A different perspective on enlisting

EUGENE, Ore. – A group of Eugene-area residents are setting upshop alongside military recruiters in some local high schools in anattempt to cast an alternate light on enlisting.

“We’re not opposed to military service,” said Carol Van Houten,with the Committee to Counter Military Recruiting. “We just wantyouth to have complete information.”

She said the military might tout money for college and play downthe risks and hardships of military service.

Sgt. 1st Class Larry Kadoun, U.S. Army recruiting stationcommander for Eugene and Springfield, said he had seen thecommittee’s literature and disputed much of what it says.

“I feel that they’re inaccurate,” he said, referringspecifically to the group’s assertions about college money.

Kadoun said recruiters are trained to respond to individuallyexpressed concerns.

“I traditionally tell people that it’s very hard for me toexpress all the pros and cons that I can think of in the Army to aperson,” he said. “Everybody’s concerns and values and outlook oneverything is going to be different.”

It’s been standard practice by most Oregon high schools to allowrecruiters from various branches of the military access tocampus.

Under the Bush administration’s education law, No Child LeftBehind, it is now mandatory. No Child Left Behind also requiresschools to release student directory information to the militaryunless a parent opts out.

During Van Houten’s recent visit, about a half-dozen studentsstopped by the table, mostly out of curiosity. Among them wassenior Jake Goodwin, a varsity football player who doesn’tappreciate military recruiters.

“If I’m interested, I’ll come to them,” said Goodwin.

But freshman Andrew Hastings said he’s interested in joining themilitary and doubts he’d be swayed by either the group’s flyers orthe mounting death toll among soldiers in Iraq.

“If I was in that position, I’d go with what God wanted for me,”he said.

Meanwhile, Army recruiters said numbers have held steadythroughout the war with Iraq until recently. In the fiscal yearending in September 2003, the Army signed up 917 new enlistees ingreater Oregon, spokesperson Gary Stauffer said. Through mid-May,that number stands at 466.