Journals The Tattoo

Dodging recruitment

TERRYVILLE, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Seniors are put through a lot in their final year of high school. Most of the workload revolves around applying for college and scholarships, but starting the summer before senior year there’s another group vying for a teenager’s attention: the military.
The various branches of the United States military, particularly the Army, have stepped up their efforts to try to sign up as many high school kids as they can in recent years.
Recruitment rates are at an all-time low – and with soldiers dying every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t imagine why.
Anyone who can hold a gun is prime for service, and these days that’s just about anybody.
There’s been controversy lately over the military’s ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) testing in high schools, which is a test that essentially tells you what areas of the armed services you’re best suited for.
In my experience, though, whether you take the ASVAB or not is irrelevant, since all public high schools submit a list of student names and addresses to the government.
Once they have your name and address, it’s all too easy to get your phone number, and once they have your phone number, there’s no reason why they might not call you to ask you if you’ve considered a career in the military.
This wouldn’t be so bad if that’s as far as it went. The first call I received, I told the recruiter that I was attending college after high school and the Army (as this particular recruiter was from the Army) was not for me.
“Why not?” Well, I’m going to college so I won’t be going into the Army.
“Are you aware that the Army will pay up to X amount of money (I don’t remember how much they offered) for your college education?”
That’s a tempting offer, but all things considered, there won’t be any college for me after the Army if I’m dead.
“Would you ever consider joining the Army if you weren’t going to college?” That seems like a pointless question given the situation, but I tell him no.
“Why not?” Is this an Army recruiter or a telemarketing call?
This whole thing continued back and forth, me constantly reiterating that I was going to college so I wasn’t interested in joining the Army, thanks for calling, goodbye.
You’d think that at this point they would cross my name off their list and that would be the end of that.
But they called again, and I had to go through this whole conversation a second time. I told them again that I was going to college and wasn’t open to joining the Army.
I’m not sure what it was about me that made them think I was such a prime candidate. By chance, I was out of state when the ASVAB was given at my high school, so they wouldn’t have even been aware of whether I was suited for this kind of stuff in the first place. But like I said before, they’ll take anybody.
Then they called a third time. Since the whole “I’m going to college” routine didn’t seem to be working, I simply told this recruiter that I was going into a hole to die after high school so the Army wasn’t in my future.
“Well if you’re going to die, who’s going to dig that hole for you?” This can’t be a serious question.
“I was hoping someone was going to generously offer to dig it for me posthumously.” This conversation was slightly shorter than the previous two, but not by much.
I’m not quite sure how many times they’ve called since then. I’ve lost track because I no longer answer the phone in my house and, if my parents pick up, I refuse to take calls from them.
Although I think I’ll make an exception the next time they call and tell them, yeah, I was thinking about joining the Army – just not the American one.
Personally, I think you should be able to support the troops without literally supporting the troops by being in the foxhole with them.

Stefan Koski is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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