With recruiters viewed as a commonplace in high schools, we can’t deny the fact that our public schools are militarized. The normalization of violence and conflict threatens students everywhere in the US. No student should face the risk of falling victim to the dangers of war at school. Now more than ever, our children need an active counter-recruitment movement.
For years, the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) has lead the conversation by uniting more than 80 demilitarization and counter recruitment organizations across the country. Representatives from 8 of these organizations serve on NNOMY’s Steering Committee. As of January 2019, The Resistance Center is pleased to be represented on the Steering Committee.
NNOMY serves as a national networking body that brings together national, regional, and local peace organizations to oppose the growing intrusion of the military in young people’s lives. As the network’s website states, “NNOMY is integral in bringing counter-recruitment and demilitarization groups together to help the nation understand that providing youth with peaceful and viable alternatives to achieve success in life is an important sign of a civilized and democratic society.” NNOMY strategically outlines what individuals, organizations, foundations, and the media can do to limit recruiter access in schools.
Gary Ghiradi, NNOMY’s Communications Director, explains that NNOMY works against “the impact of trillions in military contracting and a permanent war economy.” For as long as the network has been around, it has brought the “experts on the flip side” who actively obfuscate a business that brings “so much destruction and suffering on the planet.” While there are countless issues connected to militarism, Ghiradi elaborates that NNOMY’s involvement with people directly affected is unique:
“The wars are not justifiable for the cost of so many young lives and the suffering caused to innocents. We actually focus on intervening more directly in schools to offer a fuller narrative to what military recruiters use to sell young people to sign up, but those who buy in increasingly come home from combat operations and occupations are increasingly disillusioned and damaged from psychological and physical injuries. NNOMY is kind of a bridge between all the fallout of war: before, during and after, where outrage of the waste of militarism turns into civilian based activism or where military service turns into horrible outrage and activism, as a response to that anger and a method of healing in the case of veteran activists.”
Ghiradi admits, there are not nearly enough people talking about counter recruitment; a simple Google search will tell you that. But with NNOMY, organizations across the country have an accessible platform to pool resources, discuss best practices, and make the militarization of youth part of a larger social justice conversation.
The Resistance Center is leading the conversation on demilitarization and counter recruitment in Western Mass. For years, we have published Military Recruitment in Western Massachusetts–– a report detailing the military’s involvement in our high schools. And we are working on a groundbreaking counter recruitment campaign that will go beyond reporting on militarism, and get the military out of our children’s lives. But we can’t do it alone.
We look forward to being part of the national conversation with NNOMY. We imagine that as our movement grows nationally, it will grow locally. Together, we will continue to fight for a better future. Join us as we build peace in our schools, our communities, and our world.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved in counter recruitment efforts in Western MA.