I'm probably going to get kicked from this group for posting this but seeing this topic, I had to reply.
Firstly, the article isn't off. Primarily the composition of the military is of lower class citizens, but I would like to suggest that the reason for such is not necisarrily because of social status exclusevely...after all...kerry, gore, JFK, and even Elvis were all in the military, but rather an argument of education levels.
If a student is getting good grades and have the opportunity to go to college, they can usually get in reguardless of family income. My school, for example, DePauw, accepts need based aid request and also has a system of grade-based aid of entering freshman. Simply said, if you're poor and smart, you have a chance at college reguardless of expense, I know one kid that actually has more than full ride and has to pay taxes on the extra amount, which, ironically enough, his scholarship covers, his family lives in a trailer park.
If a student isn't getting straight A's and they're still poor, then admitedly their options are limited. This is really the only place where social status can be blamed for recruitment counts, as the army offers a free education system they can take advantage of.
Finally if a student is dumb as hell then reguardless of their income, unless they're really rich, they're probably going to have a tough time getting into or through college. In this case the army is almost a good thing as it teaches disapline the student may lack and offer them a career when they leave the service as many pick up a vocation in the army.
Admitadely these examples are highly incensitive to special cases and I don't pretend to defend agressive recruiting tactics, but the main point is this. The parent can do a lot for a child just by encouraging them in their studies. After that you also have to remember JOINING THE ARMY IS VOLONTARY AND THE DRAFT IS IMPERSONAL TO SOCIAL STATUS.
At any rate, I hope those who read this post and those that have a more balanced understanding of the statistics, which though true, are not evidence of a class society using poor pawns to do its dirty work.
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My husband joined the air national guard before we were together at one point. We were friends at the time and I remember begging him not to do it. I am happy to say that (with all that was going on at the time) boot camp was delayed and he had enough time to gather his thoughts and realize that it was not the place for him. He was dishonorably discharged, but did not face any punishment since he never attended boot camp.
I don't know why he originally wanted to go in. I think he just wasn't sure what to do with his life at the time and knew they provided jobs and training (which is what was said earlier in this thread).
I remember the first time I heard if a draft rumor I was pregnant and terrified that they were going to take him away from me. I was a bit crazy and hormonal while pregnant.
I hate this government of ours. But I have family that works amongst the evil and get very confused. My uncle works for homeland security. He is the most stressed out and miserable person you could ever meet. I think he may die of a heart attack before the age of fifty. I don't remember him always being this bad. I like to think that maybe it is because he feels trapped and against what he is working for. That, I think, is better than him being all for what is going on in his office everyday!
Homeless People's Network: "Fight the War at Home", 2 November 11, 2005 11:44 PM
What we know is this: If we cannot stand together, soon we will be on our
knees together. If we do not fight together, we will die alone. If we are
strong together, we will win together. We must value each other and each
Political activism is very healing. It will help you feel sane in crazy
times. Do it. You will not be alone. 2003 will be better for all of us if
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Homeless People's Network: "Fight the War at Home" November 11, 2005 11:40 PM
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FIGHT THE WAR AT HOME
by MaryKate Connor
Thankfully, 2002 is over. If you were poor, or disabled, or disenfranchised,
it was a rotten year. If you were dark-skinned, of a suspicious religion,
and from a politically suspect country or culture, it was a rotten year. If
you were homeless, it was worse than most years; and if you are homeless,
all years are pretty bad.
Nationally, we saw the passage of the Homeland Security and US-PATRIOT Acts.
These give our government broad, sweeping powers that would purportedly save
our country from terrorists. The only thing certain about these measures is
that most of the civil rights that our leaders claim as the hallmark of our
"free and democratic" nation have been extinguished.
In California, we saw the passage of a bill that will purportedly keep
people who have psychiatric illnesses from killing people who don't by
locking them into a civil straightjacket known as Laura's Law. This law
decrees that anyone deemed dangerous to themselves or others can be
committed by their families into psychiatric incarceration. When released,
if they aren�t compliant with outpatient treatment, they can be
court-ordered to comply under threat of further confinement.
