Thinking of enlisting in the U.S. Army? The Marines? The Air Force? The Navy? National Guard? Before you sign away 8 years of your life—that’s right, U.S. military contracts are for eight years—check out some of the resources below. They feature the testimonies of U.S. war veterans as well as people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries affected by U.S. military intervention.
In the words of former US Marine Matt Howard, “military recruiters lie, plain and simple.” They lie in several ways: by promising you grand things that you may never get, by hiding the horrible realities and lasting consequences of war for everyone involved in it, and by telling you that the U.S. government goes to war to promote freedom, democracy, and peace. Here is some of the information that no U.S. military recruiter will ever share with you.
This site is intended as a resource for anyone who is considering enlisting in the U.S. armed forces, but also for parents, teachers, community groups, and activists. Please feel free to print and distribute any of the leaflets and info sheets below and to share the websites and videos online.
MYTHS AND REALITIES OF WAR & LIFE IN THE U.S. MILITARY:
Vets Speak: War, Lies, and Life in the Military — This leaflet features interviews with U.S. soldiers and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also includes important stats on the military’s deceitful promises of “free college tuition” and questions to ask yourself before enlisting in the Army, Navy, Marines, or National Guard.
“I’m a veteran of Operation Iraqi Plunder. I think it is important to tell it like it is. I refuse to call it Operation Iraqi Freedom. There was no freedom over there. It was not a war to liberate Iraq. It was a war to make it safe for U.S. business interests. It was a war of aggression and occupation. To call it Operation Iraqi Freedom is an insult to the Iraqi people and it is an insult to humanity.” —Charlie Anderson, US Navy veteran
What Every Girl Should Know About the U.S. Military – Part 1 — A leaflet produced by the War Resisters League and Ya-Ya Network. There are tens of thousands of victims of sexual assault in the U.S. armed forces each year. Most rapes go unreported, and almost none result in the perpetrators being convicted. Many men are also raped—the Veterans Affairs office reported that 37 percent of rape victims in 2010 were men. (Second page below)
What Every Girl Should Know About the U.S. Military – Part 2 — The back side of the leaflet above.
“I joined the service to have the opportunity to go to school and serve my country as a proud American. After being raped while in the military, I could not go to school because of my depression, I lost my marriage, went into debt because I could not go to work, and almost lost my life after my suicide attempt…It was eight years before I was able to say the word that describes what happened to me. I hadn’t even been in the Navy a month. I was so young. I tried to report it. But instead of being taken seriously, I was forced to do push-ups.”
—Maricella Guzman, US Navy veteran
“The Invisible War: New Film Exposes Rape, Sexual Assault Epidemic in U.S. Military,” Democracy Now! January 30, 2012. An important recent report on the epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. armed forces and the culture of impunity created by the willful neglect of the military chain of command and U.S. government.
Interview: Retired Special Forces Master Sgt. Stan Goff Explains What Military Life Really Entails. Sgt. Goff on his time as a Special Forces operative and the missions he was ordered to complete.
“Hell, if you want to get technical about it, I was made to be an American terrorist. I was trained in everything a terrorist is trained to do…[T]hat’s the problem with war—your president, your generals, they send you off to go fight these battles. And all the way down to your commanding officers, they don’t go out there with you. They send you out there to fight and do the crazy shit and do the dirty stuff. You’re the one who has to live with the nightmares from it. You come back, you’re nothing, you know? Guys are living in the streets that fought in Iraq…I had to do things for the wealth of other people…I blame them because they made me do it. You can lie to the world; you can’t lie to a person who’s seen it. They made me have to do things that a man should never have to do, for the purpose of their gain. Not the people’s—their financial gain.”
—Joshua Key, US Army veteran
IMMIGRANTS AND THE U.S. MILITARY:
“Yo Soy el Army: US Military Targets Latinos with Extensive Recruitment Campaign,” Democracy Now! May 18, 2010. How U.S. military recruiters have set their sights on Latino immigrants, promising them citizenship, education, and other grandiose things.
VAMOS UNIDOS Youth Statement on DREAM Act and US Militarism — A Bronx immigrant group’s statement of opposition to the current version of the DREAM Act, arguing that “the DREAM ACT is a de facto military draft, forcing undocumented youth to fight in unjust wars in exchange for the recognition as human beings, a Green Card…We stand against any militarization—whether it is of the border, our communities, or our status. We will not kill innocent people in exchange for Green Cards.”
Immigration and Immigrants in US History — A brief history of immigrants in the United States, including stories of immigrant resistance to military enlistment and U.S. militarism
Inmigracion e inmigrantes en la historia de los Estados Unidos — Version en castellano del documento anterior
ALTERNATIVES TO MILITARY ENLISTMENT:
Alternatives to the Military pamphlet — Leaflet on how to go to college or find a job without joining the U.S. military, specifically for youth in New York state. No matter how bleak your life may seem, there are other options that don’t involve being used as a pawn in somebody else’s war.
Go to College or Work—Not War! — Leaflet with detailed information on college and career opportunities, specifically for NY state. (While many of these leaflets and websites tailor their information to youth in particular states or regions, many of the college, career, and scholarship options they suggest are available elsewhere, too.)
Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities — California-based organization that provides information about alternatives to enlistment in the U.S. military. As they say, “young people don’t have to join the military to learn valuable skills, find adventure, pay for college, or serve others.”
Project Great Futures — Another California organization that offers information on alternatives to military enlistment
VIEWS FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Iraqis and Afghans on the U.S. military occupation of their countries
Iraqi Civilians and Activists on the US Occupation — In the United States we almost never hear the voices of the people most directly affected by the wars our government wages in our name. This leaflet features Iraqi perspectives on the so-called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
No to More War in Afghanistan — This info sheet was designed as a response to President Obama’s decision to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan in 2009, and updated in 2010
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan website — Founded in 1977, RAWA is an inspiring organization of courageous Afghan women who oppose both the Taliban and the fundamentalist warlords backed by the U.S. government. They have been tireless advocates of peace, human rights, and secular democracy—and tireless opponents of the U.S. military occupation of their country—under very dangerous circumstances.
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers website — An organization of Afghan civilian activists struggling for peace, democracy, and an end to the U.S. military occupation of their country
Afghans for Peace website — An organization of Afghans around the world who oppose the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan
WEBSITES WITH ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Iraq Veterans Against the War — IVAW was founded in 2004 to provide a way for U.S. military veterans to speak out against the illegal, immoral wars waged by the U.S. government. See especially the Winter Soldier project begun in 2008, in which dozens of U.S. war veterans and Iraqi and Afghan civilians have shared their testimonies on video.
Courage to Resist — An organization that provides political and financial support to soldiers in the U.S. military who refuse to fight
US Labor Against the War — An organization formed by union activists in early 2003. Since then, USLAW has helped lead the U.S. movement for peace and for a reorientation of government budget priorities away from war and toward the fulfillment of human needs like education, healthcare, and clean energy investment.
War Resisters League — A longstanding advocate of peace and nonviolence, WRL coordinates resistance to payment of war taxes and also offers a range of helpful information for youth, parents, and everyone else
Brooklyn For Peace — A New York peace organization with a range of valuable materials. BFP has a number of committees that work on countering U.S. military recruitment, ending U.S. wars, justice for Palestine and Israel, Latin America, and other topics.
National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth — A valuable website with up-to-date information about the devious tactics of U.S. military recruiters and the ways that communities around the country are fighting back
We Are Not Your Soldiers — A project that brings war veterans into high schools to speak to students about the realities of war and life in the U.S. military. Teachers, parents, and students are encouraged to contact them.