Questions for Military Recruiters, and Answers Military Recruiters Should Give You

(Initiated by the American Friends Service Committee.)

The answers below come from various veterans’ experience and other commonly available sources.

1 How long is my enlistment commitment actually for?

Friends Ans: Your enlistment period will last 8 years. Some portion will be active duty and some portion will be on reserve dirty, Reserve duty can be made active.
Military Truth Ans.: Yes, we agree with the above answer. Both the Reserves and the National Guard can be activated for combat (which has historically been the case for the Reserves), although there is considerable legal debate whether the National Guard may be sent abroad. However, it is the position of the various Veterans peace groups that the Iraq War is illegal!!! (The October 16, 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq (AUMF), Public Law #107-243 states a misconstrued rationale – another term for “damn lies” – for the Iraq War.) Additionally, it has been unofficial DoD policy to send only enlisted National Guard personnel to Iraq (since that Officer Corps has a greater tendency to question orders than the enlisted personnel). Note that we have heard of at least one person, out of uniform for 14 years, that was recalled to duty in Iraq.

Can the armed forces make me stay longer than what I 
have contracted for?

Friends Ans: Yes, the military has the right to change your contract and extend your service longer than you agreed to.
Military Truth Ans.: Unfortunately, this is true and is often referred to as a “back door draft.” A policy called stop-loss that legally keeps troops in the service longer than expected has been commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, and a handful of court cases against the government regarding the policy have had varying degrees of success. Some troops have been honorably discharged while others were ordered to stay in the military.
From the VFP Newsletter, Fall 2008, page 18:
“Just wanted to say thank you. I am currently back on Active Duty after a tour in Iraq in 2003 AFTER I was stop-lossed the week before I was going to get out. Thank you so much for everything you are doing to support the current active duty troops and vets. I just saw the recent protest that was conducted at the Archives and if I weren’t on Active Duty, I would join you in a heartbeat. Keep up the great work.” Obviously anonymous.

Do I get paid more money for staying longer than my
 contract stipulates?

Friends Ans: No. Unless you receive a promotion, your pay scale stays the same, but if you are in a combat related job you can receive “combat pay.”
Military Truth Ans.: The above answer is quite simplistic and definitely not complete… special duty pay from a (very) low of $50 per month, to as much as $1000 per month (2008 scales), may be paid to those on orders for the following:

* Parachute Duty
* Flight Deck Duty
* Demolition Duty (EOD)
* Experimental Stress Duty
* Toxic Fuels (or Propellants) Duty
* Toxic Pesticides Duty
* Chemical Munitions
* Submarine duty
* Flight Duty
* Diving Duty
* Sea Pay
* Other fields as needed
* Dangerous Viruses (or Bacteria) Lab Duty
Additionally, there are retention incentives for the following:
U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen, Air Force Combat Controllers, and Pararescue, as well as reenlistment bonuses for various specialties.

Do I have any say in where I go, and how long I’m there

Friends Ans: No, the military determines where you go and how long you are there. You do have the right to request transfers to different units, but there is never a guarantee that your request will be granted.
Military Truth Ans.: However, if you go to a tech school of any kind and (typically) graduate in the top 10% of your class, you’ll normally have first pick of the geographical assignments that are available in your specialty, again subject to “the needs of that service.” After that, you can watch for openings in your specialty, at bases you’d like to be transferred to with some “reasonable” potential of success, depending upon how long you’ve been at your current assignment (varies from service to service).

How much does a newly enlisted service member get
paid per week?

Friends Ans: A new service member who Is not an officer can be paid $1,638.30 a month after the first four months. An average of about $5.19 an hour, based on an 80-hour week.
Military Truth Ans.: No, the above representation is somewhat misleading for anything that can be considered a “normal” job or assignment. Even the military acknowledges that an 8-hour day is far more productive than a “forced labor” situation of 80 hours per week. There are exceptions where under simulated combat (or actual combat) conditions you can be working 24 hour, 36 hour or longer shifts, but, again, these are the exception.
Basic Pay and allowances can easily be found on the web at ,, etc.

** Pay for E1 will be slightly lower for the first four months of service.
*** Some allowances, as applicable, include food, housing, clothing, family separation, (local area) cost of living and moving/relocation/temporary lodging/dislocation. Also note the Military Truth Answer to the above. It should be noted however, that any allowances are “woefully inadequate.”

Because of situations in the painful memories of some ex-military members where some enlisted members even have to successfully apply for food stamps and other Social Services aid, the military has attempted to increase pay and allowances to preclude such stories from becoming public. It remains to be seen whether the frugal lower-ranking enlisted family may have to do the same.

Am I guaranteed the ability to go to college if I want to?

Friends Ans: If you are on active duty you are not guaranteed the ability to go to school when you want to. Your commanding officer must give their permission. You also might be deployed to a remote or combat area for more than 15 months at a time making courses, even online courses, tough to complete.
Military Truth Ans.: The answer above appears to be very straightforward, where the actual situation is not. Yes, the duty assignment comes first, but there is nothing that bars you from taking courses via internet, correspondence, etc., unless you want the military to help pay for them… that is when you need your CO’s permission. Of course (as one veteran reviewer pointed out), the lower enlisted typically would have a problem paying for very many such courses on their own. Additionally, if you’re putting in so much time on your courses that your ability to handle your job becomes impaired, then the CO also can step in. At one time, remote assignments (combat or not) was a significant deterrent to taking courses, but with the advent of the internet, that is no longer the case. However, the services are addressing this for in-service course work:

Established in the 1970’s, The Community College of The Air Force, for example, provides equivalency between Air Force technical schools and college credit, in addition to providing support for personnel to obtain at least two years of college while in uniform. (Then couple this with Question 18). Like the other service branches, the Air Force offers generous tuition assistance to its personnel. The Air Force tuition assistance program is designed to help active-duty personnel pursue voluntary, off-duty educational opportunities, paying 100 percent of the cost of college courses with a limit of $4,500 per fiscal year. Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-base, off-base, or by correspondence. The College Loan Repayment Program offers those who have taken some college courses and accumulated debt an opportunity to help reduce the debt.

