Raise the age of military service and ban recruiters from high schools
Ever wonder why it’s legal to serve as a soldier at age 18 in America but you can’t legally have alcohol until you are 21? In 1971 the drinking age did go down to 18, but it returned to 21 due to increased drunk driving fatalities. Another argument to keep the legal drinking age at 21 is that alcohol at a young age affects brain development and can lead to early addiction.
Similarly, our society needs to reassess the legal military age in the U.S.
Both alcohol and the military disproportionately affect low-income communities of color where there is a yearning to escape from poverty. The military recruiters target low-income groups at their high schools, promising to pay for their college education but they fail to mention all the trauma and mental illness that could result from their military experience. A Psychiatric Times article in 2018 stated “Almost a third of all service-persons in these ongoing conflicts suffer from some clinically significant mental condition, the poster child for which is PTSD, and their complications of suicide, addiction and domestic or other-directed violence.” Many of these young veterans leave the military with a lot of trauma due to all the death they have seen and near-death experiences they’ve encountered. According to an American Physiological Association 2020 report, “Approximately 17 U.S. veterans die by suicide every day—a rate that is about 1.5 times that of nonveterans after adjusting for differences in age and sex, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.” This means that approximately 6,205 soldiers commit suicide every year. Many of these soldiers are young and didn’t completely think through the cons of joining the military. For many minority kids, joining the military is a simple quick way of getting out of poverty so they don’t put much thought into it. Therefore, the legal military age should be raised to 21 and military recruiters should not be allowed in high schools. Like underage drinking, the military puts young people at risk. When they are older and more mature, they will be more aware of these risks and more likely to make a better decision.
Senior at BCLA