Summer 2014 Update


In response to the appeal letter that was mailed in January, our friends & supporters contributed a total of $1075.00 to support our student outreach and other organizing efforts. We are most appreciative of the generous support which comes each year to sustain this important work.

In addition, The Military & Draft Counseling Project received a grant of $800.00 from the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign Escrow Fund in April to support the Equal Access project in Portland Schools.

Student Outreach and Education

We completed 30 equal access visits to Portland High Schools during the 2013-14 school year, visiting each high school 3 times when military recruiter were also present. The military had difficulty, at times, following the school district guidelines for equal access; and we are currently in negotiations with school officials and military representatives to strengthen the rules for school visits.

We also gave 13 classroom presentations arranged with sympathetic teachers when military recruiters were not present. These are typically panel presentations involving Iraq War (and older) veterans and other local activists. We also distributed nearly 8,000 counter-recruiting fliers directly to students from the public sidewalks in front of local high schools during the fall and spring.

In August/September, we will be participating in the annual Opt-Out Campaign, distributing fliers to educate students and parents about their legal right to refuse to allow students’ personal contact information to be released to military recruiters, as otherwise prescribed by federal law. This effort is coordinated by Recruiter Watch PDX.

Protesting Militarism at the Rose Festival

On Sat. June 7th, about a dozen activists from WRL Portland, Veterans for Peace, Chapter 72, Peace and Justice Works, and others held signs and banners at the downtown seawall. This was our annual protest of militarism at the Rose Festival in the form of the military fleet of warships and military recruiting booths scattered among the other booths and carnival rides. As usual, we generated a mixed response and had some interesting conversations with passers-by.

Does War Have a Future?

National officials certainly assume that war has a future. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditures totaled nearly $1.75 trillion in 2013. Although this is a slight decrease over the preceding year, many countries increased their military spending significantly, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, 23 countries doubled their military spending between 2004 and 2013. None, of course, came anywhere near to matching the military spending of the United States, which, at $640 billion, accounted for 37 percent of 2013’s global military expenditures. Furthermore, all the current nuclear weapons nations are currently “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.  

Nevertheless, there are some reasons why war might actually be on the way out.

Destructiveness and Cost

Over the past century, conventional wars (including two world wars) have slaughtered over a hundred million people, crippling, blinding, or starving many more, and laid waste to large portions of the globe. When the U.S. spends [at least] 55% of its annual budget on the military, it is almost inevitable that its education, health care, housing, parks & recreation, and infrastructure will suffer.

Peace Movements

Peace organizations began to emerge in the early 19th century…. These organizations became a very noticeable and, at times, powerful force in the 20th century and beyond. Drawing upon prominent figures like Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell…peace groups created a major social movement that government officials could not entirely ignore.

Nonviolent Resistance

It was not only utilized in dramatic campaigns led by Gandhi and MLK, Jr., but in mass movements that, subsequently, have challenged and toppled governments. Indeed, nonviolent resistance has become a new and powerful tool for people to draw upon in conflicts without slaughtering one another.

Alternatives to Mass Violence

Why not expand international exchange and peace studies programs? Why not dispatch teams of social workers, mediators and negotiators to conflict zones to work out settlements? Why not provide food, employment, education and hospitals to poverty-stricken people? Why not help build a more equitable, prosperous world?

Summer Update

Report on Counter-Recruiting Activity:

       As I reported to the Portland School Board in May, we are, overall, pleased with the implementation of the new Equal Access policy during this current school year.  Our volunteers staffed information tables 24 times this year—2 or 3 times at each of the PPS high schools.  Military recruiters from the different Armed Forces branches were present during each of those visits and, to my knowledge, not recruiting students at other times.
     To start things off, school district administrators sent a memo to high school principals last August recommending that each school schedule three visits per year, inviting both military recruiters and counter-recruiters to participate.  Not all visits went smoothly, as high school staff sometimes struggled to make the arrangements fair and equitable for all; but we have seen improvements in communication and the structure of the visits as the year has progressed.
     Military recruiters were obviously disturbed by the new arrangements for equal access and began pushing against the rules and reasonable decorum during school visits.  They did so by sending twice as many uniformed recruiters as was needed to staff their tables, they passed out expensive gifts and prizes to students that were well above the $5.00 limit imposed by the school district, and they tried to engage students who had not signed up to speak with them and had no interest in military enlistment.  The Marine recruiters even brought their chinning bar to a couple of school visits, and we responded by filing a complaint with district administrators.
     Equal access is still a “work in progress” and may never be truly equal.  Nonetheless, it allows us to monitor military recruiter activity and provide students with the balance of information and perspective that they deserve.  As students figure out who we are and what we have to offer, our effectiveness is bound to increase.
     Besides equal access visits, our volunteers also distributed basic counter-recruitment information to students from public sidewalks in front of the high schools, we gave a dozen panel presentations (with local veterans) in high school classrooms, and we purchased ads in high school newspapers throughout the Portland metro area.  With additional volunteers and increased funding, we could expand our counter-recruitment organizing to other schools and communities beyond Portland Public Schools.  Help us get there.                                             

