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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New law needed to protect young military recruits

worried american ( has emailed you information from Veterans for America




Article Title: New law needed to protect young military recruits

''Perhaps we should call it the Jennifer Marie Hartman Law.''

''Perhaps we should call it the Jennifer Marie Hartman Law.''

Jennifer Marie Hartman was 21 when she died in Iraq earlier this month. The Tamaqua High School graduate was a cook assigned to the 4th Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, based at Ft. Hood, Texas. She was in her barracks in west Baghdad when it was hit by a suicide truck bombing. Army officials kept Jennifer's family in the dark for four days before telling them for certain that she had been killed.

Jennifer was taken to Iraq on the strength of a lie; a blatant, bald-faced unvarnished lie. She was told by an Army recruiter that she would not go to Iraq if she enlisted. I suppose the lawyer in me would have demanded to see this promise in writing, but apparently high school graduates these days are being told they can rely upon the verbal assurances of military recruiters.

What happened to her is a sobering reminder to school district officials and college administrators in the Lehigh Valley who allow military recruiters onto school grounds. We now have direct evidence that recruits are being lied to. While I realize that the Republican Congress is in total lockstep with George W. Bush on Iraq, I suggest a new piece of legislation for Congress to consider. Perhaps we should call it the Jennifer Marie Hartman Law. Any and all promises, representations, assurances or statements of any kind made by any military recruiter for any branch of the U.S. armed forces should be reduced to writing at the time they are made, in the form of a written contract to be signed by all parties. The contract should be signed by the military recruiter's commanding officer, the recruiter, the recruit, and, if the recruit is under age 21, by at least one parent.

In view of what happened to Jennifer Hartman, every superintendent of every Lehigh Valley school district needs to conduct a thorough review of what is being said by these recruiters. I doubt Republican incumbents and candidates would support a Jennifer Marie Hartman Law because it would anger President Bush, so I call on Democratic incumbents and candidates to tell us where they stand on the idea of attempting to control recruiters. As we approach the Nov. 7 election, Jennifer Hartman's death throws into high relief the total moral bankruptcy of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld debacle in Iraq.

They have gotten us into another Vietnam. The monetary cost of this fiasco now approaches $320 billion. What have we gotten for our money? Are we any safer? It is mind-boggling to contemplate how that money could have been better used to protect Americans here at home, or for education, or for health care, or for reducing our tax burdens or reducing our national debt. Instead, nearly 3,000 young Americans have been killed, and 20,000 have been maimed. According to a Veterans' Health Administration report, more than one-third of the veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering from stress disorders. And then, of course, thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed.

A National Intelligence Estimate, which reflects the consensus view of all 16 government intelligence agencies, including the CIA, says that the Iraq war is causing increased terrorism. In short, Bush's war in Iraq has made us less safe. I know the religious right remains in full support of Mr. Bush and his war, yet I find it disturbing that Christians can reconcile Bush's war policies with the Sermon on the Mount. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine formulated the concept of a Just War. Section 2309 of the Catholic Catechism defines what constitutes a ''just war.'' Read Section 2309. One cannot even begin to use the Just War provisions of Section 2309 to endorse what is happening in Iraq.

The clock is running on the November mid-term elections. I am hoping our Democratic congressional candidates will set a standard for all Democratic congressional candidates by calling for an orderly end to Mr. Bush's disastrous and failed war in Iraq. Jennifer Marie Hartman's death makes all of us realize we must stand up and be counted.

Mr. Bush, get us out of Iraq. Stop wasting American lives and American resources. You had three-and-a-half years to pursue your war. You botched the job. You simply cannot ask Americans to continue sending their children to die for this failed policy. We cannot have any more Jennifer Hartmans coming home in flag-draped coffins. What was done to this young woman is an utter disgrace.

Donald P. Russo is an attorney in Bethlehem. His e-mail address is

Please visit Veterans for America at


  • At Thursday, October 05, 2006 10:34:00 AM , Blogger Endorendil said...

    Worried, you assume that putting it in writing would help. If the recruiter would have produced a piece of paper that had an obvious "out" for his claims (all military contracts allow for emergency situations in which almost any protections are null and void), would it have mattered? Being able to read is asking a lot from a US high school graduate. Being able to understand a newspaper article warning them about army recruiters is asking much more. Being able to parse a legal paper that determines whether you live or die is just way too much.

    The best way to remove this kind of preying on the poor and undereducated is to reinstate the draft.

  • At Thursday, October 05, 2006 10:45:00 PM , Blogger Worried said...

    The draft is probably coming, since the need for more live bodies is great and recruitment is down. Thank you for your comment.

  • At Friday, October 06, 2006 1:54:00 AM , Blogger Granny said...

    Remember the Civil War history? The rich folk were able to buy their way out of the Army. Perfectly legal back then.

    It's not that far removed now. Shrub never got any closer to service than the TX ANG and I bet there is no way he'd let Jenna and not-Jenna near the Army.


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