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
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.

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.