Military skills training is important to the Army, but so is encouraging its soldiers to attend college or take continuing education courses. As a soldier you may take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill and the Army College Fund as ways to pay for your college education – up to a total of $70,000 for those soldiers on active duty.

From “Each military base has an Education Office, who have arranged for colleges and universities to conduct college courses on-base, leading to various degree programs. However, realize that it takes much more time, then if you were going to college full-time as a civilian. For the most part, you’re taking college courses, part-time, while off-duty on the weekends and evenings. Additionally, what your job is, and where you are assigned will play a large part in determining how much ‘free time’ you have to attend college courses. A finance clerk assigned to a squadron that rarely deploys will have a better opportunity to attend off-duty college courses than an infantry troop, assigned to a company that trains ‘in the field’ often.”

Now, the Montgomery G.I. Bill may be highly touted by recruiters, using it Montgomery G.I. Bill after you leave the service may be a bit “iffy,” because of the either the qualifying criteria, or lack of motivation. Because of this only about 50% of veterans, those that have contributed to that system, have been using those benefits.

On the downside, according to the US Veteran’s Administration, only 35% of veterans receive GI Bill funds for college, while only 15% ever receive a college degree. A veteran attending college receives MGIB in monthly installments, but colleges require tuition up front. (In Harms Way, Veterans for Peace, Col. James and Professor Shirley Kennedy, Winter 2005: Ensign, 2004, pg 22,

Money for College Without Risking Your Life!!
* The Free Application for Federal Student Aid:  – We’re sorry, but this site has a problem and can no longer be reached. We’re keeping the link alive in hopes that the site will return online soon.
* Oregon Student Assistance Commission offers scholarships:
Many organizations offer programs that allow you to serve your community and earn a stipend for college.

Corporation for National Service
National Civilian Community Corp.
Global Exchange
International Student Exchange Programs
American Friends Service Committee

Trade Schools in Oregon
Art Institute of Oregon – graphic design, fashion design, web design. (The Portland school closed in 2018). Schools in other states and cities can be found here. Learn about military and veteran benefits.
Ashmead College – – massage therapy, fitness instructor, personal trainer.
Everest College (Now Altierus Career College) – – Accounting, Business, Computers, Criminal Justice, Legal, Medical, Office Administration
Oregon Culinary Institute –
Concorde Career Colleges –
Devry University –
Financial assistance available in payment plans, scholarships, grants, and loans. For more trade schools in Oregon search

Can I do a Job I want to do in this branch, or am I assigned one?

Friends Ans: Your job assignment is based on your ASVAB* score. If your ASVAB score is too low or you flunk out of your job training you will not get that Job and could be reassigned.
*Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery
Military Truth Ans.: The above answer has a very limited applicability. There are more than 800 different types of jobs available in the various branches of the United States Armed Forces. Various services have programs where the enlistee is guaranteed a specific career field IF they meet the prerequisites and qualifications for the selected field before and after enlistment. While the ASVAB score is the initial criteria (through long experience in each of the services) the job you get also depends on job-specific needs and, most of all availability of slots and training. You can pre-negotiate!
To get the job of your choice from the Army requires two things: (1) There must be an available vacancy for the job, and (2) you must be qualified for the job, and availability is based on “the luck of the draw.”

For new enlistees:
Under the Air Force’s “Guaranteed Job” program, the applicant can be guaranteed training in a specific job (Air Force Specialty Code). The Air Force also has a Qualified Waiting List program and “quick ship list” program that recruiters may not want to discuss.

The Navy offers two programs: Guaranteed Job, and Undesignated Seaman.

The Marines also offer two programs: Guaranteed Job, and general field. Very, very few Marine applicants get a guaranteed job (mostly those with college degrees or high ASVAB scores, applying for certain, designated technical specialties).

The Coast Guard offers the fewest guaranteed jobs. One normally enlists in the Coast Guard, undesignated, then “strikes” for a job after a period of on-the-job training in “basic coastguardmanship” at their first duty station.

After you’ve been in for a while, you might also be able to transfer into another field, IF you have enough time in your current specialty for that branch of service to have been “paid back” for your schooling (as applicable), your ASVAB scores are in the “acceptable range” for the specialty you want to transfer to, you have sufficient service time left to complete both the schooling and the “pay back” time, and you have the approval of your immediate superiors for such a transfer (i.e., sometimes you could be doing too good of a job to be released for that transfer!).

Job skills sites and resume/employment services:

Oregon Employment Department
Oregon Labor Market Information System

These sites help you write resumes, find jobs and job training. Go to:

8 If I change my mind about being in this branch can I resign?

Friends Ans: Only an officer can resign. Enlisted members must serve their time or face harsh penalties. Voluntary discharges can happen, but are rare.
Military Truth Ans.: The above is true, but another aspect of this question is the (rather rare) potential of an interservice transfer and there are only three such programs for enlisted members, that we’re aware of:
(1) Transfer of enlisted members from a Reserve branch to an active duty branch.
(2) Transfer of enlisted members (from any branch) to the Army in order to become an Army helicopter pilot, under the Warrant Officer Flight Training Program (WOFT).
(3) Transfer of enlisted members in over manned specialties in the Navy and Air Force to serve in the active duty Army under a special program called “Operation Blue to Green.”
In (2) and (3), above, you would most likely lose one pay grade and have to go back through the gaining services basic training program
If you wanted to change services, it is far easier to wait until you are discharged, then apply as a “prior service” applicant. But while you might think there would be one standard DoD definition for “prior service,” there is not. Each of the services define prior service (for enlistment purposes) differently.

