Military Recruiting FAQ

What you need to know about Military Recruiting - Frequently Asked Questions & Definitions
Click below on any question to get more information..

1. What is counter-recruitment?

2. The No Child Left Behind Act and Opt-ing Out

3. Other Important Recruitment Information ­
Click here for Advice from Veterans on Military Service & Recruiting Practices

What is Counter-Recruitment?

Counter-recruitment is a national movement to resist the recruitment of young people into the US military.

Counter-recruitment has several components: informing youth of the realities of military service; resisting recruitment through the schools via JROTC and testing; taking action on military sexual trauma; offering career alternatives to the military; vigiling and protesting in front of military recruiting offices; giving support to war resisters and veterans; and building awareness of militarism in our culture.

Our section on national counter-recruitment groups lists 21 active groups. Behind those websites and organizations stand combat veterans, researchers, high school teachers, civil rights attorneys, sexual abuse survivors, mothers and fathers, city government officials, students and artists. CODEPINK is proud to bring our lively woman-centered activism to the movement.


No Child Left Behind and Opting Out
What is the No Child Left Behind Act, and what does it have to do with student privacy?

The No Child left Behind Act (NCLB) is another name for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The amendments made to ESEA in 2002 have become known as the No Child Left Behind Act. In a nutshell, the military is invading student privacy by circumventing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), passed in 1974 and it is getting around Section 9528 of ESEA, passed in 2002.

FERPA and ESEA: It's complicated, but this should simplify it.

The FERPA legislation says that schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student (over 18) in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions:

- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies;
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Notice that Military Recruiters aren't on the list!

Section 9528 of NCLB changed that. NCLB says schools must provide, on a request made by military recruiters, access to secondary school students' names, addresses, and telephone listings. Period. Nothing else. Just names, addresses, and numbers. Subsequent rulings have limited the request to high school juniors and seniors.

NCLB also says secondary school students, or the parents of the student, may request that the student's name, address, and telephone listing not be released without prior written parental consent.

The best way to illustrate how the military is getting around the law is to provide an example. Let's take a look at Prince William County (VA) Public Schools' policy.

See page 1:

According to their website, Prince William provides the military directory information that includes email addresses, participation in activities and sports, attendance records, photographs, video, height and weight, and degrees or awards received. The same information pertaining to graduates is released as well. Apparently, Prince William is not abiding by the law. Is your district?

One other thing about Section 9528 of the NCLB Act.. The law says schools are supposed to "notify parents of the option to make a request" to remove the child's name from lists being sent to the military. Many districts are asleep at the switch and have failed to tell parents they can opt out.

Across the country school districts are all over the map in their interpretation and administration of Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Some districts release names, phone numbers, and addresses on students and graduates to the military. Some do not. Some release information on Freshmen and Sophomores. Some do not. Some school systems have developed specific opt-out forms for military recruiting; some have not. Some systems mail opt out forms home to parents; Some do not.

Some districts allow parents to use the FERPA form to remove their children's names from lists being sent to the military and some do not. Some districts require parents to write separate letters to opt out and give no guidance. Some districts allow parents to easily access opt-out forms on line, others do not. Some school districts allow students to opt out. Some require parents to do so. Some allow both. Some require parents to opt out annually; some allow them to do so in perpetuity.

It's a mess.

64 members of the U.S. House of Representatives recognize the problem and have rallied behind Mike Honda's HR 1346, The Student Privacy Protection Act of 2007. Honda's bill would reverse NCLB Sec 9528, effectively turning "opt-out" into "opt-in". In other words, Honda's bill would provide the military with names, addresses and phone numbers of high school children if their parents signed a form authorizing recruiter access.

This "student privacy protection" is different from the way it is now. The current law automatically ships student info to the military, upon a request by a recruiter, if parents DON'T act. The way Honda sees it, if parents are eager to have military predators call their children, they can sign a form and submit it to their high school administration.

See and type HR 1346 in the search bar. As of July 2008, this bill is currently stuck in committee.

What can you do? Get on line and research your school system. Put "FERPA" into the search bar. If you find discrepancies, like the Prince William case above, take action. You can also contact your House member and tell her to support HR 13r6. ­Click here for sample opt-out forms in English and Spanish

What information about students are recruiters entitled to?

Schools are required to hand over the names, addresses, and phone numbers of Juniors and Seniors if requested by a military recruiter - if parents or the student has not opted out. Often, school officials and activists are under the mistaken impression that "directory information" may be shared with recruiters. As we've seen in the Prince William case, school districts have varying interpretations of exactly what constitutes directory information.

