Army recruiter threatened teen with jail for not enlisting
An army recruiter in Houston has been lying to high school students about their obligations under a non-binding military "delayed entry program" and even threatening them with jail if they don't follow through and enlist.
Eighteen year old Irving Gonzales told KHOU 11 News in Houston that as a high school senior he started thinking about enlisting in the Army as a way of helping out his family financially and signed up for the program. But when he told the recruiter, Sgt. Glenn Marquette, that he'd changed his mind and "I'd rather just stay here, go to college," Marquette insisted that Gonzales couldn't get out because "you signed a binding contract."
Accourding to KHOU reporter Mark Greenblatt, Army recruiting regulations state that "delayed entry members can leave any time" and "under no circumstances can a recruiter threaten or intimidate future soldiers."
In an audio recording played by KHOU, Gonzales went on to ask, "What if I just don't show up?"
Marquette replied, "Then guess what? You're AWOL. ... You want to go to school? You will not get no loans. ... As soon as you get pulled over for a speeding ticket ... they're going to see that you're a deserter. Then they're going to apprehend you, take you to jail."
"All that lovey dovey I want to go to college and all that?" Marquette concluded. "Guess what? You just threw it out the window."
Marquette refused to speak to KHOU reporters who caught up with him in a parking lot, telling them, "I don't want to be bothered." However, the Army says that making threats as Marquette did is a violation of regulations and that he has been removed from recruiting duties, pending an investigation.
According to Greenblatt, when KHOU found the same tactics being used three years ago, the story became a national scandal and the military promised its recruiters would be retrained. "It seems someone didn't learn their lessons," Greenblatt reports. The officer involved in that earlier incident was even promoted to be a station commander, responsible for training and supervising other recruiters.
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), whose district lies just north and east of Houston, agrees that "there is a problem."
"Our country cannot deceive its citizens," Poe who is himself a veteran, told KHOU. "Since the Army hasn't taken the initiative, now Congress may have to get involved. ... The Army has to get their ship in shape."
KHOU has more details here.
This video is from KHOU 11 News, broadcast July 28, 2008.