9 What will happen to me if I decide I don’t want to be involved in the military after I enlist?

Friends Ans: You could put up with it, or risk being court-martialed, receiving a dishonorable discharge, spending time in a military jail, or getting a demotion and reduction in pay. You may also become ineligible for some civilian jobs if this happens.
Military Truth Ans.: Again, the answer above is a bit restrictive with respect to reality. All services have procedures to address conscientious objectors (COs) within the military. This can be a very arduous path without assistance, but it can also protect the successfully processed individual from the stigma of a less-than-Honorable discharge. Attempting to go this route should be weighed against the potential of simply toughing it out until you’re released – unless, of course, you’re then caught in a stop-loss program as some have in the Iraq War!
The Pentagon said desertion decreased — about 2,500 troops deserted in 2005, down from almost 5,000 in 2001. (AP, August 31, 2006) However, the GI Rights Hotline received more than 36,000 calls in 2005 and about 19,000 in the first six months of 2006, up from fewer than 1,000 in 2001. (The GI Rights Hotline )

10 What are the most dangerous military jobs?

Friends Ans: In a war zone, there is no Job that is safe. Many service members, whose Jobs were transportation related, have been killed and injured in Iraq, but infantry related positions are among the most dangerous traditionally.
Military Truth Ans.: It should be noted that the answer above is limited to “a war zone.” Traditionally, the majority of neither the Navy nor Air Force typically get that close to a war zone, although in Iraq, due to the shortage of sufficient Army, Marines, National Guard and “contract” fighters, there have been some Navy and Air Force personnel sent through a special two-week training program and assigned to highly vulnerable convoy duty. As of November 5, 2008, the number of personnel assigned to combat operations in the Near East constituted only about 43% of all American military, although there have been far too many exposed to repeated assignments in the Army, Marines and Federalized National Guard (which VFP and other Veterans’ groups contend is, technically, an illegal use of the National Guard). O.K., so we’ve got about of about 2,284,700 in both active and reserve military*, with about 4100+ dead and 30,775 physically wounded (as of July 31, ’08), which yields a 1.35% wounded in the Near East wars. However, looking at the primary combat services of active, reserve and national guard Army, plus the active and reserve Marines, we have only about 1,330,240 immediate combat personnel, which yields a physically wounded rate of 2.31%. This is not counting the unknown numbers of emotionally disturbed or PTSD casualties, many of whom go through their own respective private hell without VA help for one reason or another. *

U.S. troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat there, even when superiors have observed signs of mental illness. (Ref. The Hartford Courant, May 14, 2006) Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in the war zone. (Ref. Only 22% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by combat stress are referred for treatment or evaluation. (Ref. Government Accountability Office, 2006)
The US Military uses Depleted Uranium in the manufacture of armor piercing bombs, and bullets. (ref. United Nations International Coalition to Ban Depleted Uranium Weapons, 2005: Dr. Keith Baverstock) DU Oxide dust particles emit a kind of radiation which is known to cause cancer, organ failure and birth defects. (Go to:

There are 529,000 – 840,000 veterans who are homeless at some time during each year. 23% of our homeless population is vets, of which 89% received an honorable discharge and 76% experience alcohol, drug, or mental health problems. (ref. [This link is broken. The page appears to have been move but is redirecting to this defunct address))

The military spends $50 billion a year on healthcare, with 75% of that is spent on veterans. 215,871 veterans received PTSD benefits in 2005 (per.
– Yet, Spending for benefit programs for vets was reduced by $14 million in 2006 (disability compensation, voc rehab, education, survivors’ benefits and pension). As of 2006, The US Senate plans to cut an additional $15 billion from the veteran programs over the next 10 years (with Sen. John McCain’s concurrence).

As of 2003, 13,281 claims for undiagnosed illness have been processed. 3,403 have been approved and 9,878 have been denied. A denial rate of approximately 75%! 250,000 troops from the first Gulf War are now permanently disabled, 15,000 are dead, and 425,000 are ill and slowly dying from what the Dept. of Defense still calls a “mystery disease.” (ref. (NOte: this file has been taken down. We retrieved it from the Internet Archive and have updated the link, You can also read/download it form our own server here:, and

11. Will the skills I learn in the military be useful in civilian life?

Friends Ans: It depends on what your job specialty is. Much of what you will learn to do in the military will only relate to military jobs and not civilian jobs.
Military Truth Ans.: There is a lot of truth in the Friends answer. It should be noted that military technical schools are typically very object-oriented toward military requirements and, therefore, much shorter than commercial schools. Attempting to later get academic credit for such schools can turn out to be somewhat disappointing, but taking supplemental classes around your specialty (such as discussed in Question 6, above) can be very helpful. It should be noted that, for some (few) jobs, the military may not have a specific training school available, so might send the recruit or job transfer candidate to a corresponding civilian school. What prospective employers will more readily accept, however, is comparable military experience in trade or service-oriented industries, such as auto mechanics, plumbing, electrician, electronics, computers (including computer programming), etc.

