Alternatives to Military Service

Soldier's HelmetWhat is the “Alternatives to Military Service” (AMS) program?

For nearly a decade, AFSC has participated in tabling and offering classroom talks to students in local high schools about the alternatives students have to enlisting in the military after graduation. When AFSC goes to a high school through our “Alternatives to Military Service” program, we bring students brochures from colleges and community colleges, youth organizations, lists of labor apprenticeships, and “opt-out” forms. We are the only organization west of Worcester (and possibly in all of the state) that offers a contrast to military recruiters who visit and solicit (largely underage) students.

Why do we visit schools?

AFSC visits schools because, since 2001 and “No Child Left Behind”, high schools have become a site where the U.S. military actively and frequently attempts to recruit children for military service.

Military recruiters are well-funded and offer students dreams of travel, funding for college education, and money. But military recruiters have been found to be lying to students, time and time again. The National Institution of Health even published articles suggesting that recruiters be removed from high schools because they are “disturbingly similar to predatory grooming” . And when it comes down to it, the fundamental truth of military recruitment is that it trains enlistees to kill other people, which stands in stark opposition to the educational mission of public schools.

What High School Students Can Do

  • If you are a high school student who is 18 or older, request that your name not be included if student directory information is to be released to the military. This is your right under the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Learn about your free speech rights at school. Exercise your right to put up posters and distribute literature with alternative views on war, JROTC and military recruiting.
  • Oppose the introduction of high school military training programs like JROTC.
  • Create clubs to educate other students about peace and social justice issues. 
  • When the military is going to be present at your school, ask that community groups with alternative views be invited to give the other side.
  • Learn how a draft would work and what the possible consequences are for registering or not registering for it.
  • If you know someone who has changed her/his mind after enlisting in the military, have her/him contact one of the groups listed at the end of this flier for help.

What Parents Can Do

  • Complain when schools allow the military to use school partnerships to propagandize and recruit students. If members of a military unit, base or ship want to support local education, ask that they donate their services out of uniform and just like any other business or group, without promoting their organization or its special interests. 
  • If you have sons or daughters in high school, request that their names not to be included if student directory information is to be released to the military. This is your legal right under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Campaign to get your school district to require that all parents and students be given a form to use to make this request at the beginning of each school year.
  • Contact a draft counseling group to learn about draft registration and how conscription would work if it were activated in the future.
  • Oppose militaristic programs in middle schools, like the Young Marines, Starbase Atlantis and the Cadet Corps.

What Everyone in the Community Can Do

  • Campaign for your school district to allow military recruiters at school only when representatives will also be present from civilian employers, colleges and universities.
  • Oppose the introduction of military training programs like JROTC in local high schools; propose the termination of existing JROTC units.
  • Help distribute counter-recruitment literature and information to high schools; contact groups that already do this to start one if none exists locally.
  • Support campaigns in Congress to end draft registration.
  • Oppose any further congressional efforts to force schools to drop all restrictions on military recruiter access to campuses and student lists.

If you’re a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor, and would like more information, please fill out below:

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