(Host) With war on the horizon, Uncle Sam is looking for a few good men and women – especially those with technical training or a college degree. The military has targeted college students in its recruitment drives. But recruiters say it’s not related to the military build-up for a possible war against Iraq.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) The armed services want well trained and well educated recruits. So they’re calling college students to see if they’re interesting in joining the military.
Bonnie Duncan of Hyde Park is the mother of a 21-year-old who recently attended the Community College of Vermont. She answered the phone recently when a recruiter tried to reach her son. Duncan didn’t like the recruitment pitch.
(Duncan) “My first reaction was that, to my mind, that meant that Bush’s commitment to this war was probably a done deal. When they’re scraping the barrel for college students, that they were really banging the drums and seeing if they could troll and catch anybody in the net who might be willing to join. And the second was: hey that’s my kid!”
(Dillon) But the military says they’re not scraping the barrel in their drive to sign up college students. On the contrary, says National Guard Master Sergeant Larry Simmons, college students are ideal candidates for military service.
(Simmons) “We’re looking for people who are either, they’re college bound, they’re in college. They’re looking for a way to finance their education. You know, those sharp college students are the kinds of folks we want in the National Guard, so obviously we’re going to go to where those people are.”
(Dillon) The military is allowed by federal law to obtain student names and other personal information from colleges. That authority was recently expanded to include public high schools. Joyce Judy is dean of students at Community College of Vermont.
(Judy) “Recruiters get access by a law that was passed called the Solomon Amendment that requires colleges and universities to release directory information to the military recruiters. So when a military recruiter calls the Community College of Vermont, all these requests are referred to our registrar’s office. And the registrar releases the required information.”
(Dillon) Judy says the student also has the right not to have the information released to anybody. She says the school does not get many requests from military recruiters.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.