12. What are the negative aspects of my training?

Friends Ans: Studies have shown that those who are trained to kill and deal with the stress of warfare have the tendency to develop emotional and psychological health problems.
Military Truth Ans.: This (above answer) is a relatively limited view of the military. While combat military training is definitely aimed at killing, and there are those that become emotionally scarred by accomplishing that action, there are still many (actually the majority) that can rationalize their actions in that regard and return to civilian life with no problem. It all depends upon the individual. Additionally, outsourcing is increasing, the majority of jobs in the military are for support functions to the fighting force and, while also trained for combat, are normally not involved in direct combat. Understand that enlisted Basic training can be very stressful to some individuals if you aren’t prepared to (1) having your individuality stripped (2) being indoctrinated to obey orders without thinking and (3) having someone in your face and shouting at you. One ex-Army reviewer stated:
“The keyword in your answer is ‘rationalization,’ which can be defined as being a delusion that one did something good or morally right while in combat. That’s often accomplished through a sense of Nationalism (my country, right or wrong), or that killing Iraqis somehow makes the world a better place. I maintain that the scarring begins in Basic Training, where an enlistee is systematically stripped of dignity, self-worth, moral values and individuality… necessary components to create a combat specialist, devoid of sensitivity and instantly obedient. The combat experience amplifies that training. In a theater where one cannot visually tell friend from enemy, it is necessary to consider all strangers to be the enemy if one is to survive. To me, only a sociopath can go through that experience without being damaged. Then the military refuses to acknowledge what it has done to its members by accusing the victims of weakness after first denying the existence of PTS altogether. We’ve seen this over and over in our own lifetimes.”
Officer Basic training, while rigorous, is not as emotionally stressful, as the commissioned ranks are prepared to think for themselves (“within reason”) and lead.
The military academies accomplish both forms since the underclassmen (the first two years) are treated as enlisted personnel, while the upperclassmen are expected to lead and are rated on that function.

Samuel Exler (1923-2008), a veteran of World War II, served in the 104th Infantry Division in Belgium, Holland, and Germany, earning a Bronze Star. After the war, he became an advertising copywriter, but he was also an accomplished poet, his poems appearing in such journals as American Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, and Poetry East. Of his war poetry, Exler said: “My belief that our history should not be forgotten lies behind these poems.”

Be All That You Can Be
I barely remember what it was
drilled into my bones. Barely remember
the boring words of abuse
harrowing my mind. Barely
remember how the boots
of close order drill
stomped across my thoughts—
pride skinned off, training’s blunt knife
carving me into a dogface—an animal
taught to suppress its whimper
at death’s approach.
Taught cursing, taught fear, taught
not to speak, not to have thoughts;
taught to have no will, to make
no decisions, taught
ass kissing for small favors,
taught to pick spittle-soaked cigarette butts
from the ground every morning.
Taught to kill.

Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy
Inducted on Monday,
Drilling on Tuesday,
Rifle range on Wednesday,
Shipped out on Thursday,
Shot up on Friday,
Last breath was Saturday,
Statistic on Sunday,
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy.

13. What do I do if an officer gives me a command that I believe is illegal?

Friends Ans: Military training is designed to mold service members who respond to orders without thinking. Of course, if you believe an order is unlawful you have an obligation to refuse to act upon it. If the lines are blurred, most will just obey. Those who refuse, if the order is illegal, could still face penalties.
Military Truth Ans.: In industry, disobeying an “illegal order,” can (depending upon the morality of the company itself) result in an attaboy to a no-promotion situation and being forced out (but note your enlistment contract, paragraph 9.a.(1)).
In a military non-combat situation, you can, in private, question the officer about the suspected illegality, or talk to your CO or, if that is impossible, get to the Judge Advocate General’s office (JAG) for a resolution.
In a military combat situation, you can, again in private, question the officer about the suspected illegality. But be prepared for potential consequences ranging from acknowledgement and withdrawal of the order, to being labeled as “non-cooperative,” to being jailed, dishonorably discharged, or, in the extreme, even becoming KIA from “hostile fire”… i.e., watch your back!

The UCMJ on illegal orders (from: – We’re sorry, but this page has been removed from the website and we can’t find another page on the site that replaces it. However, we found it at the Internet Archive and have replaced the link.

“The Uniform Code of Military Justice is more concerned about failure of military personnel to obey legitimate orders than it is about refusal to obey illegitimate orders, but it does address the subject. In Section 16c(1)(c) it provides:
Lawfulness. A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the United States, or lawful superior orders or for some other reason is beyond the authority of the official issuing it.

“And in Section 14c(2)(a)(i): Inference of lawfulness. A order requiring the performance of a military duty or act may be inferred to be lawful and it is disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate. This inference does not apply to a patently illegal order, such as one that directs the commission of a crime.

“These provisions allow for the disobedience of illegal orders, but such orders may themselves constitute a crime, or be part of a criminal conspiracy, either under military or civilian law. Under federal law, 18 USC 242, it is illegal for anyone under the color of law to deprive any person of the rights, privileges or immunities secured by the U.S. Constitution, and under 18 USC 241 it is illegal to conspire to violate such rights. It is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This could be applied to military personnel who abuse the rights of citizens, either military or civilian.”

14. What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Friends Ans: PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a severe mental health affliction that develops, when one experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as combat or the effects of combat. Flashbacks, nightmares, depression, and inability to think straight are some of the symptoms of PTSD.
Military Truth Ans.: We agree with the answer above.

