We have attended events at UC Santa Cruz as recently as the graduate fair this past fall and were registered to attend this past week’s career fair. The individual from our office who registered to attend this career fair made a judgment call last week to withdraw from the event based on a projected return on investment in attending. It was a decision independent of any prospect of student protest and was not in response to any discouragement from faculty and staff at UC Santa Cruz. The career center and administration has supported our attendance at these events, despite the added cost to the university and the concerns for the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, law enforcement and campus visitors alike. I believe that the administration is ultimately supporting students in allowing for the presence of the Armed Forces given the ramifications of compliance with the Solomon Amendment. Personally, I believe it to be in the interest of students to remain informed of career options available to them. Routinely I hear of instances where it is clear that “ignorance breeds contempt.” This will only be increasingly true at UC Santa Cruz if the place and value of the Armed Forces in our society is not clearly understood. Even basic understanding, if not agreement, would serve the continued intellectual development for all parties involved.
So that all sides of this issue are clearly represented, we were not influenced by, or aware of the student government’s communication with campus administrators regarding a large-scale protest effort. It is our responsibility to accurately represent opportunities for qualified individuals in the Army Medical Department and we will continue to do so to the best of our ability. An April 20 Sentinel article cites the fact that student-activists believe “counter-recruitment efforts [to be] the most direct and effective way to make it difficult for the government to wage war.” Given that the student population at UC Santa Cruz is generally not propense toward military involvement, these efforts directed toward recruitment will remain largely ineffectual other than generating regional interest and publication. Student-activists and organizations should understand that the Department of Defense (DoD) acts on guidance from the Department of State and is an instrument of the executive and legislative branches of our government. Influencing real change should be pursued diplomatically through our congressional representation and as we exercise our right to vote for elected officials of our choosing.
I believe that the Army Medical Department serves an incredible patient population — one that is deserving of the best care that can be given. Efforts that seek to undermine the system that provides medical care to our soldiers, their family members, the broader DoD community and countless individuals in need of humanitarian care and relief are counterproductive to the basic tenants of human dignity and compassion. The Army as a whole represents a myriad of career opportunities and should be afforded a voice in our society.
Peder L. Swanson<br/>Major, Medical Service Corps<br/>Healthcare Advisor<br/>United States Army Recruiting Command