In San Francisco, we saw the passage of Prop N, a ballot measure that
replaces the small amount of public funds granted to poor people with
nothing. These savings are supposed to fund services for the homeless people
who lost 85% of their cash benefits, but there is absolutely no guarantee
that these services will exist when their funds are cut off. The services we
have now are already ridiculously overburdened, and San Francisco is now
preparing to decimate homeless services in the 2003-04 budget, so what will
What do these things have in common? The social control of citizens through
legislative measures which criminalize entire classes of people deemed
unworthy of constitutional protections; even while blaming them for the very
conditions that they live in, suffer from, or were born into.
2002 also revealed the blatant face of corporate greed with the scandals of
Enron and World Telecom. The only good news here is that the American people
(like the "good Germans" of another generation) can no longer honestly say
that they didn't know. And everyone who lost their shirts will now question
the corporations that retain control of 90% of America's wealth by addicting
our political leaders with soft money.
So, will Americans do anything different, or will we all just lay down and
take it? We have yet to see.
We enter 2003 with massive deficits in both the State and City budgets; we
are at war abroad to protect corporate interests; and all of this relentless
injustice will take place in the name of the American people. These unjust
actions will take place not only in the Persian Gulf, but here, in our own
All of the money currently devoted to the "war on terror" could house every
man, woman, and child in this country for 50 years. What�s currently spent
on the U.S. defense budget in ONE DAY could permanently house every person
on American soil who is currently homeless.
If this is not a war on Americans, then what is?
All of the corporations now circling Iraq, waiting for it to bleed oil when
it dies, aren�t in the least concerned with the money taken from our pockets
to fight their war for them. And as for those of us who are poor, disabled,
dark-skinned, or homeless, we know that the war has been here at home for a
We wish all of this was political ranting and rhetoric, but it is not.
Everyday people often shy away from political action. Confrontation is
scary, and it is frightening to be exposed publicly for being angry. It is
too easy to discredit poor and disenfranchised people for their political
beliefs and actions by citing their circumstances, cultures, disabilities,
etc. as the reason that they are angry. Homeless service industry
professionals are trained to be neutral (or at least those who are trained),
and are also trained to help change the individual, not confront the system
that harms and circumscribes that individual. They frequently won�t take
sides in conflict because it might discredit them in the eyes of their
peers, place their continued funding at risk, or because they do not believe
that the issue or issues affect them.
Often people do not see how the political reality affects their day-to-day
life, which, for many of us, is difficult enough to begin with. When one is
struggling with poverty, and homelessness, merely navigating the day is like
going to war. But the political is personal, and affects each of us daily.
>From unfilled potholes to schools and clinics closing, most of us will feel
the reach of budget realities. What we might not see, or even care to
contemplate, is its connection to the other political realities that are
occurring and affecting us as well.
This is a scary time, but it is also a time for people to put aside their
personal differences and come together in creative ways to fight the wars at
home. Whether the issue is the budget, the violation of civil rights,
involuntary out-patient commitment, war in Iraq, or the way homeless people
are treated, it is a war.
All of these issues are connected, and all of us suffer as a result.
(continued next post)
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When I went into the shelter in Baton Rouge after leaving New Orleans post Katrina, I was surprised but not astounded to see recruiters there enlisting kids graduating from high school this coming spring.They were also specifically looking for residents of Ward 9 and other impoverished areas of the NOLA metro area. I realize that these people were desperate this was going a bit too far.
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“I pledge my allegiance to the poor and oppressed” November 11, 2005 6:28 AM
Military resister Camilo Mejía:
“I pledge my allegiance to the poor and oppressed”
July 22, 2005 | Page 5
CAMILO MEJIA was the first U.S. soldier who served in Iraq to go public with his refusal to continue fighting George Bush’s war for oil and empire.
Camilo refused to be redeployed to Iraq before the revelations about torture at the Abu Ghraib prison came to light, but these abuses didn’t take him by surprise. One of his first assignments when he arrived in Iraq in 2003 was to detain--and abuse--Iraqi prisoners by depriving them of sleep and using mock executions to terrify them.
A military court forced Camilo to serve seven months’ confinement for his decision to abide by his conscience. Since his release, Camilo has thrown himself into building the antiwar movement and counter-recruitment efforts--and speaking about how his time in Iraq has changed his thinking about the world.
