Are You Army Strong?

UNCA SDS members take a stand

UNCA SDS members take a stand

“The military guarantees you a job — and accompanying salary and health benefits — and marketable skills that can be used for a civilian career,” so said U.S. Army Sgt. First Class William West, a recruiter from Asheville quoted in a recent article in the the Asheville Citizen-Times.

With both recruitment rates and the suicide rates of recruiters on the rise, on a short notice from the UNC Asheville chapter of (the new) Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), WRL Asheville joined the GI-Rights/Counter Recruitment demonstration at the military recruiting station in Asheville. The action was in solidarity with a national call for a day of action on April 23 to stop recruitment. Coleman assisted students with a Press Advisory, combining information from their website with material from WRL literature. This brought out a local television crew to film. Six SDS members and we two from WRL Asheville gathered in the late afternoon.

As we arrived, three Army recruiters were outside the office catching a cigarette, they seemed a little surprised and taken aback when we approached them just as an Asheville police officer pulled away. Had the police intercepted our press release? Had they been informed by the media of our intent?

Making connections

Making connections

  “You don’t have to worry. You can stand down, we’re not going to rush your office today,” Coleman told the three camo-clad recruiters. He offered them the literature we carried, including the GI Rights Hotline card and the WRL brochure, “The Military is Not Just a Job…It’s Eight Years of Your Life.”

Disarming them with his affable manner, he continued “I understand you have a tough job, and that the pressure is on you to meet a quota.. I respect you as warriors, but I despise the war.” The Older sergeant who said he had done three tours in Iraq readily accepted the GI rights hot line, nodding when Coleman told him “You don’t always get the whole story when you sign up, and when you get back in the states, support is not always there.”

While we were standing outside, several people came by to sign up or get information from the recruiters. One man arrived in a pick-up truck with his son. As Coleman approached, he responded “I served, and I don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

“No matter what happens with your son in there, there is good information on this card he may need,” Coleman persisted. “Here is a phone number he can call and get straight information from people who have been there and know the services that might be available to GI’s”
He took the card. Once again, it was the GI Rights hotline card that broke the ice.

This particular counter-recruitment demo came on the heels of a successful campus action where students, part of a counter-recruitment rapid deployment force, sat down and surrounded the recruiters table, set up without notice on campus, and completely shut down the operation.

The media coverage on the evening news seemed fair, with a focus on the students who were well spoken and well informed about the issues.

It was a good day of action and solidarity across the generations.

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4 comments so far

  1. allen thomas on

    i’ve just found this site—greetings from e. avl.!! it would seem the movement shouldn’t suffer for participants, but the picture in front of the recruiting shop doesn’t show many people.

    but seeing those guys in their costumes, reminds me of a story—provide yr own moral.

    just after 9/11, i happened to be in our air terminal & where there were at least two, maybe more, lads dressed just like that, w/ m-16’s over their shoulders, strolling caually around the public area. two questions came to mind—one, were the weapons loaded?, and 2) where was the command for these guys–ie, who would yell ‘Lock & load? etc. etc.’

  2. Cicada on

    Good action. It is good to remember that the recruiters themselves may be responsive to information and are not “the enemy”. The enemy is the idea that war and weapons can solve our problems. With information and actions of dynamic compassion we can win hearts and minds in our own country.

    I will be back in Asheville at the end of May. It will be good to see you then.
    Peace,
    Cicada

  3. allen thomas on

    the most recent ABC sunday morning broadcast ended w/ a sobering piece about repairing damaged faces of men who had beeninjured in Iraq.i am readying a letter to the paper about the lessons we should all be learning.

  4. Cpl. Sylvester on

    Come On your really going to bash your neighbors.
    It’s alright, we fight for your freedom to express yourself
    that way.

    Fighting for you
    Cpl. Sylvester


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