We need volunteers for Iraq. You, you, and you.
How sad to see military recruiters so frustrated, like the one in Ohio who told Damien Cave of the New York Times earlier this month, “Parents are the biggest hurdle we face.”
The June 3 Times story noted:
Which is why I have little sympathy for reader Robert V. Walsh Jr.‘s argument, though I thank you, Bob, for reading. I see from your e-mail address that you’re in the military, and I hope you stay safe.
Responding to my May 23 item “Pat Tillman as Prop,” in which I noted that the ex-NFL star’s family was upset about what they called the government’s “disgusting” coverup of his death last spring in Afghanistan, Walsh wrote:
Well, Bob, it’s Pat Tillman‘s family who’s speaking out about this. The press is not using Tillman (left) or his family as a p.r. tool. Steve Coll of the Washington Post was the one who uncovered the coverup of Tillman’s futile death by friendly fire. No reporter has to apologize for reporting how the government treats its dead and live soldiers—or how it dips into the schools to lure them.
Certainly, Pat Tillman’s mom is still upset, and it’s not the press that’s adding to the grief of her having lost a son. In fact, the military is still whitewashing the April 22, 2004, death of her son, and she won’t have any part of it. Robert Scheer of the Los Angeles Times wrote June 14:
That deception has continued with the latest and allegedly definitive government statement. Last week, the Army unconvincingly claimed that the suppression of field reports that Tillman was killed by friendly fire did not amount to an official coverup but was merely the result of confusing regulations that should be changed—”an administrative error,” in the words of Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the head of Army public affairs.
Mary Tillman, however, begs to differ with this convenient conclusion to the investigation. When I met with her on [June 12] near the Northern California suburb where she raised her three sons, she was measured but firm in rejecting the Army’s report and latest statements.
“As far as our family is concerned, the case of Pat’s death is not closed, as the Army suggests,” she told me. “It concerns us that the documents we received state that Gen. [John P.] Abizaid knew on April 28 that Pat was absolutely killed by fratricide. Why were we not told prior to Pat’s memorial service, which was nationally televised on May 3? We weren’t told until five weeks later, and only because the troops that were with Pat came home from Afghanistan and the story was unfolding.”
While the family was kept in the dark, the White House and Pentagon were milking the story of Tillman’s death for all the jingoistic currency it could get. As Scheer wrote:
That Bush has not acknowledged the controversy over Tillman’s death, yet was so quick to invoke Tillman’s heroism in the midst of the Abu Ghraib scandal and on the campaign trail, speaks volumes about how politicians exploit soldiers, both the living and the dead.
Future soldiers and their parents might want to take note of Mary Tillman’s experience. Maybe they already are. Newsday‘s Craig Gordon reported June 11 that the Army missed its enlistment goal in May for the fourth consecutive month. The fact is this: You can’t conquer the world without cannon fodder.
Parents might want to post some “no soliciting” signs. Gordon noted:
The Army also added hundreds of new recruiters and launched an advertising campaign aimed at “influencers,” the mothers, fathers, coaches and others who often have to be sold on military service before a recruit is.
You can expect even more propaganda because resistance has been fierce and growing, according to the Times story:
Several recruiters said they had even been threatened with violence.
“I had one father say if he saw me on his doorstep I better have some protection on me,” said a recruiter in Ohio. “We see a lot of hostility.”