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As long as mankind shall bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst for military glory will remain the vice of the most exalted characters.
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April 8, 2005

Beware Monster.com


by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst

"We have more than 250 trained and certified speakers who deliver our presentations. They are trained not to talk down to or lecture students; instead, they present the message as if they were a big brother or sister simply giving advice about their experiences and how to achieve success. The presentations are dynamic and engaging, holding the audience's attention through relevant interactive exercises, on-stage volunteer exercises and a detailed workbook…"

- www.MakingItCount.com (emphasis added)

1,200 (77 percent) of the 1,543 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq [as of 4/5/05] were in their teens and twenties. Of these, 289 (18.7 percent) were high school/early college age (18-21).

- statistics from Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

"Evaluate people, especially experts and leaders, not by their position, money, education, or eloquent words, but by their fruit: the human consequences to which their words and actions lead."

- Jesus on Parenting: 10 Essential Principles That Will Transform Your Family

My youngest child is 17, and the military has joined forces with a name that young people have grown to trust – Monster.com – in a terribly deceptive program it owns and operates called "Making College and Career Count." After the presentation in the auditorium, the perky speaker instructed all students to fill out the conveniently detachable back cover of booklet titled "My Career!," and hand it in before returning to class.

How very convenient for the military. Now that convincing teens to go fight in a war where most of the soldiers killed are young has hit a wall, it's essential to get those kids' names and numbers. What better way to gather that information for your recruiters and/or an imminent draft board, than to do it at their high school while talking about college rather than the military, thus raising no red flags? Kids are such easy targets.

Because we've talked about the ways in which young people are deceived into signing up for what may prove to be their deaths, and about the military's need for identifying information in the coming draft, my daughter opted not to share her name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and date of birth.

Sadly, however, most students won't notice that all those questions about students' plans for college and career are a cover for the real questions, which are embedded near the end: "If you are considering a military career, which of the following describes your plans?" and "Which of the armed services would you prefer?"

Neither will most kids notice or care about fine print at the bottom, printed in a font size so small that few will bother trying to read it: "To learn more about what kinds of information you might receive … visit www.YourFuture.org," which means they'll never see the "privacy" statement, which makes very clear where their "private" information is going:

"Dear Student: The most important benefit of participating in this voluntary survey and research project is the information you and your family will receive from colleges and universities. In some cases, you and your family may also receive information from non-profit and for-profit organizations and government agencies, including offers for educational products and services such as student loans and financial aid, college admissions and tutorial services, extra-curricular enrichment and recognition programs, career, employment and military opportunities, and camps. NRCCUA does not share your information with commercial marketers offering to sell you non-education-related products and services." (emphasis added)

It Gets Worse

But that's not the worst of it. If you visit Monster.com's www.MakingItCount.com, the Web site for that duplicitous and self-serving "workbook" that my daughter and her classmates were told to fill out, you'll see that college isn't all that's being sold.

On MakingItCount's pages "Ways to Pay" and "Scholarships," Army links are prominently displayed. When you click on those links, you immediately see references to the costs of college, and how enlisting in the military can (supposedly) eliminate the worries of money-strapped families who want their kids to have a college degree:

Aimed at the kids:

"Whether you're a college-bound high school student or already attending a college or university, Army ROTC has scholarships available. Scholarships are awarded based on a student's merit and grades, not financial need. Army ROTC scholarships are valuable in many ways:

"Two-, three-, and four-year scholarship options based on the time remaining to complete your degree.

"Scholarship amounts vary.

"Additional allowances pay for books and fees." (emphasis added)

Aimed at the parents:

"By serving the country and protecting our freedoms, your son or daughter will be building a better future for others as well as for him or herself. A future full of pride, honor, and opportunities. But the benefits don't end there. Your son or daughter can also earn money for college, gain training in a multitude of skill areas, receive excellent healthcare benefits and take advantage of a wide variety of career options, just to name a few." (emphasis added)

The Army National Guard Web site is far more exciting visually, however, and pushes the pay-for-college angle with tidbits such as:

"Did you know?

"You can receive over $60,000 for college or technical school education.

"You can receive up to $1,500 a year to help repay existing student loans. The Army National Guard offers enlistment bonuses up to $10,000.

"Higher Education is Within Your Reach.

"Don't let cost get in the way of your higher education. In the Army National Guard, you can receive the funding necessary while you gain the experience of a lifetime."

High school students aren't the only ones targeted by sophisticated manipulation by military recruiters, as reflected by the new (and decidedly desperate) emphasis on using storytelling by satisfied customers whose children enlisted (see "Meet the Families" on Monster.com's "Making It Count" Army link). We who understand what can happen to children who enlist in Mr. Bush's endless wars have an obligation to help educate parents, particularly low-income parents, about the slick new appeals that are beginning to target them. These emotionally arousing ads play on any parent's love for their child and hopes for his or her success… but we must remind them that not every soldier's parent has reason to be a happy customer.

Pardon me for having no patience with dirty tricks played on children and their parents, but this latest scam, perpetrated in high schools across America, is simply unconscionable. Every person who cares about children and families should speak out against the newest in a long line of military intrusions into our public schools, which increasingly erode parents' trust in educators to safeguard their children during school hours.


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Dr. Teresa Whitehurst is a clinical psychologist, author of Jesus on Parenting(2004) and coauthor of The Nonviolent Christian Parent (2004). She offers parenting workshops, holds discussion groups on Nonviolent Christianity, and writes the column, "Democracy, Faith and Values: Because You Shouldn’t Have to Choose Just One." Visit her website.

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