15. Will I receive any compensation if I am permanently disabled in war?

Friends Ans: Yes, you can receive compensation if you are disabled but the payment will be based on your actual disability. The military rating system for measuring disabilities and calculating disability payment has long been thought to be unfair. A person who is blinded may only get a 50% disability rating, for instance.
Military Truth Ans.: This is also highly dependent upon the extent to which the military recognizes a military-related “injury,” as witnessed by the Vietnam “agent orange” situation that took decades to resolve, or the first Gulf War hard-to-diagnose medical problems experienced by returning veterans, or the still-to-be-diagnosed problems associated with the heavy use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions to be contested by the DoD.
However, any service-related injury is grounds for compensation, not just those related to war. In my case, ototropic hearing loss is not recognized (exposure to adverse, nerve-damaging cleaning agents), but aircraft engine noise is recognized, which I had plenty of exposure to during my enlisted days. Battling “the system” for ototropic hearing loss is a wasted effort, so I simply cited aircraft engine noise.

16. Have you ever seen combat and do you think exposure 
to it is healthy for me?

Friends Ans: Any recruiter who tells you that experiencing combat is healthy must not be aware of the thousands of war veterans who are suffering from PTSD, surviving without arms or legs, or whose quality of life will never be what it was before they witnessed combat.
Military Truth Ans.: It should be noted in the above answer that “witnessing” combat is not the same as “experiencing” combat. However, any recruiter attempting to “impress” prospective recruits will be wearing a uniform with all his/her medals. Asking about each one, discounting those that are simply “service during” awards, should give you an idea of whether that individual has actually experienced a combat situation, or not. As one reviewer stated:
“It is the recruiter’s job to lure young men and women into harm’s way by disguising the truth, making it seem honorable, patriotic and safe. Isn’t it reasonable to assume the recruiter’s answer to this question will be less than forthcoming? Better, I think, to ask how it feels to hold your best friend in your arms and watching him die.
“War is never a good thing. Sometimes it is a necessary thing if there is no other recourse, but never good. This particular action (Iraq) is wrong in more ways than I can express, and I carry a great deal of anger and contempt at our government and military for luring our young through advertisements… ads in which soldiers in Class A Dress uniforms are doing rifle drills… spinning rifles and tossing them to each other… creating the illusion that a rifle is a toy instead of a tool of death and dismemberment.”

17. Will I be deployed to the Middle East?

Friends Ans: Nearly every job is a “deployable” job. If you enlist in the Reserves or the National Guard there is a very good chance that you will be deployed to the Middle East rather than serving weekend duty stateside. Active duty enlistees should also be prepared to deploy. Forces are stretched thin and therefore new recruits should always be prepared to go to war.
Military Truth Ans.: Again, the above answer is primarily for the Army, Marines and National Guard (with Veterans organizations saying that the National Guard is being illegally deployed to Iraq). However, don’t EVER believe a recruiter’s “assurances” about not being assigned to a war zone. One mother in Atlanta, GA, with a daughter in the Navy, speaking to a VFP Chapter 125 member stated that: “… her daughter was lied to by her recruiters. They said she would not be on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan, but she’s on her way to Afghanistan now.” Here again, we have Navy personnel doing ground duty in a combat zone, something they were not trained to do. (From the VFP Newsletter, Fall 2008, page 10)

18. BUT, if you’re enlisted, what about moving UP in the military, sometimes being able to get an education at the same time?

Friends Ans: Not addressed.
Military Truth Ans.: We’ve all heard of the academies and ROTCs, but a little-known fact is that each of the services has its own version of enlisted commissioning programs, with a range of criteria and options.
18A The Army’s 9D Program, the Officer/Warrant Officer Enlistment Program, is available to qualified applicants with or without prior military service enlisting for 3 years. If enlisting for Officer Candidate School (OCS) the candidate must have received a baccalaureate or higher degree. If enlisting for Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT), the candidate must be a high school graduate. Applicants in their senior year of either high school or of a 4- year college program may be enlisted into the Delayed Entry Program contingent upon successful completion of high school (WOFT) or receipt of a BA/BS (OCS). All applicants must be U.S. citizens.

18B Navy commissioning programs are available for both college students and graduates. Specialists in certain professional categories, such as lawyer, doctor, nurse or chaplain, may qualify for a direct commission. Enlisted men and women who are outstanding performers may also qualify and apply for commissioning programs. Such opportunities include: Officer Candidate School; the Seaman to Admiral Program; the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program; the Enlisted Commissioning Program for enlisted personnel, who have previous college credit, a full-time opportunity to complete requirements for a baccalaureate degree and earn a commission; Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) program and the Limited Duty Officer Program. The later two programs do not require a college degree. Additionally, there are commissioning programs through various health services routes.

18C The USAF Airman Education and Commissioning Program (AECP) offers active duty Air Force enlisted personnel the opportunity to earn a commission while completing their bachelor’s degree. In another version, the student must attend AFROTC courses and earn their baccalaureate degree before being commissioned. The Air Force administratively assigns the selected applicant to the Air Force ROTC detachment at the institution they choose where they become AECP ROTC cadet. The applicant’s job is to go to school as a full-time college student. AECP ROTC cadets may participate in the program from one to 3 years, depending on their major, prior academic preparation, and age limitations. During the program, they attend school year-round to include summer terms, except when the AECP ROTC Cadet attends summer field training. The AECP is not an avenue for undergraduate flying training. In other words, you cannot become a pilot or navigator under this program. In the past, only those that had at least two years of college credits toward an Air Force desired specialty were able to apply. (In the past, you would be on-campus for your last two years of school, go to Officer Training School – OTS – and be eligible for flight training, if you met the criteria.)