Shooting Ranges in High Schools:

     There are now approximately 3,400 secondary schools in the U.S. with units of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a military training and recruiting program open to students as young as age 14.  Founded in 1916, it is operated jointly by the host schools and individual military branches.  Instructors are retired military officers employed by the local school district.  Over half a million students are enrolled in the program and attend daily classes that teach them military customs and demeanor.  They are assigned ranks, are required to wear uniforms at least once a week, learn to march, and study history, civics and other subjects from Pentagon-supplied textbooks.
     Marksmanship training is an optional component of JROTC and is used as a magnet to boost student enrollment in the program.  The Civilian Marksmanship Program, which promotes youth involvement with guns and collaborates with JROTC, has stated that at least two-thirds of all JROTC units include marksmanship training.  If true, this means that marksmanship training exists in over 2,200 U.S. high schools.
     The issue became a major focus of debate in the San Diego Unified School District in 2007, when teachers and students discovered plans to install new JROTC shooting ranges at two high schools.  This plan would bring the total number of shooting ranges in San Diego schools to 11 out of its 13 schools.  These facts provoked an intense campaign of protest that is unusual for such a location as San Diego, which hosts one of the largest military complexes in the world.
     The coalition’s campaign lasted 14 months.  Despite the military’s dominant influence in the city and the NRA’s involvement, the campaign succeeded in all of its goals, including a 3 to 2 vote by the school board to ban marksmanship training throughout the school district.
[Excerpts from an article by Rick Jahnkow - Project YANO, San Diego, CA]
Note: There are 5 JROTC programs in Oregon, the closest being at Reynolds H.S. (in Troutdale), Oregon City H.S. and North Salem H.S.  We do not yet know if these programs include shooting ranges.

In response to our January fundraising letter, the Military & Draft Counseling Project raised a total of $965.00 for Equal Access and other counter-recruitment organizing.  Thank you!


6/8/2013 - Rose Festival anti-militarism protest

The 6/8/2013 protest of militarism at the Rose Festival was a success!  Thank you to everyone who showed up.  It was a beautiful day to be out and we got a lot of positive responses from Rose Festival attendees who supported our message.  Here are a few pictures from the event.


Photos by Gregory Sotir

Counter-Recruitment at the Rose Festival

Militarism at the Rose Festival?
There are military recruiting booths at CityFair and a few military ships docked at the seawall. (The U.S. Navy is busy elsewhere this year.)
Join us at the Salmon Street Springs Fountain - in Waterfront Park at Salmon St. and across from the Marines recruiting booth
Saturday, June 8th - 1:30 to 3:30pm

Repeal the "War on Terror"

The leading excuse for current U.S. wars, drone strikes, kill lists, renditions, imprisonments without trial, spying without warrants, the militarization of police, and gargantuan weapons budgets is the legal and rhetorical idea that the United States is involved in a war unbounded by time or space.

While it took 6 years to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that was used to justify war in Southeast Asia, after more than 11 years the Authorization for Use of Military Force -- the congressional resolution that launched the "war on terror" -- has not been repealed.

Click here to tell Congress enough is enough!

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who cast the only vote against the AUMF in 2001, has introduced a bill to repeal it.

H.R.198 would repeal the AUMF for two reasons: because Congress is Constitutionally bound to decide matters of war and cannot legally hand off that responsibility to its executive, and because Congresswoman Lee's somber predictions, when she stood alone against this madness and was subsequently obliged to hire security protection, have been proved right: the Authorization has been used and abused to an ever greater extent as an aggrandizement of executive power and a justification for the erosion of our civil liberties.

Please ask your Representative to co-sponsor and your Senators to do the same by clicking here.  You can also view a short video of Rep. Lee's prescient and powerful remarks in 2001.

