At the National Network Opposed to the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) gathering in 2009, youth staffers of the Ya-Ya (Youth Activists-Youth Allies) Network, a youth-led organization based in NYC that focuses on counter-recruitment and other kinds of social justice work, met with reps from WRL New England to talk about what youth organizers need for their counter-military recruitment efforts. The consensus? A “joining the military? 101” leaflet that breaks it all down in a clear way for young folks thinking of joining. From the summer of 2010 through the summer of 2011 the Ya-Ya Network and the WRL national office worked on a leaflet that does just that.
Know Before You Go, ‘Cause There’s No Reset Button breaks down the enlistment contract and life in the military and provides new stats about sexual assault in the military, racial disparities in becoming an officer, and stop-loss. Our leaflet is written to be accessible by everyone and used as a tool for counter-military recruitment organizing in schools and other community places.
On June 28th, WRL and Ya-Ya held a leaflet release event and celebration in NYC. Ya-Ya and WRL gave away free copies of the leaflet to attendees and talked about why we created the leaflet in the first place and what we are hoping for people to get out of it.
Lisa Flores of Ya-Ya said that she wanted to work on this leaflet to improve upon what was already out there for counter-recruiters: “Because, as a youth, the pamphlets that we were giving out [as counter-recruitment literature] were long and not attention-grabbing.” She also said that she hopes that, though our work, we can help people see the “truth in military recruitment.”
“I wanted to serve the youth,” said Ya-Ya staffer Khaleeq Alfred. “We want youth to know all there is to know before joining the military–exactly what you’re getting into. Hopefully, they’ll decide it’s not the right course and we can give them alternatives.”
Ya-Ya staffers Stormy Behlin and Melissa Kissoon then showed a clip from the film For Colored Girls about interpersonal violence that is often triggered by PSTD among service members returning home from U.S.-occupied places and Lisa Flores read a piece by veteran Robynn Murray from a Warrior Writers collection.
Finally, a group of students at NYU, Doree Simon, Dhara Vyas, and Julian Brand, screened a brilliant serious of short films they created for WRL about what it means to join the U.S. military. Check out Doree’s documentary below featuring Duwan Briant with Picture the Homeless and click here to see the other two films that are part of the “Consider This” collection.