On July 3, Camilo spoke at an evening rally against war and empire at the Socialism 2005 conference in Chicago. Here, Socialist Worker prints an extended version of his speech.
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THOSE OF us in the GI antiwar movement, whether we know it or not, face a powerful enemy. When I say antiwar movement, it is assumed that I mean the war in Iraq, but the war in Iraq should be seen as part of something far bigger and far more devastating.
The powerful enemy is the corporations that finance congressional and presidential campaigns, the corporations in control of our privatized government. This is the same enemy that charges the American people a billion dollars per week to send their children to fight a criminal war against the children of Iraq.
Our struggle is the struggle against those who say “support our troops” while turning their backs on returning veterans. It is rather comfortable to say support the troops while keeping their reality in Iraq a mystery.
Support the troops by waving flags and slapping yellow ribbons on the bumpers of SUVs. Support the troops while they are killing their brothers and sisters in Iraq--meanwhile, hiding the flag-draped coffins some of them are coming home in, and keeping the horror of their wounds out of the public’s view.
We struggle against those who create terrorism through the spread of hunger and poverty, so they can spread war and reap the profits. We struggle against those who invade and occupy a land for its resources, and then call its people terrorists for refusing to be conquered.
This “terrorism” in Iraq is in reality a fight for freedom and self-determination. It is by twisting the concept of this legitimate struggle into the concept of terrorism, with help from the corporate media, that our puppet government further creates resentment and racism against the oppressed to further its conquest. It is by means of this imperial conquest that a small terrorist network is turned into a global terrorist mentality.
No longer able to rely on the rhetoric of the Cold War, the corporate warmongers need this global terrorism to justify the spread of its empire. So the war we oppose is the war waged by corporations on the billions of people around the world who live in utter misery.
We fight an enemy that can only be made powerful through the systematic exploitation of natural resources and through the constant and systematic poisoning of the environment across the world. This enemy does not need war to spread death and destruction.
We fight a system that feeds on poverty and lack of options to fill the ranks of its imperialist military.
The United States of America is the only superpower on earth--a nation rich and powerful beyond anything ever seen or heard of in history. There is no reason why everyone in this nation should not live a comfortable and stable life. Yet more than 40 million people live without health insurance. The public school system is overcrowded and failing, but to get help from the government, public schools must open their doors to military recruiters.
The so-called American Dream, to many poor people, is tied to the obligation to fight in a war for corporate domination.
They call it an all-volunteer army. But to them, I say: Show me a society where everyone has access to health care. Show me a society where everyone has access to an education. Show me a society where everyone has access to decent wages, where everyone lives a dignified life, and then I will show you an all-volunteer army.
Poverty and oppression around the world provide the building blocks for an empire. Poverty and oppression at home provide the building blocks to build an imperial army.
In saying no to that imperial army--in refusing to fight an imperial war against our brothers and sisters of Iraq--I pledge my allegiance to the poor and oppressed of the world. In saying no to an imperial army and in refusing to fight an imperial war against our brothers and sisters of Iraq, I pledge my allegiance to the working class of the world.
Their struggle--which is your struggle--is my struggle as well.
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"Terrorism is the war of the poor and war is the terrorism of the rich."
- Peter Ustinov
"Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to these brutes who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle and use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are men! With the love of humanity in your hearts! Don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!" from The Great Dictator
"The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.": John Flynn, 1944
Who Will Fight?
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insult on top of injury on top of insult November 11, 2005 4:43 AM
Since 1999 and before I've been in touch both directly and indirectly with poverty. I've seen for myself how being forced to choose between two necessities because I can only afford one can be stressful.
Bush and his neocons have slashed social programs... they've talked about a "ten year plan to end homelessness" while cutting funding for all related programs...
they are evil, greedy creeps
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If dangling future citizenship (if you make it through the war) in front of desperate people is not resorting to A MERCENARY ARMY -what is? You don't just get pay but are rewrded with citizenship - a straight off sell and buy - only the saleman always wins,
[ send green star]
George Bush’s praise for U.S. soldiers is as an insult to the working poor men and women who face poverty and oppression as part of one of the system’s most racist and rigid class institutions. The real "mission of liberation" will begin when these soldiers recognize that their real enemies aren’t in Iraq. They’re at home.
