(February 2, 2010)
by Jamaal Abdul-Alim
At a time when high unemployment and high college costs compel more
youths to consider military enlistment, a new federal report raises
warnings about the tactics of some military recruiters.
Under pressure to meet their monthly quotas, some recruiters created
fake high school diplomas for youths, hid the youths' criminal
records, failed to get parental signatures for their applications and
helped some recruits cheat on their military aptitude tests,
according to a the Government Accountability Office report on
"recruiter irregularities" from 2006 through 2008. Other recruiters
plied underage youths with drugs and alcohol and hounded them for sex.
"Of the 7,081 cases of recruiter irregularities reported by the
service components during this time period," the report says,
"substantiated cases comprised 22.5 percent (or 1,592 cases)."
The punishments handed out by the Department of Defense included
admonishment, court-martial and "other than honorable discharge."
Rick Jahnkow, program coordinator for the Project on Youth and
Non-Military Opportunities – which opposes military recruitment in
schools – said the report should be required reading for school
officials. "It will provide them with a reality check on what could
be going on in their high schools, where recruiters are often allowed
to wander unrestricted through lunch areas and hallways," Jahnkow said.
The most common infraction involved "concealment or falsification of
documents or information" in order to get recruits enlisted despite
their checkered pasts or educational shortcomings. Examples include
an Air Force recruiter omitting a DUI violation from an applicant's
application packet, and a Marine Corps recruiter attempting to have a
recent recruit take the ASVAB for another applicant.
Other irregularities involved sex and drugs, such as a recruiter for
the U.S. Marines impregnating a 17-year-old girl at the high school
where he was assigned to recruit.
The report calls for the Department of Defense to do more to share
data on recruiter wrongdoing in order to learn more about how to
address the problem. In a written response to the report, the
department said it "concurs with the report's recommendations."
The report was prepared for U.S. Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-Calif.),
whose congressional district includes a large military base in San
Diego, and U.S. Rep Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), whose district includes
several military bases. Davis is the chairwoman of the House
Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Wilson, perhaps best known for
shouting "You lie!" to President Obama during a presidential speech
to Congress last year, is its ranking member.