Veterans speak out against Prop V and JROTC

WHEN: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - 11:00 am
WHERE: War Memorial and Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Ave., SF

WHO: John Caldera, SF Veterans Affairs Commissioner, American Legion, Commander Post 315
Eddie Falcon, Vice-President, SF Iraq Vets Against the War, Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan
Stephen Funk, President, SF Iraq Vets Against the War, gay Marine who refused orders to Iraq
Michael Job, gay Viet Nam combat veteran, US Army, retired SFUSD teacher
George Johnson, Viet Nam combat vet, US Navy, Veterans for Peace
Forrest Schmidt, ANSWER Coalition, Army National Guard
Michael Wong, US Army, Veterans for Peace and Asian Americans for Peace and Justice

“Veterans know what the military experience is really all about," says Michael Wong of Veterans for Peace. “The purpose of JROTC is the exploitation of children by adults to feed our wars for oil and conquest. Targeting youth under 18 for military recruitment is a violation of international law for good reason.”

“I support ROTC in college, but I do NOT support JROTC in the high schools,” says SF Veterans Affairs Commissioner John Caldera. “We do not allow 14 year old boys and girls to buy cigarettes, drink alcohol, drive cars or to engage in sex acts with anyone over the age of 18 without violating federal laws, so why would we support the exposure of our impressionable youth to Policy Memorandum 50 of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command that clearly demonstrates JROTC is a recruiting program?”

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen said, “JROTC is one of the best recruiting tools we have.” Military recruiters are lying to our children to enlist them. Promises of education, college, job skills, duty stations and a host of other rewards are offered and often cannot be delivered. “The ‘leadership’ skills JROTC teaches are only the Army’s model of blind obedience to authority,” says Michael Wong. “This might prepare them for jobs flipping hamburgers, but not for professional jobs in a high tech, fast paced environment where you have to think for yourself – on your feet, out of the box – and intelligently adjust to constantly changing situations.”

“It’s your children we are militarizing with JROTC! The Department of Defense says the enlistment rate for students taking JROTC is 43%,” says Michael Job, Viet Nam veteran and retired SFUSD teacher. “We need to take responsibility if even one of the 43% should die in another illegal war – the blood of that one young life is on all of our hands, not to mention whom he/she might have killed in the process. There is no need to offer children up to the altar of our Armed Forces. This is not love, knowledge, or wisdom.”

Viet Nam veteran George Johnson says, “I’m proud to have voted for the 2003 Veterans for Peace resolution opposing JROTC, which concludes: ’Finally as mature and seasoned Veterans and citizens who have both experienced the horrors and futility of war, we understand the importance and role of high quality education to maintain both a Republic and Democracy. JROTC and military recruiters in public schools are the antithesis and profoundly undermine what is good and great about the United States of America.’”

“The school board made the right decision, to eliminate a homophobic military recruitment program. I strongly urge people to vote NO on V to support the school board’s courageous and moral stand,” said Stephen Funk, President, Iraq Veterans Against the War, San Francisco.

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