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Thread: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

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    CELEBRATION TIME RBA's Avatar
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    When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/paynte...paynter08.html

    When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Wednesday, June 8, 2005

    By SUSAN PAYNTER
    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLUMNIST


    For mom Marcia Cobb and her teenage son Axel, the white letters USMC on their caller ID soon spelled, "Don't answer the phone!"

    Marine recruiters began a relentless barrage of calls to Axel as soon as the mellow, compliant Sedro-Woolley High School grad had cut his 17th birthday cake. And soon it was nearly impossible to get the seekers of a few good men off the line.

    With early and late calls ringing in their ears, Marcia tried using call blocking. And that's when she learned her first hard lesson. You can't block calls from the government, her server said. So, after pleas to "Please stop calling" went unanswered, the family's "do not answer" order ensued.

    But warnings and liquid crystal lettering can fade. So, two weeks ago when Marcia was cooking dinner Axel goofed and answered the call. And, faster than you can say "semper fi," an odyssey kicked into action that illustrates just how desperate some of the recruiters we've read about really are to fill severely sagging quotas.

    Let what we learned serve as a warning to other moms, dads and teens, the Cobbs now say. Even if your kids actually may want to join the military, if they hope to do it on their own terms, after a deep breath and due consideration, repeat these words after them: "No," "Not now" and "Back off!"

    "I've been trained to be pretty friendly. I guess you might even say I'm kind of passive," Axel told me last week, just after his mother and older sister had tracked him to a Seattle testing center and sprung him on a ruse.

    The next step of Axel's misadventure came when he heard about a cool "chin-ups" contest in Bellingham, where the prize was a free Xbox. The now 18-year-old Skagit Valley Community College student dragged his tail feathers home uncharacteristically late that night. And, in the morning, Marcia learned the Marines had hosted the event and "then had him out all night, drilling him to join."

    A single mom with a meager income, Marcia raised her kids on the farm where, until recently, she grew salad greens for restaurants.

    Axel's father, a Marine Corps vet who served in Vietnam, died when Axel was 4.

    Clearly the recruiters knew all that and more.

    "You don't want to be a burden to your mom," they told him. "Be a man." "Make your father proud." Never mind that, because of his own experience in the service, Marcia says enlistment for his son is the last thing Axel's dad would have wanted.

    The next weekend, when Marcia went to Seattle for the Folklife Festival and Axel was home alone, two recruiters showed up at the door.

    Axel repeated the family mantra, but he was feeling frazzled and worn down by then. The sergeant was friendly but, at the same time, aggressively insistent. This time, when Axel said, "Not interested," the sarge turned surly, snapping, "You're making a big (bleeping) mistake!"

    Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.

    "They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going all the way to Seattle," Axel said.

    Just a few tests. And so many free opportunities, the recruiters told him.

    He could pursue his love of chemistry. He could serve anywhere he chose and leave any time he wanted on an "apathy discharge" if he didn't like it. And he wouldn't have to go to Iraq if he didn't want to.

    At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told. "Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."

    By then Marcia had "freaked out."

    She went to the Burlington recruiting center where the door was open but no one was home. So she grabbed all the cards and numbers she could find, including the address of the Seattle-area testing center.

    Then, with her grown daughter in tow, she high-tailed it south, frantically phoning Axel whose cell phone had been confiscated "so he wouldn't be distracted during tests."

    Axel's grandfather was in the hospital dying, she told the people at the desk. He needed to come home right away. She would have said just about anything.

    But, even after being told her son would be brought right out, her daughter spied him being taken down a separate hall and into another room. So she dashed down the hall and grabbed him by the arm.

    "They were telling me I needed to 'be a man' and stand up to my family," Axel said.

    What he needed, it turned out, was a lawyer.

    Five minutes and $250 after an attorney called the recruiters, Axel's signed papers and his cell phone were in the mail.

    My request to speak with the sergeant who recruited Axel and with the Burlington office about recruitment procedures went unanswered.

    And so should your phone, Marcia Cobb advised. Take your own sweet time. Keep your own counsel. And, if you see USMC on caller ID, remember what answering the call could mean.

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    CELEBRATION TIME RBA's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    My son is almost 12. Time to head to the school office and tell them not to release his private information to these sharks. If he wants to join, he'll do it on his and my terms.

    If anybody doesn't know, recruiters have access to your kids records from their schools by law. Schools cannot keep them from them unless you personnally sign a paper saying not to release it to them.

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    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Is that story really true?

    It's incredible!

