Laid Off, Signed Up, Shipped Out


Dear Justice newspaper,

I am writing to inform you of a military draft that is occurring as you read this – the unemployment draft. This draft is a draft of the poor, the youth, and those with low prospects for the future. With unemployment climbing and tuition and school fees increasing, many find themselves in desperate situations with no way to escape, except the military or crime.

My best friend, who has been jobless since November, has been able to find no other resort than the army. He is not a political man, but he understands as well as anyone how the Bush administration lied to go to war with Iraq, and how U.S. involvement in the Middle East is tied to oil and the greed associated with it. My friend has traded years of his life away from friends and family and endangers himself to grievous risk in order to have a hope of a decent life.

The military’s promises of job training and character strengthening are very appealing. Combined with the promises of money for college and/or a pension, these appeals make this choice seem easy to make. What is too often left unspoken are the horrors of war, post-traumatic stress disorder, bodily injury, the poor health coverage and care provided for veterans, the high suicide rate of veterans, and the over 4,800 U.S. troops who have been killed so far in Iraq and Afghanistan, all to defend the interests of the big oil and defense corporations and the banksters who run our government.

My friend’s hopes are the same as mine and indeed the same as the typical American dream: a family, a house, and a good-paying job with lots of free time. These hopes have been exploited, and as the recession continues many more will have to consider sacrificing themselves thanks to the unemployment draft. We need job programs, an end to both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a serious discussion about the exploitation of our hopes for imperial power and greed.

-Albert Simmons
Tacoma, WA