The U.S. Military is so desperate to fill in the blanks that dead soldiers have left, that they are threatening to send high school students to jail if they dare to choose college over boot camp.
The recruiter from the Greenspoint Recruiting Station in Houston was suspended last week after a recording of his threats aired on a local CBS affiliate, KHOU. The recruiter, Sergeant Glenn Marquette, warned 18-year-old Irving Gonzalez that he would be sent to jail if he decided to go to college instead of joining the military, even though Gonzalez had signed a non-binding contract that left him free to change his mind before basic training.
The U.S. Military is in high schools, advertising in Latino media (fyi- we try to block all U.S. military ads), and standing in subway stations in Latino neighborhoods, all with the goal of luring young people into their ranks with promises of scholarships, money, career advancement, and even legal status. There is no mention of the facts that overwhelmingly it is people of color being sent to the frontlines in wars and coming home not to glory, but far to often coming home dead.
Last year, Irving Gonzalez and Eric Martinez signed up for the non-binding delayed enlistment program in high school. But earlier this summer, when 17-year-old Eric Martinez told his recruiters he had decided to go to college instead of the military, his mother was told Eric had no choice and could face jail time if he resisted joining. Irving Gonzalez helped get Eric out of enlistment hours before he was to be shipped out of Houston for training. He knew he was next in line. He decided to record his next conversation with his recruiters. This is a part of what Sergeant Marquette told Irving Gonzalez in that recorded conversation.
Irving Gonzalez: The main thing is, I want out. I don’t want to be in it. I don’t want to go to the Army.
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: Well, you need to talk to my company commander.
Irving Gonzalez: To your company commander?
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: Mm-hmm. You need to come in here, and I need to bring you to my company commander.
Irving Gonzalez: But is there a way out? Is there a way for me to get out, because I don’t want to go in there if you are just going to like…
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: No, there is not a way out. You signed a binding contract.
Irving Gonzalez: There’s no way out?
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: No. When you sign a contract…
Irving Gonzalez: But I’d probably be able to get scholarships.
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: You need a full ride scholarship, full ride, to a state university — UT, AM. Full ride. That means everything is paid for — classes, books, you know, lodging, you know, breakfast, lunch and dinner — all paid for, not no partial scholarship, not no FAA scholarship, not no First Citizen Bank scholarship. No, we’re talking full ride scholarship, because there ain’t no partial scholarship out there that even comes close to what the Army’s giving you for college. It’s forty-plus thousand dollars.
Irving Gonzalez: Yeah, I know, but, I mean, it’s kind of like a family thing, too. I’d rather just stay here. What if I just don’t show up?
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: Then, guess what. You’re AWOL, absent without leave, punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 86: Deserter. It’s in your contract. Read it. It’s clear as day. So then, guess what happens.
Irving Gonzalez: What’s that?
Sgt. Glenn Marquette: Guess what happens to you, I’ll tell you what happens to you, OK? This is what will happen. You want to go to school? You will not get no loans, because all college loans are federal and government loans. So you’ll be black-marked from that. As soon as you get pulled over for a speeding ticket or anything with the law, they’re gonna see that you’re a deserter. Then they’re going to apprehend you, take you to jail. They’re going to call up the military police, the nearest military installation, and they will come down there, correctional officers, 31-series in the Army, pick you up, detain you, put you on a plane and take you to Fort [inaudible], Missouri, where you will do your time, as you deserve. So guess what. All that lovey-dovey “I want to go to college” and all this? Guess what. You just threw it out the window, because you just screwed your life. There’s a right way to do things, and there’s a wrong way to do things.
Read the entire conversation and an interview with Gonzalez at AlterNet.