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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Can anyone younger than 17-years-old sign without their parents signature or permission? If not, then there is no reason to have concern. If you are 18-years-old and sign on the dotted line, then you have made a decision as an adult... like casting a vote in an election.

    If this story is true (as told), then kidnapping charges should be pursued by the local police officials. No doubt about it.

    I will not read one story like this and use it to label the Marine Corps or any other military branch. I will wait to hear the whole story and both sides before passing any judgment. I am sure that these recruiters are taught to use a strong approach. They, in essence, are salespeople.

    If they would not stop calling my house, then I would file harrassment charges with the local police. Government or not... they are not allowed to cross a certain line.

    I am sure there is more to this story than what I read in the article. Perhaps Axel was not capable of flatout telling them NO b/c he was too docile. Perhaps his interest was peaked by the recruiters with their stories. The same sort of approach most (and a lot of successful) salespeople use to sell their product.

    There are "bad apples" in all facets of life and in most businesses. This (these) recruiter(s) might have been a bad apple(s). If so, I hope corrective action is taken by their superiors.
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    If the story is true, the recruiters should be busted.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBloodedAmerican
    My son is almost 12. Time to head to the school office and tell them not to release his private information to these sharks. If he wants to join, he'll do it on his and my terms.

    If anybody doesn't know, recruiters have access to your kids records from their schools by law. Schools cannot keep them from them unless you personnally sign a paper saying not to release it to them.
    What's doubly sad about their methods, is that they pursue kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and kids with bad grades much more enthusiastically than kids from well-to-do backgrounds and kids who perform well in school. Many of my friends got the "hustle" treatment from these recruiters while in high school, but because I had good grades, I was called only once.

    While I understand that's "business" and they're much more likely to get a poor kid or a kid with bad grades to sign on the dotted line, it's no less a classist paradigm and a real black eye on the military's attitudes toward its citizenry. But when you have guys like Cheney, Bush, and Clinton (draft dodgers) setting the example, what can you expect?

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    Member SirFelixCat's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Unless you are 18, your parents have to sign a waiver. I enlisted in the Delayed Entry Plan after my junior year and my mom had to sign on the dotted line.

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    Designated Threadkiller LincolnparkRed's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    I still remember my call, I was 17 and had just had ACL surgery that week. So when the recruiter asked me what my plans where for Friday night, I said that I was going to be laying in bed playing video games. He asked why and I said well with the 2 screws they just put in my leg I am not allowed to walk around much. He said oh, and then said well I guess I can't offer you anything (my surgery disqualifies me from the Army as well) and hung up. Never heard from them again.
    Climbing down from the bridge, but keeping the torch lit until Dusty's fate is settled

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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Quote Originally Posted by LincolnparkRed
    I still remember my call, I was 17 and had just had ACL surgery that week. So when the recruiter asked me what my plans where for Friday night, I said that I was going to be laying in bed playing video games. He asked why and I said well with the 2 screws they just put in my leg I am not allowed to walk around much. He said oh, and then said well I guess I can't offer you anything (my surgery disqualifies me from the Army as well) and hung up. Never heard from them again.

    I still get calls from time to time. The conversation goes something like this:

    Recruiter: Paint, would you like to go any college you want at little or no cost to you? Serve with us for four years and we'll pay for your college.

    Me: So let me get this straight. I can sign up, serve my four years and then go to school for free and be done by the time I'm 27. Or I can continue going to school for free now and be done at 23.

    Recruiter: Yeah, I see your point. Thanks for your time.
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    I had marine recruiters breathing down my neck in high school, calling my house sometimes 7-8 times a day from the time I got home from school until 11:00 at night. Finally I told them that I was gay and couldn't serve. This was during the Clinton don't ask don't tell popularity phase. My dad heard me say this and got mad at me, because I'm not gay, and he thought it would go on some kind of permanent record. Regardless, I never heard from the Marines again. Now, the Air Force, that's a different story. I'm 28 now and they're still trying to get me.
    This is the Cal Ripkin Jr. of typos.

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call

    Never had much problem with recruiters myself. Now one of my fraternity brothers, who was a bit naive, once met a very attractive girl at a bar who just happened to be a recruiter for the Marines. He fell pretty hard for her, and after two weeks of dating, she had him convinced that if he loved her, he could enlist in the Marines and they would let them stay together. The next thing you know, he's at Parris Island, writing to tell us that he's miserable and that his "girlfriend" dumped him over the phone the day after he arrived. I think they eventually let him out before his commitment was up, but only after Gulf War I was over.


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