Who can opt out?

The law says students or their parents may "opt out" by sending written notice to the school district that the schools do not have permission to share their information with military recruiters. This is one area where FERPA and NCLB clash. FERPA allows students to withhold personal information if they've turned 18. Section 9528 of NCLB simply says that a student may request that her name not be released. Some school systems follow FERPA and some follow NCLB.

How do I opt out?

First, you have to determine if your school system allows students to opt out. Some schools provide forms for this purpose. If your school does not provide such a form, use the Student Peace Action form above and send it to the Principal's office.

Do I have to opt out every year or can I do it once and be done with it?

Again, Section 9528 is vague and school systems have differing interpretations. Some schools allow students to opt out once and for all. Others require students to opt out yearly. The law says schools must "comply with any request" not to release student information to military recruiters. We interpret this to mean if you opt out once it's a done deal.

I'm a student and I'd like to hand out counter-recruitment information. Can I have a table at school to do this?

Your school is required to respect your First Amendment right to distribute counter-recruitment information on school property outside of the classroom. Your school should allow you to distribute counter-recruitment information in the same manner as any military recruiter. If a military recruiter regularly sets up a table in the lunchroom, students should be allowed the same opportunity. You must also be allowed to distribute materials at other times before, during and after school, as long as it not disruptive.

Non-student groups do not necessarily have the same rights as students, however, and must contact the school to receive permission to be come on campus to share counter-recruitment information with students.

Schools may also decide when and how military recruiters have access to the school. While they may not prohibit recruiters from coming to campus, the school has the right to decide where and when recruiters may have access to students.

If you feel your rights are being violated, contact your local ACLU office or your local National Lawyers Guild office. You may be able to speak to an attorney who can generally advise you on how to proceed.
What if the school district tells me I can't or stalls my request?

Contact your local branch of the ACLU or NLG to ask for their assistance. Many chapters are in discussion with school districts regarding the privacy requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Military Recruiters set up in the cafeteria while college recruiters usually meet students in the guidance office. Is this fair?

Not only is it unfair, it's illegal. NCLB's Section 9528 guarantees equal access to military recruiters, not greater access.



­ What's wrong with the JROTC?

There are several problems associated with the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps (JROTC) program that is offered in many of America's schools. Memorandum 50 from the US Army Recruiting Command makes it clear that the JROTC program is, in fact, a recruiting program, despite the military's claims to the contrary.

There are generally four aspects of the JROTC program we oppose:
  1. JROTC instructors need not be college educated or certified
    Teachers in public schools across the country must hold at least a Bachelor's degree and have state certification. Most states eventually require teachers to earn their Masters' degrees, following the guidelines of the No Child Left Behind Act. School Districts give JROTC instructors a pass. JROTC need only possess a GED and usually teach for-credit courses in all four high school grades. All that is required of them is that they "have the mentality, personality, appearance, and bearing to represent the Army well in the civilian community." One branch, theArmy, is taking steps to require JROTC instructors to hold an A.A. degree by 2009.

  2. The typically little or no curricular supervision exercised by public schools over the JROTC program
    There is little or no curricular oversight exercised over the JROTC program in the schools. What are these GED-educated military personnel teaching our children? It's not good. Call your school system to find out.

  3. The textbooks are full of reactionary militaristic, propaganda
    JROTC is a Propaganda Tool that distorts U.S. History to a captive audience of 500,000 American school children yearly. "What did you learn in school today?" "I learned that might makes right and the ­U.S. is never wrong." See the Army's JROTC textbook to read this outrageous distortion of truth (allow 30 seconds to download)

    Examine the following brief survey of historical inaccuracies:
    The words in quotes are taken from the standard Army JROTC text used in classrooms across the country.

    Most high school history texts in use today discuss U.S. imperialism when discussing the Spanish American War of 1898, not the JROTC text:

    "America went to war on the side of Cuba to help that country gain its freedom from Spain…. According to the terms of the peace treaty, signed in December 1898, Spain gave Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the United States and agreed to give up its claim to Cuba. Cuba became a free nation in 1902… The Spanish - American War helped to dim the sour feelings between the North and South as all Americans united together to fight for one cause. The war also proved to the rest of the world that the United States was once again a truly united and powerful nation."

    World War I: The JROTC text fails to mention that the Lusitania was heavily armed or that the US regularly used passenger ships to sell ammunition to the British:

    "Then, in May 1915, a German U-boat (submarine) sank the British liner Lusitania resulting in the loss of 1,198 lives, including 128 Americans. The sinking of the Lusitania outraged the American public, and it lead the U.S. government to officially protest the German action. However, German submarines continued to sink ships with American cargo."

