A British organization called Veterans For Peace (VFP) is urging the government to review the rules of enlisting 16-year-olds into the military. It claims the lads at such an age are very young to understand what they are getting into.
Getting into the service is an all-together different thing when already deployed to an actual war, Ben Griffin, a VFP co-ordinator, who served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan in the SAS and the Parachute Regiment, said.
“In war, you’re fighting a civilian population: you’re breaking down doors in the middle of the night. That can be a terrible shock” to someone so young.
But because the recruit is locked into the forces until 22 years old, they cannot get out. “It’s a sinister thing, pulling in people who are less critical and easier to mold,” Griffin said.
Although the service has a provision for “unhappy juniors,” this can only be served still at the discretion of the youth’s commanding officer. It offers no guarantee.
Joining the military should be an informed decision isn’t about glamor. British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to establish 100 new units in state schools to build “character, grit and determination.”
“We’re not a pacifist organization but among the flag-waving on Armed Forces Day, spare a thought for the unquantifiable cost of war: not just those who have lost a limb, but those living with chronic pain, with facial or abdominal injuries, with PTSD, with anger and psychological damage, the effect on families,” Griffin said.
Britain is the only state in Europe or NATO that still enlists minors, The Guardian reports. A spokesman from the MoD told the media outlet it doesn’t accept recruits younger than 18 “without the formal written consent of their parent or guardian.”