Mennonites Against Militarism — a collaboration of Mennonite Central Committee U.S. and Mennonite Church USA — is planning an initiative to counter military recruitment of U.S. youth.
Alternatives to Military Enlistment Network will connect young people with volunteer advisers who can help them find nonmilitary career, service and training opportunities.
Mennonites Against Militarism invites volunteers to complete an online survey at mennoniteusa.org that identifies areas they may engage with AMEN, including administration, web and graphic design, publicity, budgeting, fundraising and guidance/career counseling. Veterans and others who understand war and military recruitment are also encouraged to complete the form.
“This project goes beyond traditional counter-recruitment efforts by working with individual youths to find meaningful opportunities,” said Titus Peachey, retired coordinator of peace education for MCC. “In a highly militarized society, it is a practical way to embody our faith commitment to peace.”
The AMEN initiative will be composed of a website for youth and parents to connect with a career counselor; a network of trained counselors; a database of resources related to scholarships, service-learning opportunities, internships, employment and gap-year experiences; and an outreach program to make families, congregations and church agencies aware of alternative opportunities.
The U.S. Armed Forces needs 150,000 new recruits each year. Graduating high school seniors are the military’s target recruiting demographic. The best predictor of whether a young person will join the armed forces is their familiarity with the military, often through an enlisted family member or proximity to a military base.
Sign-on bonuses and offers of training, education, health benefits and travel provide strong incentives for recruits, especially for those lacking resources.
“At this point, we are testing the viability of this concept and seeking volunteers to get it started,” Peachey said. “Our hope is that AMEN will grow and thrive as a constituent-run initiative to counter these powerful recruitment efforts.”