Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Military Recruiters Dilemma

military We hold an annual event for 300-400 juniors and seniors to look at opportunities for after graduating high school. This is a big “transition” event for our students who are getting special education services. Yet, even though they receive these services, most of them will earn a high school diploma and many will go on to college. Some are very interested in going into the military. We really would like military recruiters to be there but last year they wouldn’t come and I was told that they were told not to be there. So, this year I thought I could contact commanding officers and hopefully persuade them to allow the recruiters to attend.

When I called the Navy recruiter here in Greenville, SC, I had a terrible experience. When I requested the commanding officer’s name, the phone call was passed to Officer Dobbs. Officer Dobbs kept asking me how he could help me and his voice kept rising. I tried to tell him that all I wanted was the commanding officer’s name and then was going to ask how I could contact this person but he refused to tell me. I couldn’t understand what I did that caused him to yell at me. When I asked him if he would give me this person’s name, he loudly stated that he would not. When I hesitated and told him that I guess I could find this information from someone else, he said fine and hung up on me.

I really didn’t want a big fuss about this but now this really concerns me. As a citizen and a taxpayer I am shocked and appalled that I was treated this way. I didn’t know that asking this information was classified information and it concerns me that there isn’t any accountability or a chain of command for recruiters. What does a person do if there is a problem with a recruiter or the office? My husband was in the navy years ago and was always told to give the name of the commanding officer is asked and he was even shocked at how I was treated. I worry about recommending students to consider the military as an option if this is how an average citizen is treated.

What started out as a simple request (or maybe it just seemed like it was to me) has turned into an issue that really concerns me.

Since this has happened, I have emailed lots of people in the military when I could find an email address. I even went so far as to comment on the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff’s facebook page. I was given the contact info of an office in Raleigh, NC but when I called, I was told that most everyone was on the road traveling for the week so I will give it a try this week. I was also contacted by someone in Atlanta that actually gave me a name of someone in Raleigh to call which was helpful.

I was told by one person that due to homeland security issues that is why I was not told the commanding officer’s name. How in the world does asking for someone’s boss become a security issue? It kind of makes me feel like we live in a Nazi state instead of a democracy. If there is no chain of command that I can go through, then they are basically tell me that if I don’t like something, too bad. Yet, they are willing to take my tax money to pay for whatever they want. I can’t imagine someone walking into my classroom and stating that I can’t tell them the name of my principal, or superintendent of education because it would make the school unsafe!

The thing that worries me most is that this was just the Navy that I contacted. I am dreading the thought of still having to contact the Army, Air Force, Marines, and National Guard! Then part of me really resents the fact that I am dreading this because our military should be something that we are proud of. I should not have to be afraid of contacting them. What message is the military sending out?

In the future, I am going to try to get my whole request in before the officer I talk to feels threatened in any way. But I feel it is important to contact someone in command instead of just talking to the lowest man on the totem pole or I will end up with the same results as last year and not have any recruiters at our event. If you have any suggestions or names of people that I could call, please feel free to give me your suggestions.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'First Phasers' by: Randy Robertson


Melafwife said...

It' s called the chain of command and let's not forget these soldiers DIE every day for our freedom.
With so many deployments (lots of soldiers deploy for 365 days) military life is stressful and the personnel is strechted to the max.

Your tax dollars can never replace a lost life, but hopefully will help the wives and children now without a father.

Just my humble free opinion from this military wife.

loonyhiker said...

@Melafwife Please don't get me wrong. I truly appreciate dearly all that the military does for me. My father and husband both served in the military. That is exactly why I want to give our students a chance to meet with recruiters and see it as an option. I also think there needs to be a chain of command and I was not allowed to go up the chain of command when I had a problem.

William Gripentrog said...

With the threat of homegrown terrorism, I find it natural that the person would not give the name of the commanding officer. You don't need it. Send you request to the commanding officer and be professional. Did you relay your concerns to officer Dobbs or insist on talking to the commanding officer? Officer Dobbs may have been happy to help if you would have just asked.

You ran into one person who was having a bad day. You don't know the background of this person or their standing orders. To use a term like "Nazi state" demeans the rest of your post.

loonyhiker said...

@William I hear what you are saying but I still don't see how finding out who the commanding officer is a threat to national security. But if it was, this officer could have nicely explained the situation to me and said he would like to help me but he couldn't. This officer was so rude to me from the start (and there is no excuse for rudeness) that I did not even feel like trying to talk to him would accomplish anything. I was very soft spoken and very professional during our conversation. Unfortunately this officer was not the same. I think there needs to be accountability and I should be able to contact someone in charge if there is a problem. We lose more and more of our rights every day and I feel that is what happened when Hitler took over. I just don't want us to make the same mistakes again. I feel I have a right to speak up and complain going up the chain of command if necessary. Thanks for your comments and reading my blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you had such a horrible experience with the Navy! As an AF wife it horrifies me. Asking for a commanding officer is not a threat to national security, especially in a recruiting center. To connect with your local recruiters, often the best bet is to just stop by the recruiting station (usually in a mall or strip mall). They should be more than happy to talk, especially since youre doing them a favor by giving them the opportunity to get their numbers. If you continue to have troubles with the recruiters in your area contact the local base's chaplin and explain the situation. They will know who to talk to and will often do some pushing for you. Good luck!

loonyhiker said...

@Anonymous What a great idea! Thank you so much for the suggestion. I'm sure a chaplain would probably know the right way to phrase the request so I don't offend anyone again. I appreciate your comment and thanks for reading my blog!