Tag Archives: Army recruiters

Army Recruiter Suicides Raise Alarm

Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have daily body figures as to how many members of the military were killed or wounded in action, but there is another count of thousands who manifest the wounds of serving in combat. Between 2001– 2008, seventeen Army recruiters committed suicide while attempting to fulfill their responsibilities in getting more civilians to join the armed forces. Most of the seventeen had served in combat positions which suggests they had the mental toughness to confront combat, but something created even more stress while they worked as recruiters. Army Secretary Pete Geren ordered an investigation of the suicides and has now decided to close down all recruiting efforts on February 13 in order to discuss with recruiters their mental health and review procedures.

General Del Turner studied the situation over the past few months and concluded there “are some things that are disturbing” including a poor command structure and low morale due to demands for ever increasing higher rates of success. He also found examples of recruiters being pressured by their superiors to lie about conditions.

Ironically, the economic collapse has solved the problem since now recruiters have too many applicants to serve.

ACLU Wants Equal School Access

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a North Carolina school district which refuses to allow their representatives to speak with students about alternatives to serving in the armed forces. In a sense, they want the right to offer counter-recruiting arguments that would persuade students not to accept ideas given them by recruiters for the armed forces. Sally Ferrell of the North Carolina Peace Action says Wilkes country schools will not allow groups other than those of the armed forces to offer arguments concerning alternatives open to students about their future lives. School Superintendent Stephen Laws argues he does not allow any group to criticize other organizations so it would be a precedent allowing groups like Ameri Corps to present information to students.

I recall a few years ago chatting with two recruiters who were in the vicinity of Brooklyn College. I asked them if they tried persuading Brooklyn College students to join the armed forces. Both broke out in laughter, turned and pointed to Midwood High School. They admitted they pinpointed high schools in poverty areas and stayed away from talking with college students.

The argument of School Superintendent Laws is specious. Recruiters are pitching a well financed proposal- training, money, and free college. Their audience are high school kids whose parents never went to college. It is only proper to allow other voices to be presented to impressionable youth. Let the best argument win.

Why Are Army Recruiters Committing Suicide?

Spc. 1st class Patrick henderson was an Iraq combat veteran who spent the last few months of his life as an Army recruiter which entailed cold calling dozens of people each day in an effort to sign up young men and women to serve in an increasingly unpopular war. If he complained about the 13 hour work days or the difficulties trying to persuade young people to join the armed forces, his superiors snarled back that Sgt. Henderson should be grateful he was in the United States and not serving in Iraq. Less than a year doing the recruiting, the sergeant went into his backyard shed and hung himself. He became at age 35 the fourth member of the Army’s Houston Recruiting Battalion to commit suicide in the past three years. His wife, Sgt. Amanda Henderson commented in despair: “Over there in Iraq, you’re doing this high-intensive job you are recognized for. Then, you come back here and one month you’re a hero, one month later you’re a loser because you didn’t put anyone in.”

There are 38 Army recruiting battalions and only one other surpasses Henderson’s in the number of suicide deaths. His mother said her son never complained but felt his work just sucked and he felt like a complete failure. Paul Rieckhoff, of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said recruiting “is arguably the toughest job in the military” and the recruiters are constantly under great stress.

Sgt. Henderson saw extensive combat during his tour in Iraq and witnessed the death of several friends. However, once back home in the safety of America he was under constant pressure to produce and had to account for every minute of his time and face complaints he had not recruited enough young men and women. Is this the way American treats its brave men and women?