Alarmed at the very idea that military recruiters can make direct appeals to high school students, a prominent anti-war academic is making some misleading statements of his own.
“Recruiters promise cash bonuses, good salaries and benefits, job training, and money for college,” Scott Key, a faculty member at Fresno Pacific University writes in the summer 2006 issue of the magazine Rethinking Schools. “Some recruiters go further, promising enlistees excitement and travel, choice of jobs and locations, and anything else to convince someone to sign up.”
“There are cases where recruiters promise enlistees that they will not have to go to Iraq.”
Key is a member of the Central Valley Counter Recruitment Coalition and Peace Fresno. Several paragraphs later, he admits, “All branches of the military have increased the size of cash bonuses,” but laments, “It is important to note that taxes will be taken out of these bonuses.” Is he calling for a tax cut? I wrote asking him that. He hasn’t answered.
Also, if you live near a military community, you know that travel is an easy promise to make. Many self-identified “military brats” whose parents are in the service will report an upbringing in half a dozen states and, frequently, at least one foreign country.
As for choice of jobs, most military recruiters will make clear this is “first come, first served,” with early sign-ups getting more of a say in their final destinations than later enrollees. As a so-called “bait and switch” technique, it compares very favorably in its honesty with the hocus pocus of college catalogues and course descriptions. From covering the Modern Language Association, for example, we learned that few literature courses actually involve the study of literature.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002) reported that some veterans experienced higher rates of unemployment than the general population; white males, 9.4 percent; African-American males, 17 percent; Latinas, 21.6 percent; and African-American females, 24 percent,” Key writes. The operative word here is “some.” Those numbers lump in 5-year veterans with 20-year retirees, making the employment picture bleaker than it actually is.
A look at more recent data from the BLS is instructive. “Overall, 55.6 percent of male veterans age 18 and over were in the labor force in August 2005, compared with 81.1 percent of nonveterans of that age,” according to a BLS release in May of this year.
“This difference in participation rates reflects the older age profile of male veterans, who are much more likely than nonveterans to be 55 years or over. For men age 18 to 54, the labor force participation rates of both veterans and nonveterans were about 88 percent.”
But Key has more dire news for us, which he also delivers deceptively. “And, according to Veterans Affairs and the Urban Institute, veterans make up 23 percent (33 percent of males) of the homeless population,” Key claims. “This means that 200,000 to 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.”
Actually, military status has less to do with homelessness than other factors, such as gender. Every study shows that one-third of the homeless are substance abusers, one-third mentally ill and the other third a question mark. Battered wives fleeing abusive husbands would fall in this latter category.
“Family background, access to support from family and friends, and various personal characteristics (rather than military service) seem to be the stronger indicators of risk of homelessness,” according to the DVA. “Almost all homeless veterans are male (about three percent are women), the vast majority are single, and most come from poor, disadvantaged backgrounds.”
“Homeless veterans tend to be older and more educated than homeless non-veterans. But similar to the general population of homeless adult males, about 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) slightly more than 70% suffer from alcohol or other drug abuse problems.”
Moreover, since left-wing advocates of federal subsidies for the homeless have successfully blocked the government’s efforts to count the displaced, it is hard to say definitively how many are in shelters let alone what their veteran’s status is.
“Military recruiters can say anything and promise anything because they are not held accountable for their promises,” Key avers. In reality, congressional committees scrutinize all of the activities of uniformed men and women to a far greater extent than they do any other professional class, receiving billions of dollars in federal subsidies—college administrators and professors, for instance.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.