I was shocked and dismayed by the recent account of deceptive
military recruitment tactics employed on Kapolei High School students
("Deception allegedly lures 2 boys to Navy," Star-Bulletin, June 15).
I am especially concerned because many young people induced into
military service are targeted through our public schools.
Our students deserve accurate, complete and comparative information
about military service before they sign a contract that could result
in them killing another person or being killed.
Enlisting into military service has provided many young adults
opportunities they would not have had otherwise, such as traveling to
other countries, engaging with other cultures, and learning and
utilizing technical skills. Unfortunately, for too many young adults
these opportunities also include premature death, serious bodily
injury or long-term psychological distress.
There is no question that the war in Iraq is one of the most divisive
issues facing America today. The Board of Education has a
Controversial Issues Policy, which states in relevant part: "Teachers
shall refer students to resources reflecting all points of view.
Discussions, including contributions made by the teacher or resource
person, shall be maintained on an objective, factual basis. Stress
shall be placed on learning how to make judgments based on facts."
Accurate and complete information means telling the whole truth - the
good, the bad and the ugly. How many troops are killed every year?
How many people are discharged with injuries? What are the
psychological effects of going into war? Is everyone who enlists
eligible for all benefits, college tuition, health care; or are there
additional requirements written in small print?
Critical thinking also requires access to comparative information.
Students deserve to be provided with nonviolent alternatives to
serving their country and preparing for their future.
The Department of Education may be "mandated" to provide military
recruiters with the private information of students who do not
opt-out; however, the DOE is in a position to formalize guidelines to
ensure greater precautions are taken when military recruiters make
contact with our students at our public schools. With 4,100 American
military casualties so far in the Iraq war, the stakes are too high
to continue allowing recruiters to go unchallenged and without accountability.
It is devastating to imagine how many of those 4,100 soldiers
enlisted after being misled by the commander in chief that Iraq had
weapons of mass destruction and was intending to use them against the
Kim Coco Iwamoto is an at-large member of the Hawaii Board of
Education, representing Oahu.