One can try and understand UW assistant professor Amy Hagopian's views on military recruiting and how recruiters in high schools are like "child predators," grooming the young for an activity that's ultimately bad for their health. And one can actually understand how the number of deaths, injuries and cases of things like PTSD might skew the data enough for her to get a paper on the subject published in the American Journal of Public Health. But what seems to be the ultimate point that Hagopian is missing, and what pushes her argument from the understandable to the batshit crazy, is that people always have a choice of whether to join the military or not.
Essentially, she argues that military recruiters in high schools practice "predatory grooming behavior" when they warm up to kids and try and convince them that a stint in a uniform will be the best decision once they graduate. And because of her conclusion that service in the military is ultimately detrimental to their health, the recruiting process itself, she says, is akin to child predators befriending their victims, only to abuse them later.
Here's the full interview:
It's true that some people who join the military will die, be maimed, screwed up mentally, or otherwise not in a position to benefit from the paid college, on-the-job training and relatively high pay that most service members will enjoy. But unless recruiters have graduated from pamphlets, videos and buddy talk to full-on brainwashing, these kids still have a choice.
The reason that military members get the great benefits, opportunities and nearly universal respect that they do is because what they do is difficult and dangerous. A 18-year-old who joins the Army and asks for an infantry post doesn't do so because he thinks it will involve making PowerPoint presentations and faxing documents. He knows it could get him seriously hurt--or worse.
Just like a miner doesn't sign up to dig for rocks miles underground because they think it will be the best way to stay safe. They do it because they've determined that it's going to give them the best shot at putting food on the table and living a decent life.
These recruiters aren't going into high schools dressed like lawyers and offering law fellowships, only to pull a switcheroo and send them to fight in Afghanistan. People aren't dumb. They know the score.
Hagopian's ultimate conclusion is that recruiters shouldn't be allowed in high schools. But besides the fact that disallowing them would be grossly unconstitutional, it also would be a disservice to both the students and the public as a whole.
Until the country no longer needs a military and until a job in the armed services is no longer a paid enterprise, young people should have as many choices as possible with what to do with their lives.
Because in the end, it's all about choice.