H.R.198: Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force

Dear Friends and Supporters

Dear Friends and Supporters,
Military recruiters are having no trouble these days signing up new recruits to meet their enlistment quotas. Because of the lousy economy and the shortage of decent jobs, some recruiting stations actually maintain waiting lists. It is especially important, in these times, to counter militarism and warmongering with a message of peace and viable alternatives to military enlistment.
The Military & Draft Counseling Project has been busy this year implementing Portland Public School’s new equal access policy. Recruiters from all branches of the Armed Forces are now limited to no more than three school visits per year and are, for the most part, meeting with students by appointment only. And counter-recruiting activists are being granted equal time to respond to the military’s sales pitch and to discuss the realities of war and combat. Of equal importance, we are presenting students with timely information about non-military careers and education / training opportunities, including “green jobs” and volunteer programs.
Equal Access is working for the benefit of students, and many school counselors seem to be genuinely relieved that pushy military recruiters now spend far less time on PPS school campuses. Our job is to take full advantage of the new policy by making sure that we have prepared volunteers available for equal access visits, along with printed materials that are accurate, convincing, and appealing to high school students.
If you wish to contribute to our success: (1) consider volunteering for equal access visits to local high schools, or (2) make a financial contribution to support this important work. This is the only funding appeal that you will receive from us in 2013, so please make it count.
Make your checks payable to the Military & Draft Counseling Project and send to 2000 NE 42nd Ave., Suite 224, Portland, Oregon 97213. $100____ $75____ $50_____ $25____ Other____.
We will do our best to put your contribution to good use—advocating for local students and spreading the message that militarism and war only lead us to a dead end.
In peace,
John Grueschow, Coordinator
“Get involved. The world is run by those of us who show up.”

Fall Opt-Out campaign report back from Roosevelt High School

The fall "Opt-Out" campaign is in full swing and we have a report-back from how it went at Roosevelt High School this past week.  For those who don't know about the opt-out campaign, here is some brief background.  The No Child Left Behind Act requires high schools to share student information with military recruiters. However, there is a provision where students and parents can opt-out of sharing this private information by filling out a form and submitting it to the school.  The opt-out campaign is an effort to educate students and their parents about this information sharing and to provide them with the necessary form.

DAY ONE, SHIFT ONE, OF OPT-OUT CAMPAIGN, 9/13/2012: Roosevelt High School. Two volunteers can usually be kept steadily busy, but not frantically so, engaging youth about Opt-Out at Roosevelt. Roosevelt is one of PPS' smaller high schools and still operates under the small school model with three academies. Roosevelt is a high school with a very diverse student population in the St. John's neighborhood. It is an at-risk high school.  Roosevelt students, for the most part, are very polite. Families and staff at Roosevelt tend to be supportive. There were a lot of "terrifics" and thumbs-up from adults who asked what we were doing. Because the student population is financially-stressed, this is a school whose students are very vulnerable to the "poverty draft."

Two stories that show how rewarding the work can be:

1. There was a group of six young men heading towards school (probably juniors and seniors). Forms in hand, I started to talk to them while walking alongside them and they were half-listening. (It's 7:30 in the morning.) One of the young men was more than half-listening, because when I got to the part of, "If you DON'T want your personal information released to the military," he interrupted, "I've been looking for that form!" His peers then stopped in their tracks and said, "What form? To do what?" All six youth took a form, which they will hopefully be completing and handing in to the school secretary by October 1. One youth, already familiar with Opt-Out forms from previous Recruiter Watch (and allies) campaigns, convinced his peers that the form was something they should be interested in.

2. There was a group of five young men chatting across the street from the high school. I approached them with forms in hand. One youth took the form. One said he did not care. One youth said he was enlisting. Volunteers also have on hand the AFSC's "Questions to Ask Military Recruiters -- and the Answers They Should Give You.' I told the youth that if he was considering enlisting, here are some questions he should probably think about to make an informed decision. He was willing to take the "Questions." Then he started to play 17-questions with his peers, using the questions to ask military recruiters. They were trying to see whether they already knew the answers and were somewhat dismayed to find out how many they were getting wrong! One youth, considering joining the military, wound up educating his peers about the fine-print of the military enlistment contract!

War Tax Resistance Workshop

War Tax Resistance Workshop
Tired of paying for war with your federal income taxes?
Come to a workshop on war tax resistance, and get your questions answered.
We are both a support group and an action organization.
(See "Events" section for details.)


Equal access implementation meeting

Are you interested in meeting with students at local high schools (one-to-one or in small groups) to provide them with info about alternatives to military enlistment?  Or staffing a literature table?
We are meeting Sunday, July 22 - 6:30 to 8pm - to discuss equal access implementation for the fall.  We could really use your help.  Call 503-238-0605 for the location of the meeting.
(Mentoring and training is available for those unfamiliar with counter-recruitment work.)


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