How is it that in a country where “support our troops” ribbons and bumper stickers abound, the military is suffering from serious recruitment woes? Why has the Pentagon had to resort to questionable (at best) recruiting tactics, like creating a database of students’ personal information, possibly in violation of the Privacy Act?
A new Campus Progress article by Daniel Savickas offers a compelling answer. Savickas, who tagged along with several Army recruiters while they worked, found the “general consensus of the recruiters was that most people joining the Army today are either doing it to help pay off college debt, or to pay their way through college.” Savickas writes of recruiters who have to “sell” military service in cold calls, and quotes one saying, “A lot of the time you’ll ask for someone and they’ll tell you they’re there until they find out who you are, then they tell you the person left.” Savickas’ own conclusion gets to the heart of military recruitment problems: “I know a lot of people joining the army are trying to earn money for college or pay off college loans. I know that an education can provide a better life. But I just don’t know if it’s worth dying for.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Answering the call to military service should mean loving our country’s principles so much that one is willing to sacrifice one’s life to protect them. If our government would stop deceiving us about matters of war, if it would adopt a foreign policy that embraces this nation’s historic values, we would have Americans enlisting because they wanted to, not because they had to.
— Michael Thompson, Campus Progress