    JROTC's treatment of the Korean War is completely distorted. Korea's first President, U.S. - intalled Syngman Rhee, was a ruthless dictator. He is associated with the Daejun and Suwon Massacres that claimed 80,000 lives. Rhee is also implicated in the assassinations of countless political rivals. The Koreans despised him and he was chased out in 1960. Also, he U.S. never "withdrew from South Korea." We're still there!

    "When the Soviet Union evacuated North Korea in 1948, they left behind a Communist puppet government that did not allow free elections to unify Korea. In 1949, the Americans withdrew from South Korea and left a democratic government led by Syngman Rhee

    The Gulf of Tonkin incident was fabricated by the Johnson administration to provide a pretext for war, not dissimilar from President Bush's lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

    "The event that marked the turning point in the American policy in Vietnam was the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964. Two U.S. destroyers were conducting routine intelligence-gathering patrols in international waters when North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked them."

    The U.S. murdered thousands while invading the Dominican Republic four times in the 20th century to protect American corporate interests:

    "When a revolt broke out in the Dominican Republic, its government requested U.S. assistance. Fearing that pro-Communist rebels supplied by Castro might overthrow the Dominican government, President Johnson sent in the Marines and the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. The Americans remained in the Dominican Republic for a year, acting as a peace-keeping force until the political situation settled down."

    Obtain a copy of JROTC textbooks in use in your schools and tell school administrators you object to this reactionary, military propaganda.

  4. The program counters school-based initiatives that encourage students to settle disputes nonviolently
    Finally, JROTC's militarism runs counter to school-based initiatives that encourage students to settle disputes nonviolently. At a time when schools across the country are employing a variety of methods -- from metal detectors to peer conflict mediation -- to curb incidents of violence in the schools, create safe learning environments, and teach peaceful means of conflict resolution, JROTC's introduction of weapons training, its partnership with the NRA to sponsor marksmanship matches, and its modeling of militaristic solutions to problems contradict the schools' stated opposition to violence.

What is the ASVAB?

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a grueling half-day examination given to 900,000 juniors and seniors in 13,000 high schools and post-secondary schools every year. The battery consists of 9 individual tests on the following subjects: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, General Science, Auto & Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Electronics Information, and Assembling Objects. Unless a school district or high school selects option 8, the data from the ASVAB is forwarded to recruiters and to the military's Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies Program, a massive database that collects information on approximately 30 million US citizens from 16 to 24 years of age.

The ASVAB is promoted as a voluntary "career exploration program" administered to juniors and seniors through a collaborative effort between the Department of Education and the Department of Defense. Many schools across the country, however, make it mandatory for students to take the test and others coerce them to do so. (See the partial list below.) The test represents an egregious constitutional violation of the federal government's meddling in state-supported educational institutions.

According to the US Army Recruiting Command's School Recruiting Program Handbook, the primary purpose of this test is to provide military recruiters "with a source of leads of high school juniors and seniors qualified through the ASVAB for enlistment into the Active Army and Army Reserve." The same document says the ASVAB is designed to "provide high school students and their counselors with a tool for vocational career exploration through evaluation of students' current aptitudes as measured by the ASVAB…" In order to sell the ASVAB, the test is being marketed as the "Career Exploration Program." The military has been able to convince thousands of high school administrators and counselors that the ASVAB is valuable in helping children decide career paths. Visit the military's official "ASVAB" website and see if you can determine what the ASVAB acronym stands for, or if the program has anything to do with the military.

Some schools are catching on, however. Officials at Milan High School in Milan, Michigan came under a firestorm of controversy after requiring all sophomores to take the test without notifying parents. Officials there have decided to do away with the ASVAB, substituting a Michigan-developed test. In one New Hampshire district the number of schools offering the ASVAB dropped from 30 to 19 in a year, amidst parental concerns about their children's privacy.

All students who sit for the ASVAB are required to sign a "Privacy Statement" that gives permission to the military to use private information and test results for recruiting purposes. Most states, however, have laws that restrict minors from relinquishing private information without the consent of their parents.

Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland and Los Angeles, CA have become the first in the nation to institute Option 8 throughout the school system. Option 8 allows the administration of the test but precludes test data from falling into the hands of military recruiters. Schools have 8 options regarding the administration and release of ASVAB information. For example, Option 1 permits test results and other student information to be released to military recruiters without prior consent, while Option 8 requires active consent to release the ASVAB test results and private information. Montgomery school officials cited the importance of ensuring student privacy and securing parental notification when they recently changed their policy. The Montgomery district also requires students to have a signed parental permission form to take the test.

