"We get them before they can think"
Here is an old army recruiting joke: A college recruiter and an army recruiter met at a high school career day. They had information booths side-by-side, and both men were very busy talking to prospective students. However, as time went on, it appeared that more students were interested in what the army recruiter had to say. This frustrated the college recruiter .
At some point, the college recruiter asked the army sergeant, "Why would anyone want to join the army. You could get killed, anyone with a brain knows that?"
The army recruiter just laughed and said, "That's why we recruit them before they can think .
When I signed up to join the army in the fall of 1988, the Cold War seemed increasingly passé. I explained my reason for joining to many of my friends, and that my military contract allowed me to go to Germany and I would receive high tech training and money for college. My friends usually laughed and said I was a sucker for volunteering for the service. I tried to my best to convince others it was a good deal and that they should join with me; however, the typical response was something like, "I don't like taking orders, so the military is not a career for me". Others were more interested in what college had to offer, especially the party life, getting high in the dorms, and the opportunity to move away from parents. While I didn't disagree about having some fun, I simply did not have the desire to continue higher education and felt the army could be a place to build a career, experience and independence while getting paid. I wouldn't be disappointed.
My recruiter liked my enthusiasm and asked if I would hand out his business cards to other prospective recruits. "Put your name on the back of the cards, and if your referrals join, I'll see that you get promoted before basic training", he told me. I did just that, and eventually a few high-school referrals joined closer to graduation day. The army awarded me a promotion and an Army Achievement Medal the day I left for basic training. The Army was so happy that I was sworn in separately at the LA MEPS station by a colonel with my parents in attendance. It felt a little funny to wear the medal on a t-shirt, but my recruiter told me to stand proud and "wear it with pride, you earned it. Don't take it off until your get to your basic training unit at Ft. Sill."
July 6, 1989 LA-MEPS. Just received the Army Achievement Medal for recruiting other high-school students and having been sworn-in minutes earlier .
Ft. Sill O.K.
July 7th-14th, 1989
Upon my arrival at the reception Battalion in the wee hours of the morning, I was instantly challenged regarding my medal by a very angry drill sergeant. "Oh look at this, I don't believe my eyes!" he exclaimed while charging towards me. He got right in my face, the brow of his smoky the bear hat touching my forehead and yelled, "Is that what you earned for your participation in the fuck-your-buddy program? You better have some orders for that medal private!"
All of the recruits stood at attention quietly outside our temporary barracks as the early morning turned to day. The only activity was watching a few billowy white clouds hanging lazily above the vast empty plains. The broiling humidity created salt sweat rings around the armpits of every recruit's t-shirt. After a while, a cadre corporal came and marched us off for our first meal.
The corporal gave a short speech about in processing at the reception station. He told us what to expect for the next two weeks, as well as some other trivial things like the "mess hall" is now referred to a "dining facility", etc. I guess the "new army" was trying to distance itself from the past. The combination of ammonia-scented cleaner and production of vast quantities of