Vigil for Vanessa Guillen

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Friday, July 24, from 5-6pm, we joined together to take part in a conversation on healing and justice for Vanessa Guillen. Vanessa was murdered this year while she was a soldier at Ft. Hood, Texas. She had previously told her family that she had been sexually harassed and assaulted by her commanding sergeant. 

Truth in Recruitment is saddened by the treatment and death of Vanessa Guillen and angry at how the chain of command at Ft. Hood mishandled her disappearance and the requests of her family for information. The Lak’ech club and Truth in Recruitment are sponsors of this event. Monisha Rios, TIR advisory board member and Army veteran, was a speaker. 

Draft Women? Hell No!

A bill introduced to Congress proposes expanding the Selective Service System (SSS), mandatory registration for military conscription (the draft), to women. Supporters of the bill claim that it is a step toward equality, but we believe that the best way to promote gender equality and fairness is to free men from military conscription and end draft registration once and for all. There have been many periods in the past in which there has been no required registration. Extending coercive measures to new groups is not an expression of expanding liberty. Truth in Recruitment has been a part of a growing coalition of peace activists, experienced draft  resisters, antiwar feminists, and draft-age youth, working to oppose this bill.

Please listen to their testimonies on this one-hour webinar, hosted by CodePink, on the history, strategies, and current efforts to resist the draft.

May 15th was International Conscientious Objector Day (ICOD), a time to honor and raise awareness of those who refuse to participate in armed conflict. Kate Connell, director of Truth in Recruitment, was a panelist on an ICOD webinar detailing the current legislation proposals that will either eliminate the Selective Service System or expand it to include women.

Please watch this webinar, sponsored by the Peace Resource Center in San Diego, to learn more information on the Congressional debate.

Take action!

  • Click here to quickly email your Representative and your two Senators to urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 5492, the bill to eliminate the SSS, preserve the ability to be a conscientious objector and remove past penalties on non-registrants.
  • Talk with draft age persons and their families. Most young people are not aware that Congress is considering whether to expand the draft to women. Tell someone.

Truth in Recruitment calls for the Abolition of the Selective Service System

Military Draft Expanded to Women?

Ended by President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Jimmy Carter again made registration with the Selective Service System (SSS) for military draft/conscription mandatory for males/people identified male at birth, ages 18-25. On March 25, 2020, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) recommended that Congress expand SSS registration to women. 

Two bills have been introduced to Congress: H.R. 5492, calls for the elimination of the SSS and of past penalties to young men who did not register, and a second bill, HR 6415, would force young women to register for a military draft, as well as further expand military recruitment and the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC). 

TIR does not believe that mandating women to register for a military draft supports equality for women. We believe that the best way to promote gender equality and fairness is to free men from military conscription and end draft registration for all. 

We plan to host advocacy trainings this year for young people and their allies so that they can tell our elected officials how they want to be of service, but not be coerced into that service.

A bipartisan bill, H.R. 5492, calls for elimination of the SSS, to move beyond forcing young people into military. The main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Peter DeFazio, released this statement on the NCMNPS’s recommendation to expand draft registration to women. He says in part:

“No young person, regardless of gender, should be subject to a military draft or be forced to register for a draft in the United States. The military draft registration system is an unnecessary, wasteful bureaucracy which unconstitutionally violates Americans’ civil liberties and unfairly subjects individuals who fail to register for the draft to unnecessarily severe, lifelong penalties – penalties which disproportionately affect low-income Americans. Adding women to the draft will only double the amount of Americans who are subjected to this arcane practice.”


Summit on Youth and the Military

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
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.

Thank you to 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.

The Second Annual Social Justice Education Conference

Keynote Speaker Ricardo Valencia, Santa Maria High School teacher, on the value of an Ethnic Studies curriculum in public schools.

Last Saturday, May 4th, the Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success hosted the 2nd Annual Social Justice Education Conference at Santa Maria High School. Truth in Recruitment was honored to be part of such an inspiring program. The Conference featured over a dozen organizations which lead public workshops on the necessity of education that focuses on social justice and equity. Truth in Recruitment facilitated a workshop that illustrated the roles race, gender, sexuality, income and education play into military recruitment. While it was great spreading our message to new people, the true power behind the Conference came from the personal connections we made with like-minded members of our community.

Angelica, parent of students at Ernest Righetti High School, giving testimony about her child being targeted by recruiters at a ERHS career day.

We met Jaime Cuello, a fourth grade instructor who had always dreamed of being the ‘fun teacher’ at school. Not only has Jaime met this goal, becoming a teacher that his students adore and respect, but he has exceeded his general duties as an educator. Jaime has made social justice a key component of his classroom, going beyond the required curriculum to teach his students about ethnic histories, social inequality and activism. Jaime’s students gain this knowledge with pride, sharing what they have learned with their fellow students and families.

Interns Doug, UCSB senior and Angel, Pioneer Valley High School alum, faciltate TIR workshop.

The Conference closed with a quote from Assata Shakur that reads, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Dr. Denise Isom lead the group as we repeated the phrase, coming together in solidarity for our various causes. The strength of community building was clear. Truth in Recruitment left the Conference with new allies and knowledge to continue our efforts back home.