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Science Careers Blog

June 24, 2008

A Complaint about Our Veterans Feature, from a Former Columnist

Dear editor,

It rather broke my heart to see such a rosy picture painted for the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. If someone were considering joining the military now, he or she would be thinking that it could be setting them up for educational benefits and job training. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Up to 30% of Army recruits now don’t even have a high school diploma.

Many thousands -- hundreds of thousands -- have head injuries and PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].

Most do not use their educational benefits.

They are not trained to do anything useful; there is little that is transferable to civilian life. Even police departments find that the military training makes people often unable to think independently. Many Iraq and Afghanistan vets are taking their place with the homeless.

It was not honest to not go into the reasons that President Bush says he will veto the bill giving increased G.I. educational benefits: The administration is worried that people will not reenlist because they might want to go to school. Recruiters prowl the halls of high schools and junior colleges, looking for youth doing badly in school. 

Of course, some people do well. But that doesn’t mean that most people will, which these articles imply.

There is little good about going into the military these days. Please don’t be part of telling these young people that all will be well. AAAS has taken many proactive political stances in its time- and it is way past time now.

Sincerely,
Kathy Barker, Ph.D.
kbarker@systemsbiology.org

Kathy Barker is the author of "At the Helm, a Laboratory Navigator, which I reviewed for Science. Kathy also wrote a column for several months that was published on Science's Next Wave.

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