Sending the poor to war September 23, 2005 8:38 PM
This article is a bit outdated, but still worth the read. IMO
SINCE THE U.S. conquered Baghdad and declared victory over Iraq in early April, George W. Bush’s handlers have lined up numerous photo ops for the former draft dodger to pose in front of U.S. troops. But for all of Bush’s rhetoric about "America’s heroes" who fought to "liberate an oppressed people," actions speak louder than words. As JUSTIN AKERS shows, the daily lives of rank-and-file U.S. military personnel set them far apart from the rich and powerful Washington warlords who order them into battle.
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CUTTING-EDGE satellite technology was used to make sure that American TV viewers saw Pentagon-approved images of U.S. soldiers in Iraq throughout the invasion. But there was no footage from home--of the wrenching poverty that many military families face every day.
The lower ranks of the U.S. military are filled by the working poor--young men and women who entered the military because of the promise of job training, government subsidies for college and an alternative to minimum-wage jobs. This is the impact of the "poverty draft"--what the military has relied on to drum up volunteers since conscription ended in the 1970s. But the economic problems that drive many people into the military often follow them into the barracks.
A recent Defense Department study concluded that 40 percent of low-ranking soldiers face "substantial financial difficulties." And no wonder. While the average officer in the higher-ranking grades can count on fixed pay and a benefit package that can rise into the six-figure range, the majority of enlisted soldiers receive no more than a poverty wage--on average, around $1,300 a month.
Like so many working people on the bottom end of the income ladder, military families have to become experts at stretching a tiny budget to meet many needs. Even with housing and food subsidies, it’s common for soldiers and their spouses to take on extra part-time jobs.
But often enough, that isn’t enough. Amy Levesque, a former military wife, now runs a food pantry in Watertown, N.Y.--a short drive from the Fort Drum military base. She says that military families make up 20 percent of the needy who show up daily for hot meals. Likewise, at the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in San Diego, it’s common for many families to rely on local food pantries and soup kitchens when they run short of money at the end of the month.
In fact, poverty among U.S. soldiers has become so critical that the international charity organization Feed the Children has developed a special campaign to deal with the issue. Called the Emergency Military Family Fund, it’s a relief program for families who are plunged into poverty when a wage-earning parent is sent off to war. Since December, the organization has delivered 600,000 pounds of food to more than 6,200 families at 12 different bases.
Another consequence of class inequality in the military can be seen in the disproportionate numbers of minorities. African Americans and Latinos are heavily concentrated in the lower ranks, while deeply entrenched racism ensures that no more than a token number of minorities climb the ranks into the officer corps.
While Blacks make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population, they comprise 22 percent of the military. Half of the enlisted women in the military are Black. It was therefore no surprise that 20 percent of U.S. casualties from the invasion of Iraq until the fall of Baghdad were Black. Together, Blacks and Latinos accounted for more than one-third of the casualties.
Latinos make up only 8 percent of U.S. military personnel--less than their numbers in the population as a whole. But Latinos are the most over-represented group at the base of the military hierarchy.
In a mirror reflection of U.S. society, Blacks and Latinos tend to get the worst work. They are heavily concentrated in service jobs and the infantry--but almost nonexistent higher up the ladder. For instance, Blacks make up only 2 percent of military pilots and around 5 percent of the highly touted Special Operations forces.
A third and virtually invisible group in the military are the growing ranks of non-citizens who enlist to get citizenship. About 37,000 immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, fought in Iraq.
Dubbed "green card" soldiers, they see military service--for a term of three years--as the only way to gain U.S. citizenship in the face of rigid immigration restrictions. In Iraq, this group paid dearly for that promise--accounting for one in 10 U.S. casualties.
This is the truth about the ordinary soldiers sent to Iraq to kill--and be killed. And with resistance to the U.S. occupation rising among ordinary Iraqis, even the mainstream media that led the cheers for the U.S. war has admitted that many soldiers are asking questions.
"Six months after arriving in Kuwait and almost three months after entering Iraq, they were ready to go home," a New York Times reporter wrote of the Army’s Third Infantry Division, one of the first to ride into Baghdad. "Some are haunted by the deaths they caused--and suffered--and have sought counseling. All are tired and hot and increasingly bitter. Morale has plummeted as sharply as the temperature has risen."