While accusations of a “poverty draft” may be exaggerated, the military’s willingness to lower its educational and aptitude standards causes concern that an all-volunteer force may not provide the best possible security. The targeting of economically disadvantaged communities bolsters the arguments of anti-war activists who contend that it is unjust for the poor to fight wars for the rich.
"Financial incentives continue to be a driving force behind enlistment in the military. Recruiters often try to entice young recruits with the promise of assistance for college tuition, skills training that could foster a lucrative career, and competitive military salaries. "
Military recruiters in Ender's Game targetted students they felt were fit and had the ability that they wanted. However, the reason they knew was because they regularly watched and saw how good he could be.
"To leave everything here, and go to a place that was very hard, with no Valentine, no Mom and Dad."
Often times military recruiters target low-income areas due to the monetary benefits that come with it.
Critics of these practices, however, argue that these campaigns pressure certain communities to accept the responsibility and sacrifice of national defense.
"The military often tailors its methods when recruiting from different communities, including launching advertising campaigns that appeal to different demographics. These targeted campaigns rely on market research to maximize their impact.... Because research has indicated that enlistment bonuses and the Army College Fund have been effective in recruiting African Americans, the ad would likely mention such incentives."
Efforts to regulate the presence of recruiters invariably produce strong opposition. The military and veterans’ groups claim that such sensible reforms are “anti-military” and undermine the ability to recruit new service members.
Military recruiters maintain recruitment centers but also regularly visit high schools, colleges, job fairs, shopping malls, and public events to find new applicants. The military has launched recruitment campaigns through billboards, television, radio, and social media. One of the challenges facing the US military in the twenty-first century is finding enough people to meet each branch’s recruitment quotas who are both willing to enlist and fit to serve.
The military has had success using financial incentives to attract new applicants, but recruiters have been criticized for misleading recruits about the likelihood that they will receive these benefits. For many people with limited career options, military service can provide opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.
There’s another reason to be alarmed about the largely unregulated presence of military recruiters in education settings. Research shows that teenagers are at a stage in their development when they are impulsive, apt to engage in risky behavior, and uniquely susceptible to persuasion. Hence, a number of participants in our study framed their opposition to school military recruiting as a form of child advocacy.
But advocates, parents, and teachers who wish to protect students should not be intimidated. This is not about being for, or against, the military. It is about ensuring that high schools do not become de facto recruiting stations, and that all young people have equal access to educational opportunities.