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Ugly reality waiting for the soldiers they recruit
No to war and racism

July 11, 2003 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

Urban neighborhoods nationwide are feeling the economic destruction dealt by "President-select" Bush. The U.S. military is in search of young, politically uninformed youth from economically challenged parts of America (most of which are made up of Blacks, Latinos, and poor whites) for possible invasions. It's the perfect time for recruiting--and the nation's young and poor are falling for the Armed Forces' lies with false promises of free or affordable education and glowing pride by serving their country.

The Army promises the $50,000 Montgomery GI Bill, but there are many obstacles. The graduation rate with a four-year degree is 15 percent, because student-soldiers are constantly distracted with duties that leave them exhausted. But they should consider themselves lucky. Two—thirds of all recruits never get financial aid.

"Tremendous career opportunities" outside military life for recruits are also false. The truth is that military skills obtained by soldiers are almost never good for the outside world.

"Joining the military is a dead end," says the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO). "After you've spent a few years in the military, you're two to five times more likely to be homeless than your friends who never joined." One-third of all homeless men are veterans.

As if that insult isn't enough, soldiers often have to deal with sexual and racial harassment and hazing, and the physical and psychological injuries that result from it. In fact, the CCCO received 15,000 calls last year to their GI Rights Hotline, an astounding increase from the 1,859 in 1996.

Blacks make up approximately 12 percent of the population, but the Army is 21 percent Black--and 25 percent of them are involved combat. The government's attitude is: let the poor folks fight, die and come back damaged by conditions such as Gulf War Syndrome.

The chicken-hawk draft dodgers in Washington keep people of color in the line of fire, forcing them to pull the trigger on their allies--the international working class. This is why we need to say no to war and no to racism, and smash the bosses' lies by building international working class solidarity.

Dan Clemente, New York City

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