19. Can I get out of the Delayed Enlistment Program without being prosecuted by the military?

Friends Ans: Not addressed.
Military Truth Ans.: The Delayed Enlistment Program is geared toward high school seniors and participants are led to believe they are legally obligated to the military before they graduate. The DEP contract is unenforceable until you are ON THE BUS. You will NOT be jailed, blacklisted, or generally discharged as long as you apply IN WRITING to be released prior to your ship date. (Ref. Point-in-fact, simply not showing up without written pre-announcement in not effectively prosecutable by the military.

20. What about women in the U.S. Military?

Friends Ans: Not addressed.
Military Truth Ans.: 1 out of every 7 soldiers is female. Almost 14% of female soldiers are single moms. (Ref.—We apologize, but this website appears to have been taken down or the page is not loading for an unknown reason since June 2019. We are leaving it here for reference.

19% of Reserve women reported sexual harassment, 10% reported sex discrimination, 2% reported sexual assault. (US Department of Defense 2005, Reserves Survey) 37% of women who reported a rape or attempted rape had been raped more than once. 14% of the victims reported having been gang raped. (Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2003)

Suzanne Swift, a veteran of the Iraq war, in custody at Fort Lewis, Washington. Swift completed a tour of duty in Iraq, where she was sexually harassed and assaulted by three of her commanding officers. Her efforts to report her treatment were met with disrespect and dismissed. Finally, Swift suffered a breakdown due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and went absent without leave (AWOL). She was apprehended in Eugene, Oregon, in June 2006, and instead of seeing her rapists investigated, Swift herself faced court martial and prison time. (Ref. Also ref. #23.

21. What about our military “Readiness?”

Friends Ans: Not addressed.
Military Truth Ans.: As of August 1, 2006, 2/3 of the active Army’s brigades are not rated ready for war. The US military cannot complete personnel training, equipment repairs and replacement when units return home from Iraq or Afghanistan due to budget constraints. Price tag to fix? $21B (Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, National Guard, August 1, 2006)

Col. Paul Hammes was responsible for establishing bases for the Iraqi armed forces: Not providing the best equipment [in Iraq] was a serious moral failure on the part of our leadership. The United States did not ask our soldiers to invade France in 1944 with the same armor they trained on in 1941. Why are we asking our soldiers and Marines to use the same armor we found was insufficient in 2003?“ (DAVID ESPO, The Associated Press, Monday, September 25, 2006;Retired Officers Criticize Rumsfield.)

“The Army is in terrible shape, and the Marines aren’t much better.” Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton who was responsible for training Iraq’s military and police in 2003 and 2004. (Tuesday, September 26, 2006; Page A02, By Dana Milbank, Washington Post)

The fact is, that desert sand operations tear equipment up faster than any form of cold weather exposure or operation. It can be expected that very little of the hardware that is currently being used in the Near East wars, will be worth returning to U.S. bases.

22. I’ve heard that the U.S. involvement in past wars may not have been as altruistic as our textbooks depict. Is there any truth to the fact that many of our wars were for a profit motive?

Friends Ans: Not addressed.
Military Truth Ans.: We refer you to our website and the “Costs” page for references on this topic. Some of the answers may surprise you.

From the VFP Newsletter, Fall 2008, page 12, article by Jack Bussell: “War is, and has been, the most destructive action ever taken by humans. Nobody wins in war except those who make weapons.” Then a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “There never was a good war, or a bad peace.”

23. I’ve heard that U.S. Constitutional Rights don’t apply to military personnel. What is the truth in that?

Friends Ans: Not addressed.
Military Truth Ans.: Unfortunately, although theoretically this is a false concept, in reality, there is a lot of truth in that. From:
“Does the u.s. constitution apply to military personnel?
“Sort of, but not exactly the way it does in civilian life. While military personnel are not excluded from the rights set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution grants Congress the power to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

“As a practical matter, most civilian Constitutional rights are afforded to military personnel – although with some differences to fit the military situation. In some areas, such as right to counsel and rights (Miranda) warnings, military personnel have broader protections than those contained in the Constitution. In other areas such as search and seizure, they have reduced expectations of privacy and fewer protections.

“Military appellate courts tend to interpret military law as being consistent with Constitutional protections so far as is possible.”

In searching around the web, voting and housing seem to be the main enforcement interests of the DoJ for military personnel, per (We’re sorry but this linked page at the US Department of Justice is no longer online)

From the standpoint of racial equal rights, by executive order, Harry Truman had dictated the end of segregation in the military. However, former Sen. Chuck Robb, who served 34 years in active and reserve duty as a Marine officer, in 2002 said that “the threat to morale,” which some believe will occur if there is a policy to permit gays in the military, “comes not from the orientation of a few, but from the closed minds of many.”

The following is from the VFP website page as “CCCO Overview on Recruiting:”    (We’re sorry, but this page is on longer online. We haven’t been able to find a replacement link as of 12/10/19 but will continue looking. The initial link led to Veterans for Peace’s new chapter page, and we’ve replaced that link with the updated link to that file for now)

Recruiters are here to glorify war – and then sell it to you. Like cigarette companies, recruiters will say anything to get you hooked.

Job Skills?
Why do veterans earn less than similar non-veterans? Why are veterans imprisoned more often? Why are 1/3 of all homeless people veterans? Why did Former Secretary of Defense Cheney state that the military is “not a jobs program” but exists to prepare to “fight and win wars?”

Money for College?
Why do 65% of recruits who pay the required $1200 into the Montgomery GI Bill never get a dime in return?

How does getting yelled at and ordered around provide self-discipline? Why is it a crime in the military to talk back to your boss or quit your job?

Women in the Military?
Why do the Veterans Administration’s own figures show 90% of recent women vets reporting sexual harassment— 1/3 of whom were raped?

