The United States has been at war in Afghanistan since the fall of my second grade year, and in Iraq for half of the years I have been in school. In all that time, and in all of the years that we watched Channel One News in the mornings, we never saw a casket, never heard about the war dead or the loss of limbs, and only heard about veterans one day a year.

That changed last Tuesday.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all been President of the United States during my schooling, and all three have addressed the nation’s students in the first weeks of school. Clips of these addresses were shown on Channel One, or the existence of the speeches was mentioned in news stories. There was never any controversy.

That changed this September.

This August, we were warned that the President was scheduled to speak to students across the nation, and the news media was full of dire predictions of this unprecedented address. We were originally asked to have our parents sign a form saying that we could listen to the fifteen minute national pep rally for paying attention and focusing on our studies, with the option of spending that time in another room. Then the speech was canceled except in U.S. government classes. Our infantile minds were apparently not prepared to absorb such concepts as hard work and setting goals.

image via Fort Hood Sentinel

image via Fort Hood Sentinel

And yet, we were apparently sufficiently mature to watch last week’s memorial service from Fort Hood. Without warning and without parental permission, this solemn service and the words of the President and several reverends were shown school-wide, in class.
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Time magazine had a story this week that asks a great question, but they’ll never find the right answer if they continue to see our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as “wars” and not “occupations”.

Why Are Army Recruiters Killing Themselves?

I’m glad they’re asking the question about military recruiters, and glad people are reading about it, but here’s the part that shows they’ll never find the answer:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now the longest waged by an all-volunteer force in U.S. history. Even as soldiers rotate back into the field for multiple and extended tours, the Army requires a constant supply of new recruits. But the patriotic fervor that led so many to sign up after 9/11 is now eight years past. That leaves recruiters with perhaps the toughest, if not the most dangerous, job in the Army.

The problem is not that we are less patriotic or that no one wants to serve. The problem is that these are occupations and no one wants to continue fighting wars that we won years and years ago.

Last year alone, the number of recruiters who killed themselves was triple the overall Army rate. Like posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, recruiter suicides are a hidden cost of the nation’s wars.

Yes there is a problem here, and yes the recruiters need help, but mostly we need to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even with this economy, poor kids don’t want to go into the military any more. Would you?

It’s time to end the Iraq War and Occupation!

Protesters march to Pentagon, call to end Iraq war

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