With military recruitment hitting an all-time low, the government is getting creative with its approach, including scouting young people on social media.
The U.S. military is under fire. With numerous deaths at the Fort Hood base in Texas this year, and recruitment centers closing throughout the country, joining the military isn’t as appealing as it once was. The government is implementing new strategies in order to reach out to young prospects through inventive measures, such as recruiting on social media. Amid all the turmoil, President Donald Trump continues to brag about increasing military funding to record numbers, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is seeking to halt military funding that targets recruitment in middle and high schools.
“Whether through recruitment stations in their lunchrooms, or now through e-sports teams, children in low-income communities are persistently targeted for enlistment,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement to The New York Times. She said the military “can for some provide a rewarding career,” but added that “low-income Americans are not being given anywhere near the same information or access to trade schools, college or other post graduate opportunities.”
“Low-income Americans are not being given anywhere near the same information or access to trade schools, college or other post graduate opportunities,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said.
“In many public high schools where military recruiters have a daily presence, there is not even a counselor,” she said. “As a result, the military stops feeling like a ‘choice’ and starts feeling like the only option for many young, low-income Americans.”
This is the second initiative Rep. Ocasio-Cortez introduced against military funding in a week. On July 22, she presented an amendment that would prevent the military from promoting themselves on entertainment platforms such as Twitch.tv, video games, esports, or live streaming.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only one who is discouraging military recruitment that targets low-income citizens. Earlier this month, after the remains of soldier Vanessa Guillén were discovered not far from Fort Hood, Domingo García, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), questioned the standard procedures of the military and their means to protect service members, especially Latinas. García urged Latinas not to join the military.
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“We are asking all women, especially Latina women or their families: Do not enlist in the army until we have the assurance they will be protected and taken care of when they serve our country. And right now, I just don’t believe the military is capable of doing that because of what happened to Vanessa Guillén,” García told ABC13.
In April, Maj. Gen. James Bierman, commander of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, told ABC News that he reached about 40% of his estimated 37,000-recruit goal this year. In order to increase recruitment, the military has also lowered its standards for acceptance. For example, Military Times reported that about 12% of recruits are allowed to waive either their weight, drug use, criminal records, or test scores in order to join the military.