Military recruitment abuses uncovered
(New York- WABC, November 2, 2006) (WABC) -- These are tough times for the U.S. Military. With a bloody war in Iraq, finding new recruits isn't easy. But does that justify lying to recruit new soldiers?
The Investigators uncovered unethical tactics by recruiters in New York and New Jersey.
Last year, the Army fell short of its recruiting goals for the first time in years. While this year the Army is making its quota, it's how they're doing it that's being called into question because of what we found undercover.
Mt. Vernon recruiter: "We're like we're not at war, war ended a long time ago."
A recruiter tells our undercover student the war is over.
Mt. Vernon Recruiter: "The news never said war, they're not lying now they never said war."
It appears some Army recruiters are willing to say just about anything to reel-in a new soldier.
Student: "Will I be going to war?"
Recruiter: "I would say your chances would be slim to none ..."
We sent students undercover to ten Army recruiting offices throughout the Tri-State area.
Recruiter: "We almost welcome being shot at because it helps us identify where they are shooting from ..."
Some recruiters were up front about the dangers of enlisting.
Stamford recruiter: "Every job in the Army does include combat. Plain and simple."
But nearly half of the recruiters who talked to our undercover students compared everyday risks here at home to being in Iraq.
Elizabeth recruiter: "I like Subway sandwiches and salads. I watched the news yesterday, a guy got killed at Subway."
Patchogue recruiter: "You have a 10-times greater chance of dying out here on the roads than you do dying in Iraq."
Mt. Vernon recruiter: "I'd rather be hit by a car instead of getting hit by a bomb, what's the difference. Your not living, your dead. That sucker is gone it's a wrap."
And with the end of the war no where in sight, the general in charge suggesting more troops might be needed, some recruiters told our students if they enlisted there was little chance they'd go to war.
Student: "Aren't people still being shipped out?"
New Jersey recruiter: "Naw, they bringing people back."
Student: "Nobody is going out to Iraq anymore?"
Recruiter: "Naw, we bringing people back."
Yonkers recruiter: "As long as you don't choose a job in this area, you don't have to worry about going over there."
Hoffer: "Chances are if you're signing up to the Army these days, you have a pretty good chance of going to Iraq, don't you?"
Colonel Robert Manning/1st Recruiting Brigade: "I would not disagree with that ... we are an Army and a nation at war still."
Colonel Manning is in charge of U.S. Army recruiting for the entire northeast. He agreed to take a look at our undercover video of his recruiters.
Colonel Manning: "It's hard to believe some of things they are telling perspective applicants. ... I still believe that this is the exception more than the norm."
Hoffer: "Well what are you saying then? That we just got wildly lucky to find recruiters more than half of the 10 we visited to be stretching the truth or even worse, lying?"
Colonel Manning: "I've visited many stations myself and I know that we have many wonderful Americans serving in uniform as recruiters."
Yet we found one recruiter who even claimed if you don't like the Army you could just quit.
Yonkers recruiter: "It's called "failure to adapt" discharge. It's an entry level discharge so it won't affect anything on your record it will just be like it never happened."
Hoffer: "This recruiter makes it seem its's pretty easy to get out of it if you change your mind? Is that true?"
Colonel Manning: "I would believe it's not as easy as he would lead you to believe it is."
Hoffer: "It's probably pretty tough isn't it?"
Colonel Manning: "It's tough."
Sue Niederer, mother: "They need to do anything they possibly can to get new recruits."
Sue Niederer says she's all too familiar with recruiters' lies.
Hoffer: "So he was told he wouldn't see combat?"
Sue: "Absolutely, absolutely."
Her son joined the Army in 2002 and ended up in Iraq. His job, to find roadside bombs.
Hoffer: "How did he die?"
Sue: "Killed by an IED."
Hoffer: "A bomb?"
Sue: "A bomb."
Two years later, she says our investigation confirms her belief that there's a widespread recruiting problem.
In which another casualty appears to be the truth.
Recruiter: "We've had more close calls on the Long Island Expressway than we did when we were over there."
Hoffer: "Doesn't this fly in the face of what this military stands for honesty and honor?"
Colonel Manning: "Yes, obviously, there is training that needs to be done."
Sue Niederer, mother: "Ninety percent going to be putting their lives on the line for our country. Tell them the truth. That's all. Just tell them the truth."
The colonel in charge of recruiting says he plans to open his own investigation to see how widespread the misconduct might be.
Now, if you have a tip about this story, e-mail The Investigators here or call 877-TIP-NEWS.
Tomorrow at 11, our undercover investigation continues where we take a look at how the Army tests new applicants for drugs, and you'd be surprised to find out, if you fail it's not necessarily a problem.
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