Why do people of color make up 35% of the enlisted people in the military, but only 15% of the officers?

Does shooting, shelling, or dropping bombs on kids really sound like fun? How about killing or dying for oil?

The original Q&A (Questions 1-17 and “Friends Ans:”) were prepared by:
National Youth & Militarism Program
1501 Cherry Street
American Friends Philadelphia, pa 19102
Service Committee 215-241-7176  Note: This MySpace blog no longer has any posts. You can see the vestiges of the former site here:


WHEREAS military recruiters routinely solicit young people before the age they can legally enlist, and

WHEREAS the Pentagon spends $4 Billion annually on advertising and recruiting, much of it aimed at children under 18, and

WHEREAS these communications are one-sided, omitting critical information and often misrepresent the full reality of military service, and

WHEREAS schools and other social institutions have been wholly incapable and negligent in informing young people of the truth about war and enlistment.

BE IT RESOLVED that Veterans for Peace condemns all military recruitment activities involving minors under 18, and calls for legislation to prohibit

all advertising and marketing, video games, or other mass communication from the Department of Defense to individuals under 18. This includes the termination of the JROTC program and all other programs involving high school students, including the “No Child Left Behind” act.

the Department of Defense from initiating any communication, phone calls, or conversations, etc. with any individual under the age of 18, and,

3. engaging (including responding to inquiries) with any individual under the age of 17.

Submitter: Todd Boyle / Gary Davis
Endorsed By: VFP Chapter 92, June 19, 2004



The link to the pdf file above went dead for a whilem but we were able to find it posted elsewhere. While looking for it we also found this page, a good resource with comparable content:

“I can promise you won’t go to Iraq or Afghanistan because of your assigned Military Occupational Specialty/Duty Station/branch of service/reserve or guard status/because I say so.”
Recruiters can promise this, but their word means nothing to the people who will actually decide what the military does with you. A lot of the people who join the military today will go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of them won’t come home. Personnel from the Navy and Air Force are being pulled as “Individual Mobilization Augmentees” to run convoys in Iraq after a two-week crash
course. The Marine Corps has even sent band members to Iraq for combat missions.

“You can choose active duty or reserves and an enlistment period of two years, four years, or more, depending on the commitment you want to make. When you complete your enlistment, you can get out and won’t be called back.”
Every contract is for a period of eight years including time in the inactive reserves. The contract you sign is unilateral, meaning it only binds you, not the military. You can choose what that contract says, but it does not stop the military from putting you on stop-loss or involuntarily extending you.
At least 80,000 military personnel have been affected by these policies since 9/11.
Section C, Paragraph 9 of the enlistment contract states: “Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces regardless of the provisions of this enlistment/reenlistment document.”

“If you’re enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) you can’t get out of serving.”
It’s easy to get out: just don’t show up. Recruiters will tell you that you will go to jail if you don’t, but that’s just another lie. For more information, go to or call 1.800.394.9544.

“If you don’t like it, you can get out at any time with a ‘failure to adapt’ discharge.”
There are a variety of unpleasant ways to get out of the military, but “not liking it” is not one of them. If you refuse to train, the drill sergeants will use any means available to keep you in. If the command finally decides that discharge is the only option, the process may take months to complete.

“You will get plenty of money to get a college degree when you get out of the military, as well as numerous chances to get ahead on your education while still on active duty.”
On average, the Montgomery GI Bill will only cover 1/2 the cost of a public college and 1/5 the cost of a private college. In order to get that money for college after you get off active duty, you have to contribute money to the fund from the day they start paying you. So many servicemen are disqualified from getting that money that the military makes money from the program. But even if you do qualify, it’s very difficult to apply for college while in Iraq, and even more difficult
psychologically to go straight from combat to a classroom.

“Before you become a weapon of your democracy, ready to fight and die and kill in the name of the United States of America, you need to have the utmost faith in that democracy.” – Adam Kokesh,
Iraq Veterans Against the War, USMC, Fallujah, Feb-Sep 2004;;;
IVAW PO Box 8296 Philadelphia, PA 19101 Tel: 215.241.7123 Fax: 215.241.7177
Attorneys at Law
Nickolas Facaros
Marianne Dugan

485 E 13th Avenue
Eugene OR 97401
Telephone 541-484-4004
Facsimile 541-686-2972

May 19, 2003

To whom it may concern

I represent Eugene Peaceworks (Committee for Countering Military Recruitment) and Community Alliance of Lane County. My clients have asked me to write an open letter to public school administrators in response to a pattern of violations of my clients’ First Amendment rights.

As explained in this letter, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires you to allow my clients to present students with information in response to military recruitment efforts, at least to the same extent and in the same manner you allow military recruiters to present information. Because the end of the school year is imminent and many students will be pressured to enlist upon graduation, the need for your consideration of this information is urgent.

As you may know, my clients have been working to provide students with information in opposition to the onslaught of military recruitment in our public schools. The ways in which they have presented these views in the past and the ways in which they wish to do so in the future include:

1. providing brochures to the schools be placed in close proximity to military recruitment brochures (for example, in the guidance counselors’ offices);

2. being present during tabling or other in-person events by military recruiters in the schools;

3. placing flyers and posters in close proximity to recruitment posters in the schools;

4. giving classroom presentations when recruiters are invited to do so;

5. giving assembly presentations when recruiters are invited to do so;

6. being present to provide counter-counseling when military recruiters make themselves available within the schools;

7. having the schools announce the availability of my clients for such counseling when the schools make announcements about military recruiter availability

In pursuing these legal and constitutionally-protected objectives, my clients have run into roadblocks at several schools in the greater Eugene area. For example, they have been told to remove their brochures from school counseling offices, and have been told that they cannot be present during military recruiter tabling events. The rationales provided have been varied, including an argument that tabling and brochures are outside of the classroom and therefore are not protected under equal access rules. None of the rationales presented hold water as legal theories.

