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21 Oct, 2010 22:51

US military misleading new recruits

The US military is considered to be one of the best and brightest in the world, but the way in which US forces are recruited, is a story that often goes untold.

RT took a look at the fate of three veterans who were all persuaded by professional recruiters to enlist in the US armed forces.

Twenty-four year old Iraq War veteran Jason Ehrhart was critically injured and is now completely dependent on his family to take care of him. Jason’s father, Mike Estes, explained, “We’ve reached a point where Jason’s comfortable where he’s at and doesn’t know what he’s missing. There are parts of his brain that don’t let Jason see reality as we would see it.

But Vallerie Sellick sees reality all too clearly these days, as she was forced to bury her son, 20 year old Lance Corporal Kevin Michael Corenelius after he was killed in Afghanistan. Just like Jason, Kevin was recruited in high school.

Vallerie, who refused to be interviewed on camera due to the sensitivity of the matter, told RT that Kevin was “nabbed” by a recruiter in high school who was persistent and determined to get him to join the Marines.

Iraq War veteran and winter soldier Jesse Hamilton’s story is unique, but it began pretty much the same way, through recruitment.

Jesse told RT, “I specifically remember, I had gone to McDonald’s and I had gotten lunch. I was sitting outside finishing up my soda and a recruiter had came up to me and he was in his dress uniform and he was Special forces so they wore the green beret and I remember being so intimidated and so impressed with that image, it was at that point that I knew I was going to join the military. It was that night I think he was over my house and I was signing the paperwork.”

As for Jason, his parents told us, “They had pretty heavy recruiting in high school where the army recruiter would come into the school and that we were turned off obviously as parents. It’s ok to consider something like that but it shouldn’t be forced on you quite like it was.”

The Pentagon denies that its programs force anything on anyone.

In September of 2008, the government opened the Army Experience Center, a one-of-a-kind 14,500-square-foot virtual videogame-laden facility at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia. Counter-recruitment activists were outraged as they said the center was misleading young teenagers into thinking war was a game.

Protestors Bill Deckhart and Cathy Leary worked tirelessly to spread the truth about the center: “First of all there was the dishonesty that nowhere did it say it was a recruiting center and it was a recruiting center. There’s a boy about thirteen years old said this place really teaches me what war is like. So how can you not go out and protest the army experience center?

“I don’t agree with their marketing strategy and their target audience. I don’t believe that promoting violence should be the way the army should be recruiting. They’ve taken out all the horrors of combat. They’ve taken out the heat, the sand, the sweat, the blood, the flies, the death, the flesh, the bombs, the explosions, the not being able to hear, the panic, and they’ve taken all of the bad things out and they’ve made it fun,” said Hamilton.

The facility closed this past summer, ahead of its two year contract.