By Emily Baker
Killeen Daily Herald
A group of protesters gathered around Killeen's military recruiting stations on Tuesday hope young people who join the military are not suckered into service.
"We want anyone who joins the military to know there are consequences," said Geoffrey Millard, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Millard, who was in the Army and National Guard for eight years, said he didn't understand his options when he joined at age 17 and hopes others don't join without knowing theirs.
Protesters handed out fliers and brochures about discrimination based on the race, gender and sexual orientation they say occurs in the military; information about job training and benefits, such as money for college, they say the military is not honest about; and alternatives to military service, such as finding a civilian job, earning vocational certificates, the Peace Corps and community volunteer organizations.
Tuesday's demonstration was organized out of Camp Casey in Crawford, where Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen 1st Cavalry Division soldier Spc. Casey Sheehan, has been protesting the war in Iraq.
Millard, who is from Buffalo, N.Y., said the group of about 15 was not there "in opposition to recruiters" but rather to provide information they say recruiters do not provide.
"Some recruiters lie," said Millard, who served a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq from 2004-05 with the 24th Infantry Division. "I don't blame the recruiters. They have a quota to fill."
Recruiters remained inside their stations during the afternoon protest. Any recruiter who lies to an applicant can be held accountable through the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said Kimberly Levine, spokeswoman for the Army's Dallas Recruiting Battalion, under which the Killeen station falls.
"Recruiters are held to a very high standard," Levine said. "Misinformation doesn't do anything for our recruiters. Not only is (lying) going against regulation and the Army's values, it's going to affect them negatively in the sense that not only is this information going to be revealed to the applicant line by line with the guidance counselor, another goal of the Army is to retain its soldiers and take care of its soldiers."
Each applicant is guaranteed his/her job, bonuses and pay in a written contract that is explained to him/her line-by-line by a guidance counselor at the Military Entrance and Processing Station, Levine said.
The fliers passed out by the protesters advise recruits to have an objective civilian explain the contract to them.
Once military recruits enter service, they still are not given correct information, Millard said. The group held signs and passed out information about the G.I. Rights hotline, which contains information about how to get out of the military and legal rights military personnel have, such as protection from discrimination, and rights military personnel do not have, such as calling "high government officials names, including fascist,' thief,' murderer,' tyrant,' fool' or gangster.'"
While free legal advice is available to all active-duty personnel and their dependents and retirees through the Judge Advocate General, Millard said the advice given by JAG is designed to benefit the military and that some junior enlisted personnel might be intimidated to talk to JAG attorneys, all of whom are officers.
Some protesters wanted to tell potential recruits that they believe the war was based on bad intelligence.
Ray McGovern, who was a Soviet specialist in the CIA, spent two years as an Army officer in the Vietnam era, though he did not deploy to Vietnam. He said citizens warned President Bush he had faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The Killeen station, which is the Dallas battalion's highest producer, has recruited 300 soldiers this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2005, Levine said. The station has recruited 180 percent of its goal.
For more information about the G.I. Rights hotline, call 1-800-394-9544. For more information about joining the Army, call the Killeen recruiting station at 690-8554.
Contact Emily Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org