Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to block funding to prevent the U.S. military from courting middle and high school students.
The New York Times reported the New York Democrat and “Squad” member has introduced an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would prevent military branches from interacting with potential recruits.
Joining the military can generally offer young people from all backgrounds life options, such as tuition-free college, health care, home and business loans, cash bonuses and rewarding careers.
According to The Times, Ocasio-Cortez is seeking to limit the information available about those programs to teens by blocking the military from using federal funding to recruit in middle and high schools and request student data.
In a related amendment, she invoked the use of video games and e-sports by the military for recruitment purposes, and accused the military of targeting financially disadvantaged youths.
“Whether through recruitment stations in their lunchrooms or now through e-sports teams, children in low-income communities are persistently targeted for enlistment,” she said.
She admitted joining the military “can for some provide a rewarding career, but claimed “low-income Americans are not being given anywhere near the same information or access to trade schools, college or other post-graduate opportunities.”
“In many public high schools where military recruiters have a daily presence, there is not even a counselor,” she said.
“As a result, the military stops feeling like a ‘choice’ and starts feeling like the only option for many young, low-income Americans.”
One of Ocasio-Cortez’s proposals would prohibit the use of congressionally appropriated funds by the military to “maintain a presence on Twitch.com or any video game, e-sports, or live-streaming platform.”
The proposals will be considered by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday.
The Military Times reported the New York Democrat’s proposal for the defense spending budget comes amid a controversy surrounding the e-sports teams of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Each branch maintains a competitive e-sports team and an online presence as a tool for recruiting.
The Army account stopped broadcasting on the video game streaming platform Twitch last week.
That move was to review its policies in the face of criticism, as some commenters on the platform were banned by the channel after asking about war crimes, the video game blog Kotaku reported.
— Kotaku (@Kotaku) July 22, 2020
An Army representative told The Military Times, “Army recruiters understand that in order to do their job, they must be visible where their audience resides,” which is why they created a presence online.
“War is not a game, and the Marine Corps’ decision not to engage in this recruiting tool should be a clear signal to the other branches of the military to cease this practice entirely,” she said.
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