What are we doing?

August 12, 2007

During this past week, as another family prepared to bury their son, my morning paper announced that the Army is now offering enlistees a $20,000 “Quick Ship” bonus. It appears that not as many young men find service as appealing these days, so enlistment numbers have decreased. That is until now.

Here is how it works according to this article:

Under the “quick-ship” program, a new recruit can be on the ground, in a combat situation in as little as three to four months, depending on what additional training is required for a soldier’s particular job specialization. Normally, the timeline is longer, as recruits are given up to a year from the date of signing their military contract to report to basic training. It covers recruits who enlist for at least two years of active duty and report quickly to basic training.

I also read that:

  • tours of duty are now extended to 15 months, the longest since WWII
  • many troops are on their second or third tour
  • deaths in April and May are among the highest to date

In Indiana:

  • there were 1,925 recruits in 2003 increasing yearly to 2,775 in 2006
  • so far there are 2,223 recruits in 2007
  • at more than 12,000 troops, Indiana has the fourth largest National Guard in the U.S. (1. Texas 2. California 3. Pennsylvania)
  • the number of recruiters has more than doubled to 170 statewide

This editorial in Thursday’s local paper called the bonus “distasteful” stating that “it amounts to little more than bribing people to risk their lives in an ill-advised war.” In the same piece, Gary School Board member Alex Wheeler was quoted as saying “With all the money they’re waving around, the kids are thinking of the cash, not the possibility of getting killed or wounded.”

As a side note: Did you know that No Child Left Behind, Section 9528 requires that school districts release the names, addresses and telephone numbers of juniors and seniors to military recruiters upon request unless an Opt-Out form is signed and returned to the school?

Meanwhile, War Czar Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in this interview that when considering the toll of the Iraq war on our armed forces from a military standpoint, a return to a draft should be part of the discussion.

Today, this article talks about a new program to help soldiers and their families identify mild brain damage and post traumatic stress syndrome. It goes on to say:

“At no time in our military history have soldiers or Marines been required to serve on the front line in any war for a period of 6-7 months, let alone a year, without a significant break in order to recover from the physical, psychological, and emotional demands that ensue from combat,” and as a result some “will suffer lifelong mental injuries”. AND here it is again…”Previously, the draft had guaranteed commanders had replacements for those who had spent considerable time in combat.”


When I read the first article about the $20,000 bonus I was angry. Enticing young men and women, who may not see themselves as having much opportunity, with a large sum of money just does not seem right. In peaceful times enlistment appears to be a valid option, but these are not peaceful times. Considering the extended length of deployment, the chances of survival, and the acknowledged mental distress of those that do come home, the phrase “Russian Roulette” comes to mind. But that is the chance that you take when you enlist. Right? Will we give them the tools they need to improve their chances of a safe return? If and when medical or psychological help is needed, will we be there for them?

On the other hand, if they choose to don the fatigues and take up arms, a $20,000 bonus seems like a pittance.

The recruiters neared harassment when my children, now 28 and 31, were nearing enlistment age. I can’t even imagine what its like now with the quotas they are trying to meet. In one of the articles I read, they talked about being good “closers”. Like selling a house or a car. The whole thing just makes my stomach hurt.

Now we get around to reviving the draft. Why does that keep coming up over and over again? Do you remember the draft? I do. Those were not peaceful times either. The last lottery was held in February of 1972, my junior year in high school with the draft ending in July of 1973.

As long as the number of recruitments can sustain the armed forces we will not require a draft?

Where are we going with this?

Can we stop this ball from rolling?

Wouldn’t it be much better just to bring them home?


19 Responses to “What are we doing?”

  1. […] House Contact the Webmaster Link to Article iraq What are we doing? » Posted at Back in the Day on Sunday, August 12, 2007 […]

  2. Carol Says:

    Oh man… SO much better just to bring them home!!


  3. Cazzie Says:

    Yes, bring them home 😦

  4. debi Says:

    This makes me afraid. Yes I remember the draft. I remember the funerals of 3 very young guys , 2 shot and 1 blown up. I remember the war on the evening news. A fill in pastor gave the sermon today. He decided to read us a fwd he was sent. It had to do with why we need to stay in the war. If we don’t do it, who will, he asked. Being an air force town most everyone thinks it’s the all american thing to do. I don’t go to church to be told we need to send our children off to war. This makes me think twice about the latest complaints in my life. Hell yes, bring them all home!

  5. corky Says:

    Absolutely sickening! Bring home the troops already.

  6. Nessa Says:

    There has got to be a better way.

  7. dilling Says:

    They are also loosening the restrictions on taking high school dropouts. I think they didn’t take so many before because they didn’t “have ” to but now are going to be accepting them with open arms.
    It’s getting scary.

  8. daddy d Says:

    The sad thing is that we may not know what we are doing. It is time to figure it out.

  9. Hazel Says:

    A friend’s Marine son did 3 tours in Iraq. After the 2nd tour he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (after being ambushed & watching 6 of his buddies including his commanding officer killed & also watching a bullet ricochet around inside of his humvee, to name just a couple of his experiences) but was sent back a third time becasue, well, they ALL have PTS, if they were in the Baghdad or Ramadi regions.

    He’s out now…but not really, ya know? It’ll be with him forever.

  10. Diesel Says:

    I think an 18 year old can make up his own mind whether $20,000 is worth being shot at. If it gets a few more kids to sign up, that at least reduces the possibility of a draft. Certainly not an ideal situation, but I’d rather that they take volunteers and give them $20,000 than draft people and give them nothing.

  11. her indoors Says:

    too right, get them home where they belong

  12. Big John Says:

    I’m with you on the last point.

    BTW British deaths are now proportionally higher in Afghanistan than American deaths were in Vietnam. One death for every 36 British soldiers in Afghanistan. One death for every 46 American soldiers in Vietnam.

    It can only get worse with more American and British lads coming home covered with a flag.

  13. Ginnie Says:

    The whole thing makes me sick. Just throw some more money at the situation and it will be all solved !!
    Bush has put us so far behind that it will take years, if ever, to get us back to a good standing in the world. I hate it.

  14. mjd Says:

    Well put, bring the soldiers home. Forget the mechanisms to build an army to fight a war that cannot be won.

  15. Cazzie Says:

    Back again…I am still saddened by all of this…and I want our men and women home too.

  16. Gretchen Says:

    I get so angry when I read about these things. What good will that bonus do, except help pay for a funeral?

    Military recruiters should not be given access to our children until they are legal. If they can’t buy a beer until they are 21, they shouldn’t be sent to a hell hole where there is a good chance they will be killed long before they can have that same beer.

  17. Great comments on this post. I agree we need to get our young men and women home. I haven’t heard an explanation of why we need to stay in Iraq that actually makes sense to me.

  18. Susan Says:

    I hate this whole situation…I really do.

    I was just filling out the paperwork for the high school. I came across the “opt-out” form. A note from the district highly recommended we don’t fill it out as it is opting out of so much more than military.

    These kids need to come home…

  19. It seems like all educated people in both US and UK want the troops brought home. Soon, I hope, soon.

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