Mothers and fathers around the country said they were terrified that their children would have to be killed - or kill - in a war that many see as unnecessary and without end.
Around the dinner table, many parents said, they are discouraging their children from serving.
At schools, they are insisting that recruiters be kept away, incensed at the access that they have to adolescents easily dazzled by incentive packages and flashy equipment.
A Department of Defense survey last November, the latest, shows that only 25 percent of parents would recommend military service to their children, down from 42 percent in August 2003.
"Parents," said one recruiter in Ohio who insisted on anonymity because the Army ordered all recruiters not to talk to reporters, "are the biggest hurdle we face."...
Lawrence S. Wittner, a military historian at the State University of New York, Albany, said today's parents also had more power.
"With the draft, there were limited opportunities for avoiding the military, and parents were trapped, reduced to draft counseling or taking their children to Canada," he said. "But with the volunteer armed force, what one gets is more vigorous recruitment and more opportunities to resist."
Some of that opportunity was provoked by the very law that was supposed to make it easier for recruiters to reach students more directly. No Child Left Behind, which was passed by Congress in 2001, requires schools to turn over students' home phone numbers and addresses unless parents opt out. That is often the spark that ignites parental resistance.
Recruiters, in interviews over the past six months, said that opposition can be fierce. Three years ago, perhaps 1 or 2 of 10 parents would hang up immediately on a cold call to a potential recruit's home, said a recruiter in New York who, like most others interviewed, insisted on anonymity to protect his career. "Now," he said, "in the past year or two, people hang up all the time...
Now if we had a government that acted in our interest, the telemarketer's bill would apply to people who want to kill our children to make Bush and his cronies even wealthier.
But seriously- these guys really don't have family values, do they?
The armed forces definitely have a serious problem, and as many liberal bloggers have noted (some veterans, like Kos, unlike the uniformly chickenhawk Repub bloggers) there's got to be give somehow: either on the draft or on the military commitments of the US.
But let's not pretend that we, as a nation, when we send our kids to war, are not ripping asunder families. And all the flags we wave, all the little ribbon decals we affix to cars, won't change the status of those who die or are mutilated.
And above all, let's not assume "the free market" will magically compensate these people who believe in the core of their being they are serving their country - yes, even those who supported Bush.