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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Military recruiters on campus: things to consider before you enlist.

They have quotas to meet and they will bend the truth to meet those quotas.

The purpose of this article is not to dissuade anyone from enlisting, it is merely to inform people before they do.

Military recruiters are not your friends, they’re salesmen.

These recruiters are hoping to grab you on impulse, during mid-terms, or a stressful week of schooling. They’ll make you feel guilty about taking up Uncle Sam’s time if you say no, and if you say yes, they’ll push the jobs that they need warm bodies to fill. So be prepared.

If it was easy to get your dream job in the U.S Armed Forces, the military wouldn’t need to send recruiters to schools.

Lance Cpl. Romero, 18, was recruited fresh out of high school. He was led to believe he’d be a member of the secret service, guarding the president. Now 20, he’s a glorified security guard stationed at an embassy in the middle of nowhere. Romero’s company is four other enlisted men with whom he will spend more time with than his own family.

Military recruitment protest
Distressed woman protests recruiting tactics. Photo credit:

The first question a recruiter should ask you is not, “What can you do for your country?” its, “Are you okay ending up in a position like mine, being paid less than $30k a year and sacrificing four years of your life?”

They’ll go on to tell you that the military offers one of the best retirement plans. However, as always with salesmen though, there is a catch.

They won’t tell you that statistically only 17 percent of those who enlist ever make it the 20 years required to receive a pension. While 49 percent of officers do make the 20 years—you, being a student, will likely not be enrolling as an officer.

Report of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission Photo credit:

Becoming an officer requires a bachelor’s degree, or you can gamble and try to get into an Officer Candidate School after boot camp. But is a four year gamble really a gamble that’s worth making?

To add to that, the military has a history of force reductions in which enlisted soldiers are involuntarily let go. This could potentially ruin your military career.

“I have had to look captains, majors, soldiers in the eyes, good soldiers, and tell them that we are reducing,” said Brig. Gen. Randy George.

Soldiers Salute the Flag at Sunset
Soldiers representing each branch, salute during an exercise. Photo credit: Getty Images

Many recruiters will argue that four years in the service is all you need to kick start a career for civilian life.

The problem though is that those four years could turn into eight or more real quick if the U.S goes to war. This is because all military contracts actually require an eight year commitment to the Armed Forces and the military can pull you from your civilian life at any time during that eight year period.

Paragraph 10a of the enlistment contract states,

“FOR ALL ENLISTEES: If this is my initial enlistment, I must serve a total of eight (8) years. Any part of that service not served on active duty must be served in a Reserve Component unless I am sooner discharged.”

But that’s not the only thing your recruiter will fail to mention.

If the U.S goes to war during your enlistment period, they can utilize a “Stop Loss” to prolong a soldier’s enlistment period for the duration of the war and up to six months after. This can be used on reserve members as well.

Paragraph 10b of the enlistment contract states,

“If I am a member of a Reserve Component of an Armed Force at the beginning of a period of war or national emergency declared by Congress, or if I become a member during that period, my military service may be extended without my consent until six (6) months after the end of that period of war.

Imagine if you just had a kid, or your family depends on your civilian job’s income, Its nearing the end of your reserve period but you get pulled back into the military—this time for war.

Between 2003 to 2013 there have been a reported 174,000 Iraqis dead. However more than 40 percent, roughly 112,000-123,000 of those killed were civilians.

The body count continues to rise, adding an average of 18,063 civilian casualties per year since 2013.

Military recruiters will not talk about this information.

Eric Bana
Eric Bana as Sergeant First Class Norm “Hoot” Gibson. “Black Hawk Down” (2001) Photo credit: usandthoselikeus.tumblr

I respect the men and women of our military, they are the best in the world at what they do, they’re the watchdogs that allow us to sleep safe at night. But I would find it hard to take pride in myself for having fought in a war responsible for so many innocent deaths.

War is not always as glamorous as it seems in the movies, soldiers don’t always get to be the heroes. Many of the military’s strategies are questionable, as are the rules of engagement. Anyone enlisting to fight should first read the book Generation Kill, a nonfictional chronicle of the Iraq war. Here’s an excerpt:

“I cruised into this war thinking my buddy’s going to take a bullet, and I’m going to be the fucking hero pulling him out of harm’s way. Instead, I end up pulling out this little girl we shot, hiding in the backseat of her dad’s car.”

If you haven’t seen the leaked drone strike footage of an Apache helicopter disregarding the ROE and killing civilians, then I’d suggest you watch that video before meeting with a recruiter as well.

The military does have a great many things to offer—you can go in knowing nothing and come out with some valuable life skills and lifelong friends—you get to shoot guns and artillery, you could work on helicopters, maybe even pilot helicopters, tanks, drones etc.

But you may find yourself in a position you never wanted to be in because you listened to a salesperson, and paid with time off your life.