“I am a Vietnam War infantry veteran. In this day and age, Truth in Recruitment (TIR) is creating the opportunity for high school students to reconsider short term career choices that ultimately do not serve them, but instead to help them choose wisely once and for all for the long term. TIR is here to assist students in staying independent and future focused.” — Michael Cervantes, member, Veterans for Peace Ventura County
Truth in Recruitment is a non-profit, student advocacy group based in Santa Barbara, California. We work with students, families, and schools to ensure students understand the consequences of a military career and their alternative options for academic and professional success, to inform parents of their privacy rights, and to create school policies limiting recruiter presence on campuses.
We began in 2011 when Santa Barbara High School students spoke out against the prevalence of recruiters as guest speakers in classes and their casual presence on campus. In 2014, as a culmination of our two-year campaign, the Santa Barbara School Board passed a district policy regulating recruiter access to students. The policy includes these guidelines:
- Recruiters are limited to 2 visits a year
- No solicitation of student contact information directly from students.
- No simulated weapons displays.
- A requirement that an opt out form barring release of student directory information be distributed.
- No disruption of normal school activities such as recruiting during classtime.
Since this victory, we have begun a countywide effort to organize public forums on the issue, to monitor recruiter presence on campuses, to table with alternative information to military careers, and work with school communities to draft and implement their own recruiter policies.
We table at schools and career fairs, sponsor a teen cemetery display of youth killed in action, speak to classes and student clubs, sponsor art contests, and facilitate conversations through workshops with youth about nonmilitary options for service, job training, and financing college. Truth in Recruitment encourages students to take ownership of peace issues and the meaning of citizenship — to voice their perspective on recruiters and militarism.
On December 14, 2016, along with the Santa Barbara High School Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Associated Student Body and members of Veterans for Peace Santa Barbara, we set up a display of the True Costs of War, tombstones representing the more than 400 18 and 19 year olds killed in action in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.