Jobs Awaiting

September 19, 2010

One nefarious up-tick of a shit-bad economy is an increase in cannon fodder.

The New York Times reported in January 2009: “When the economy slackens and unemployment rises and jobs become more scarce in civilian society, recruiting is less challenging,” said Curtis Gilroy, the director of accession policy for the Department of Defense.

And a piece a couple of weeks ago in the Dallas Morning News on what’s now a recruiter’s dream:

For the first time, the four largest branches of the service — the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — are far exceeding their recruiting goals.
About 99 percent of enlistees have a high school diploma, and scores on the military entrance exam are the highest in the history of the all-volunteer force.
Those numbers are important, recruiters say, because enlistees with book smarts and discipline are usually easier to train.
“We know that unemployment is stubbornly high, around 9.5 percent, and that’s high by historical standards,” said Curtis Gilroy, the Defense Department’s director of recruiting.
“When jobs are scarce in the civilian sector, the military is relatively attractive as a post-high school option for young people.”

The US at high, unwavering unemployment, now at 9.6 percent (in reality about 17.5 percent), the military offers job opportunities if one is so inclined.

However, there’s some problems with the job.
If an IED don’t get you, a dose of Seroquel just might — drug use to way up for the armed services in efforts to fight PTSD or just plain war-weary battle fatigue.
The use of psychiatric medications is up a staggering 42 percent as troops are popping the pills to stay semi-sober.

Antidepressants were the most commonly prescribed medication, but the use of anti-psychotic meds — like Seroquel, which is used off-label to treat nightmares and insomnia caused by PTSD — nearly doubled.
And the use of anti-anxiety drugs, like Xanax, surged by 72 percent.
The numbers are startling, but it’s hardly surprising that prescription drugs have become the Pentagon’s solution of choice, when they’re essentially the only option.
With both wars lagging on for years, and troops being redeployed despite psychiatric problems, the military’s fast-tracked efforts at more effective alternatives can’t keep up.

All war all the time — i.e., The Long War — has turned the US military into a hellish organization.
An Army report from last summer described itself as one broken, messed-up outfit.
A McClatchy piece last week focused on Lt. Col. Dave Wilson’s battalion of the 4th Brigade of the 1st Armored Division:

Nearly 70 soldiers in his 1,163-member battalion had tested positive for drugs: methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
Others were abusing prescription drugs.
Troops were passing around a tape of a female lieutenant having sex with five soldiers from the unit.
Seven soldiers in the brigade died from drug overdoses and traffic accidents when they returned to Fort Bliss, near El Paso, after their first deployment.
“The inmates were running the prison,” Wilson said.

McClatchy noted the mammoth problems facing the Army overall:

The result, the Army found, is that “drug and alcohol abuse is a significant health problem in the Army.” Where the Army once rigidly enforced rules on drug use, it got sloppy in the rush to get soldiers ready for the battlefield, commanders say.
Officers who once trained soldiers on everything from drug abuse to financial planning had only enough time to get their troops ready for battle.

“I think we’ve got to understand that the force we have today is different from the force we had 10 years ago,” said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, who oversaw the study and is heading up the Army’s response to it.
“We’ve got kids that are going to have some behavioral health issues.
The real hard part for us is to determine, ‘OK, I am willing to help this kid with behavioral health issues, but how long can I help him?
How long can I do that and make sure I have a force capable of doing whatever the nation asks it to do?’ “

The nation asks it to do? Are you shitting me?
What the rulers say — in this case, George Jr. and The Dick, and now, in knuckling to the status quo, President Obama.

A war never-ending makes for some bad shit-times for the people involved, those seeking employment in this sector better beware.
From today’s NYT: The brutal, premeditated killings of three Afghan civilians — allegedly at the hands of American soldiers — are expected to be detailed in military court near here this fall, potentially undermining efforts by the United States as it tries to win support among Afghans in fighting the Taliban.
Battle does bad shit to everybody involved.

(Illustration found here).

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