Today at Oakland High, war resister and former Navy sailor Pablo Paredes debated Army recruiter Sgt. Jose Delao about the role of military recruiters in high schools — and the benefits and risks of joining the service.

Do you think it is appropriate for the military to recruit kids while they're still in high school? Are recruiters merely giving them another option, as they say, or are they taking advantage of teenagers unsure of their future (and how to pay for college)?

Reader comments

John: As for comparing what you're promised by a recruiter and what you get in the military, it's a LIE. I'm not referring to the politics of recruiting for the military or the correctness or incorrectness of the military's role in current foreign policy decisions. I'm talking about men in uniform telling LIES to high school kids about what they can expect in the military.

How about the kids who joined with the promise of a signing bonus only to get critically injured, released from the military followed by a letter from the Pentagon demanding that the wounded soldier must return all or a portion of the signing bonus? This inexcusable behavior on the part of the military caused a congressman to initiate legislation that would allow wounded soldiers to keep (or receive) ALL that they had been promised before becoming "unfit" to complete their CONTRACTED period of service BECAUSE THEY WERE WOUNDED!

Ask these used car salesmen in uniform about this, and other promises not kept and insults spit on America's young people by the military of these United States.

Don't give em your life! Give em the finger!

Sue: Ya know — It just kills me to have to agree with John even once.

I'm an Air Force veteran. Everything I have today can be traced back to my enlistment. My recruiter never even tried to lie to me. My aptitude test results showed that I'd be good at computer programming, and my first question was, "What is that?"

Here I am, 26 years after that test, still earning my living doing what the Air Force trained me to do. Uncle Sam also paid for my college. I completed my degree in three years while I was serving on active duty. I had a lot of support and encouragement to "be all I could be" — which was the A.F. recruiting slogan way back then. I even met my husband while we were both enlisted, so the Air Force gets some of the credit for our terrific kids.

For over 20 years I actively encouraged youngsters to consider military service, and told them my success story. But that stopped in 2003. I'm still involved in my employer's veterans' group, and I still support those in uniform like my brother.

But I can't in good conscience suggest that anyone else join and risk their lives for an oil war. There's no need to be rude to anyone, even a military recruiter, but for kids thinking of college and what to do after high school, find another option.

Teacher: There is absolutely no reason I can see why such young people are used to fight wars. I'd raise the volunteer age to 21.

Otherwise, the only fair way is to have a draft and spread the pain out equally among all economic classes.

Let's face it: The people that vote and bankroll politicians are not the same people that provide the cannon fodder in the form of their own children.

Doowhopper: The entire concept of war is archaic and barbaric. We emphasize nonviolence and conflict resolution to our students within the school system and then try to recruit them to commit violence in Iraq. Does anyone else see the paradox of this absurdity?

And the rationalizations given for war are equally baffling. So we "had" to attack a country because they were getting ready to attack us? Well, if that rationale is logical then why is it wrong for a drug dealer to do a drive by shooting in another part of town? All the thugs involved are doing is protecting their hood from those folks who will do them harm first.

We just finished a gun buyback here in Oakland last weekend. How about an INTERNATIONAL gun buyback where we resolve never again to revert to primitive and obsolete ways to solve problems?

Jim2812: As an Air Force veteran who was able to complete college in part by being financed by having volunteered for military duty in the U.S. Air Force and also to have taken advantage of college courses offered on my Air Force base, I agree with Sue that for some students, joining the military has advantages.

And I also agree that I would not recommend students volunteer for the current oil war and oil occupation.

Another point, for students that are Christian and serious about issues of morality, to consider would be the fact that this war and occupation is not a moral war, or occupation, as the U.S. was the aggressor. Although the Pope has made clear that the Iraq war was not a moral war, I am not aware of any other leading Christian church that supports this war and occupation.