The military has done an excellent job in keeping option 8 a secret. Most high school principals and central office administrators across the country are ignorant of the ASVAB option that allows the test to be administered without the results being forwarded to recruiting services; but the military has even more in its favor than the ignorance of high school officials. Options aside, ardent militarists have managed to implement mandatory ASVAB testing in hundreds of high schools throughout the country.

Is the ASVAB mandatory in your district? Simply go to your school system's website and search for ASVAB. See if students are forced to take it. Contact Code Pink if they are. One way to find out if the ASVAB is required is to perform a google search with the name of your high school, the word ASVAB, and the word "Juniors." You may find an article from a school website that says "All juniors must take the ASVAB on such and such a day.."

What is the Poverty Draft? A few quick facts... ­ ­

  • The US military takes advantage of an economy that increasingly squeezes out those without a college degree, while gutting college financial aid and eliminating affordable housing.
  • Military recruiters never mention that the college money is difficult to come by, or that very few job skills are transferable from military to civilian life.
  • Puerto Rico is the Army's number one recruiting territory. Capitalizing on an unemployment rate of more than 40%, Army recruiting offices in Puerto Rico garner more than 4 times the number of recruits US-based recruiting offices average on a yearly basis.
  • JROTC programs in US public schools are growing at an exponential rate. JROTC is not considered a recruiting tool by the Department of Defense (DoD), but the DoD encourages the relationships between JROTC instructors and military recruiters. In spite of the DOD's claim, more than 50% of JROTC cadets with two or more years of JROTC experience join the military as enlisted personnel. Most JROTC programs occur in schools in working class or impoverished communities. More often than not those schools are also predominately populated by youth of color.
What is the Green Card Draft? (Military Recruiting & Immigration)

There are 37,000 non-citizen, green card holders in the military. A major incentive for them to join is that they receive a shortcut to citizenship.

Citing the war on terrorism, Bush issued an order permitting green card holders who are on active duty to immediately apply for citizenship, waiving the usual three-year waiting time. The government also created a team to quickly process citizenship applications from the military. Such requests have since quadrupled, from about 300 a month to more than 1,300 a month.

California produces the lion's share of these enlistees. Half of the first 10 Californians killed in the War on Iraq were not citizens.

Critics say the government is playing off the desire for citizenship to exploit these mostly poor immigrants - from Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean - for the war effort. "Especially at a time when the doors for citizenship are closing, this may be one of few routes left," said Connie Rice, a civil rights attorney. "It's a tough but well-worn path. Is it fair? No."

We agree. It's true that many, if not most of the enlistees, have true patriotic feelings for America. But why should citizenship be so hard for them to obtain--why should they have to risk death to get it? For example, take Los Angeles City College student Winston Leiva. He is motivated by loyalty and respect. He came to Los Angeles at 14, joining family members who were escaping political oppression and economic hardship in Guatemala. Out of gratitude to America, the 29-year-old Koreatown resident said, he signed up for the Marines and is prepared to go to war.

After living here for 15 years, shouldn't Leiva be able to obtain citizenship any time he wanted, regardless of whether he served in the military? Apparently not, because "Some have spent years and thousands of dollars seeking citizenship through attorneys and immigration consultants," recruiters say.

We think demanding service in the military as a quid pro quo for faster citizenship is too high a price to extract from these green card holders. What good will citizenship do for them if they die on the battlefield before they have a chance to enjoy it?

Article originally published at Talk Left

More Articles about the Green Card Draft

What is the Selective Service System (SSS)?

Click here for an overview of Selective Service, Conscientious Objection, and Alternative Service.

How can I find a recruitment center in my area?

Check out these websites to find military recruiters in your area
  • To obtain US military recruitment materials, call 1.800.USA.ARMY or 1.800.USA.NAVY and request materials.
How do I find recruitment statistics for my area?

Check out the National Priorities Project website for statistics military recruitment in your area.

What is a Conscientious Objector (CO)?

Conscientious objectors (CO's) are people who refuse to participate in the military and war. Some are civilians who do things like oppose war taxes and work to reduce the role of the military in society. Others become conscientious objectors only after they have experienced being in the military firsthand, either during peacetime or wartime. Some speak out publicly after having served in the military, forming a GI resistance movement.

If you think you might be a conscientious objector to registering for Selective Service (the draft) or you are in the military and you think you might qualify for a CO discharge, find out where you can get help and information.
Click here for more info on Conscientious Objection