Commentary: Military provides funds, not just guns

I am in disgust about a recent quote by a Northeastern Student in a Boston Globe article (“Protestors target military recruiters on campus,” Dec. 7). The article covered a protest outside a military recruiting office on Tremont Street.

These demonstrators were protesting against the war in Iraq and the Solomon Amendment. This amendment, named for its original sponsor, U.S. Representative Gerald Solomon, allows the federal government to withhold funds from colleges and universities that ban military recruiters from their campuses.

The educational institution’s reasoning behind refusing to allow recruiters on their campuses is their belief that the military’s infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule for gays and lesbians is discriminatory. I do not completely disagree with these colleges and universities and will accept the ruling of our nation’s highest court on the matter.

I do disagree, however, with how demonstrators take this issue as an opportunity to abuse the military. A Northeastern student was identified and quoted in the article. The Globe cited Richard “Web” Beveridge as saying, “It’s an extension of the anti-war movement. The first battle is to stop recruitment in colleges, then high schools, and basically show them that we will not support the military over education.”

This has no bearing whatsoever on the issue that is the Solomon Amendment. No one is saying, “Military over education.” In fact, one of the military’s best benefits and hardest selling points are the educational benefits received by service men and women. Free education for active duty service people, tuition assistance for reservists and the Montgomery G.I. bill are just a few of the educational benefits one can receive through military service.

I would like to ask Mr. Beveridge, if he is going to “battle” to get recruiters off college campuses and out of high schools, where we are going to get the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen that make up our military. Also, if we are to solve this problem we have in Iraq and work toward avoiding a similar situation in the future, would it not be beneficial to have intelligent, well-educated and well-versed people throughout the military ranks to make sound decisions on such important matters, especially considering these matters are of life and death for some? Unfortunately for me, Mr. Beveridge’s comment was not the end of the aggravation I would encounter reading the Globe’s article. Another Northeastern student, Khury Petersen-Smith, a graduate student, was asked what he thought about recruiters on campus. Referring to how he saw recruiters offering tours of Humvee vehicles and use of a rock-climbing wall, the Globe quoted him saying “They are completely preying on kids. They give this idea that the Army is about climbing rocks or something, but it’s about killing people or possibly getting killed.”

This misconception Mr. Petersen-Smith has of the Army saddens me. The purpose of the Army, and the U.S. military as a whole, is not to kill people, but to defend the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it provides; those very same freedoms which Mr Beveridge, Mr. Petersen-Smith and the other protestors actively use to denounce the U.S. military.

I think John Stuart Mill said it best when he declared, “War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of mind that thinks nothing is worth fighting for is far worse.” Thanks to men and women who have served, are currently serving and will someday serve in our armed forces, we will not have to experience the state of mind where nothing is worth fighting for.

– Zachary Geneseo is a junior criminal justice major in the ROTC.

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