Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Chicago youth hear truth from Sergeant Abe.

With its young folks on the receiving end of a slick and aggressive nationwide military recruiting drive, members of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., brought in their own recruiter: Sergeant Abe.

A creation of Quaker House in Fayetteville, N.C.--neighbor to Fort Bragg, one of the world's largest military complexes--"Sgt. Abe, the Honest Recruiter" appears overlaid on a copy of a conscription agreement. He points out key details that recruiters often fail to mention, such as non-negotiable extensions of deployment, and explains what they can mean in a soldier's life.

Sgt. Abe was just one of many tools employed during an afternoon workshop held at the church on the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, said Duane Ediger in a report from the event. To open the session, participants shared their connections with the military. Several offered stories of deep suffering by friends and family with combat-induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They also heard personal experiences of peacemaking in war zones, saw a video featuring interviews of enlistees, were given forms to fill out to help establish a claim of conscientious objection in case a military draft is reinstated, and learned that it is possible--even easy--to back out of a commitment to the Delayed Entry Program.

The 22 participants included seven youth--three regulars at First Church with four of their friends--several adult members of First Church, a chaplain from the neighboring Bethany Hospital, a South African visitor, a Mennonite pastor, a Voluntary Service worker with youth organizing for peace, and other local community organizers. Doug Hostetter, peace minister of Evanston (Ill.) Mennonite Church, and experienced draft counselor Rich Rutschman led the session.

The church served pizza and soft drinks after the 90-minute workshop and participants were invited to stay for the evening Bible study on the related theme of "The Healing Power of Nonviolence/Love" led by First Church pastor Orlando Redekopp.

"Sergeant Abe, the Honest Recruiter" is downloadable as a pdf file from

Source: 10/12/2005 Newsline

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