On October 12 in the Santa Maria Public Library, I was the emcee for Truth in Recruitment’s Summit on Youth and the Military. We had different panelists talking about the Selective Service System, their experiences in the US Army, as well as members of the Unified U.S. Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana. We started off by having an equity walk led by Santa Maria High School (SMHS) student Jenny. While she was doing the activity, I noticed how students and adults saw more military recruiters than seeing different colleges in high schools. This made me realize that nothing has CHANGED since adults went to high school! Recruiters are mainly recruiting students that are low income because students are scared, they can’t go to college because of money.  I go to SMHS and we are mainly low income and the lowest school cohort that has passed the A-G requirement than Pioneer Valley (PVHS) and Ernest Righetti High Schools. Military recruiters inform us about the “good” in the military.

Cover of the Summit’s Program Guide
Contents of the Summit’s Program Guide

Monisha Rios talked about what her experience of Military Sexual Trauma in the US Army. We all heard what she saw while she was there. She was talking about what can truly happen to kids and women in the US Army. Monisha impacted a lot of parents and students because they realized what she lived through and saw, that she’s not the only one! Edward Hasbrouck talked about the Selective Service System (SSS), mandatory conscription for military. He talked about students registering for the SSS when they apply for Federal Student college financial aid via the FAFSA without knowing it and that even undocumented men are required to register. Edward provided a frequently asked question sheet, for the first time available in both English and Spanish. Zander, a PVHS alumnus, talked about how their experience with the military in high school. Zander informed us that they were surprised when they saw military recruiters at their college San Francisco State.

Group photo of TIR staff, volunteers and cosponsors

The Summit helped me understand the importance of youth having a voice and to not be afraid to speak up about the problems we see in the community. This event impacted me by showing me that there are more alternatives for youth than going to the military. The speakers told us what really happens in the military. I would like the community to support youth and families by speaking up, going to board meetings, and school/parent meetings like Cafecitos. Truth in Recruitment works to inform the community on what is happening around the schools. We need youth to not be scared to speak up, go to marches, meetings and events.

Alicia, SMHS student, Emcee at the Summit on Youth and the Military

This event was cosponsored by Future Leaders of America, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, Importa, House of Pride and Equality, US Unified Deported Veterans Support House, SB CAN, the McCune Foundation, the Fund for Santa Barbara and the Veterans for Peace Santa Barbara Chapter.

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