Humboldt County, California voters passed measures F and J last November prohibiting military recruiters from initiating contact with minors. Now the Obama administration is demanding that the law be overturned. A court hearing is scheduled for June 9 in Oakland, California. The measures which passed by a large margin allow recruitment to occur if the minor initiates contact. Federal government lawyers claim “irreparable harm” if the laws stand.
The cities of Eureka and Arcata cite international treaties which prohibit recruitment of children under 17. If the Cities prevail over the Obama administration in court, the legislation could likely be brought before voters in communities across the nation. Enforcement of the laws is on hold pending the court action.
The author of the legislation, Dave Meserve described the ordinances prior to their passage last fall:
These ordinances will protect youth from the intense pressure to enlist exerted by military recruiters. While recruiters may deny that they pressure teens to sign up, many local students and their parents have had to deal with repeated, persistent phone calls and personal contact efforts, even after asking to be left alone. Recruiters target teens at school, at home, at community events, and in public places.
Recruiters are rewarded for meeting enlistment quotas and risk reassignment if quotas are not met. They are trained sales people, referring to our communities as “market areas,” our kids as “prospects,” and a successful enlistment as “closing the sale.” They target teens by glorifying military service and focusing on the high-tech, sexy, action-packed military jobs that few recruits ever experience. Rarely do they mention the horrific truth of modern warfare: Soldiers thrown into battle situations where they must kill or be killed, 18 percent returning from Iraq with traumatic brain injuries, and 20 percent with diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder.