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Countering the recruiters

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A provision in the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act dictates that any high school getting federal tax dollars must provide its students’ names, addresses and phone numbers to military recruiters asking for them. The schools must also give recruiters the same access to its students as generally provided to colleges or prospective employers.

Enter the Detroit-based group Finding Alternatives to Military Enlistment (FAME), which argues that Uncle Sam’s sales pitch is misleading, and wants to bring its counter-recruitment message to a high school near you.

“I think that, once students get both sides of the story, then they could make decisions themselves,” says FAME member Susan Newell, a 51-year-old Detroit nurse.

To help get their message out, group members created a Web site (famedetroit.org) that’s fortified with “military myths,” tips on getting out of delayed enlistment and other counter-recruitment information.

So far, FAME has had little luck getting into area schools. Only one has allowed members to make a presentation.

Volunteer Jennifer Teed, 34, says the lackluster response may be due to the controversial nature of the subject matter. “There just seems to be a lot of fear around this issue,” she says.

Newell, along with members of Veterans for Peace, talked to students at Crosman Alternative High School in the fall. She brought a 10-foot scroll covered with photos of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

“There was something about seeing the faces, the age range: It was young kids, older people, all races, men and women,” she says. “I think it really drove the reality of the war home to them.”

The group also passed out copies of enlistment contracts, and pored over the fine print. “We pointed out some things we thought were troubling about the contracts, asked people to consider what that might mean, that they consider carefully what they’ll be getting into,” Newell explains.

Newell says she’d be happy if FAME could get equal time in schools with military recruiters, “if we could get at least an equal opportunity to get our voices heard.”

FAME meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month, at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church, 4605 Cass Ave., in Detroit.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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