Over fifteen years ago the federal court of appeals for our region (the Ninth Circuit) held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits public schools from discriminating against counter-recruiting groups. The case was called San Diego Committee Against Registration and the Draft v. Governing Board of Grossmont Union High School Dist., 790 F.2d 1471 (9th Cir. 1986), and it remains good law.

The context of the San Diego case was a school-run newspaper. The school had allowed military recruiters to place advertisements in the school newspaper but refused to do so for peace groups. The court of appeals decided that the school newspaper was a “limited public forum.” However, the court held that even if the newspaper was a “nonpublic forum” (which has less First Amendment protection), the school could not refuse to allow peace groups from placing advertisements.

A similar outcome was reached by the Eleventh Circuit federal court of appeals, in Searcey v. Crim, 815 F.2d 1389 (11th Cir. 1987). That circuit covers parts of the southern United States. In that case, a school refused to allow peace-related literature on school bulletin boards, in offices of school guidance counselors, and on career days, while allowing military recruiters and other non-school groups to do so. The court of appeals held that, even if these fora are “nonpublic,” the First Amendment prohibited the school from discriminating against the peace groups’ point of view.

It is clear is that if you allow military recruiters to present their point of view to students – whether that be through brochures, posters, tabling, in-classroom lectures, or any other sort of presentation of information – you must also allow my clients to present their views countering the recruiters’ efforts. As the Ninth Circuit explained in the San Diego case:

“[I]t appears that the Board was engaging in viewpoint-based discrimination. By allowing the publication of the military recruitment advertisements, the Board allowed the presentation of one side of a highly controversial issue. The Board provided a forum to those who advocate military service. The Board then refused, without a valid reason, to allow those who oppose military service to use the same forum. The only reasonable inference is that the Board was engaging in viewpoint discrimination. As the Supreme Court has stated, “to permit one side of a debatable public question to have a monopoly in expressing its views . . . is the antithesis of constitutional guarantees.” . . . In other words, “the First Amendment means that the government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” . . . Viewpoint-based discrimination is not permitted even in a non-public forum.

Parenthetically, I want to make sure it is clear that the Equal Access Act (20 U.S.C. §§ 4071-72) is irrelevant to this inquiry. The Act, which was written by Congress, cannot reduce the protections provided by the First Amendment. The Act applies only to noncurriculum-related student groups. The Act was enacted in 1984, yet neither of the two cases cited above refer to the Act, because it merely adds an additional layer of speech protection to the rights already guaranteed to citizens under the First Amendment.

Another issue which I wish to address is a pattern of school administrators making my clients jump through unnecessary hoops before being allowed to present their opposing viewpoints to students. For example, one school administrator demanded to see proof of 501(c)(3) status. 501(c)(3) status is an IRS tax exemption designation which has no relevance to the two key questions: 1) whether my clients are citizens of the United States with rights under the First Amendment and 2) whether their counter-recruitment efforts constitute political speech. The answer to the first question is, of course, yes, and does not warrant further discussion. The second question has already been answered by the Ninth Circuit in the San Diego case and cannot now be re-examined by each school or district.

If you question my analysis on any of these issues, I urge you to seek independent advice from your own legal counsel and have them respond to this letter. Once again, we request that you give this letter prompt review and allow my clients the access which is guaranteed by the First Amendment, during the remainder of this school year as well as during all future school years.

Very truly yours,

Marianne Dugan

Equal Access

I’ve heard that public school districts have been sued for allowing military recruiters access to schools while denying such access to persons who hold different views about war and military service. What have been the outcomes of these lawsuits?

There have been several such lawsuits. The good news is that they have been successful. Some degree of increased access to schools has been granted to persons and groups with alternative views.

Typically young people are besieged by military recruiters in many ways – visits to schools, classrooms, and guidance counselors’ offices; recruiter participation in school-sponsored activities (such as career days and athletic events); Army Cinema vans; adventure vans; in-school multimedia displays; partnerships (such as “adopt-a-school”); and phone calls, letters, and home visits to students based on contact information obtained from school administrators. Unfortunately it is also typical for community groups that have attempted to provide some balance to be denied such access.

In the 1980s several of these groups took school districts to court. Here is a sampling of the most significant decisions:

Palm Beach, Florida (Vogt v. School Board of Palm Beach County) – A local peace group was granted the right to have draft counseling material placed in guidance counselors’ offices, but was denied access to school-sponsored career day events. The rationale for the latter part of the decision is that the military is offering a job, but peace groups are not.

Chicago, Illinois (Clergy and Laity Concerned v. Chicago Board of Education) – A local religious peace group was granted the same degree of access as recruiters.

Repeat – San Diego, California (San Diego CARD v. Grossmont Union High School District) – Local activists were granted the right to place ads in school newspapers. The court ruled that the subject of military service is “controversial and political in nature.” When a school permits military recruitment and selective service advertisements to be placed in papers, other groups can publish materials that address the subject from another viewpoint.

Repeat – Atlanta, Georgia (Searcey v. Harris) – An Atlanta peace organization won the right to have access to career days, school bulletin boards, and counselors’ offices. The court stated that the school district cannot deny school access to peace groups based on their disapproval of a group’s views.

These lawsuits have had a broader impact beyond their jurisdictions. Some school districts in areas not covered by the court rulings have decided to grant increased access based on precedents set in these cases.



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