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Maura and David Shepard have asked military leaders and legislators to help their son Brian (center), a freshman at New Hampshire Technical Institute, leave the Marine Reserve. (Bill Polo/ Globe Staff) Family feels misled by recruiter

Kingston student to be sent to Iraq

By Jenna Russell, Globe Staff | October 10, 2005

KINGSTON -- Brian Shepard thought he had the perfect plan: a special program, offered by a Marine Corps recruiter last spring, that would let him finish four years of college before he faced active duty.

Instead, the 18-year-old was notified last week -- less than one month into his freshman year at New Hampshire Technical Institute -- that his Marine Reserve unit will be sent to Iraq early next year, a development that Shepard said his recruiter never told him was possible.

A Marine spokesman said recruiters make no guarantees to enlistees about their deployment. The enlistment paperwork signed by Shepard stated he would have to leave college if his unit was activated, according to the spokesman.

The college student and his parents have appealed to military leaders, state legislators, and US Representative William D. Delahunt to help Shepard leave the Marines. Their complaint joins a rising chorus of concern nationwide over military recruiting tactics as the conflict in Iraq drives high demand for new enlistments, and pressure grows on recruiters to meet quotas.

Both the Army and the Marines have missed some monthly recruiting quotas this year as casualties in Iraq have continued to mount, and polls have shown steep increases in the number of parents who said they would discourage their children from enlisting.

''Recruiters are under pressure, and they will say anything," said Neil Berman, a Somerville lawyer and volunteer for the GI Rights Hotline, a national organization that advises enlistees who are trying to leave the military.

In an interview Saturday at their blue-clapboard, Cape-style Kingston home, where the large, fireplaced family room looks out on rambling woods, Shepard's parents said they hope, with assistance from Delahunt, to help their son exercise an early-exit option available within the first 180 days of enlistment. They said they don't know if the Marines must honor his request.

Members of the Shepard family, who described how they got to know the local recruiter, and came to trust him over several months, said they relied on him -- not the fine print in a written contract -- to explain Shepard's options and guide him.

That guidance, they say now, was marked by deception.

The family's dilemma was set in motion last fall, when Shepard, then a senior at Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston, sent in a request for more information about the Marine Corps. A recruiter called his home repeatedly, and insisted they meet in person, he said.

When they met in February at the family's kitchen table, Maura Shepard listened as her son explained that he wanted to go to college and finish in four years. The recruiter described a ''split" reserve program that would let him finish college before he was deployed.

Maura Shepard said she asked the man twice if her son definitely could finish college, and that he replied yes. She said the recruiter never explained that the four-year delayed option was only for Marines training to be officers, and that if her son failed to qualify for the officer training, he would lose his shot at a delayed entry.

Her husband, David Shepard, who was away on business in Morocco when the recruiter first visited, met him later and was given the same assurances, he said.

The young man did not rush to a decision. With his parents still cautious about the military, he applied to colleges and talked with a family friend who had been a Marine. The recruiter kept calling, offering him money for college, and inviting Brian Shepard to join a rigorous training session in the snow.

''I liked it because it was a challenge," said Brian Shepard, who played high school football. ''I've always liked a challenge. I liked what the Marines stood for. I thought it was a great deal. And I trusted him."

He enlisted in April. He said that when he asked if his parents could review the contract, he was told there was not time. He admitted he erred by not reading the fine print, but said he had faith that the recruiter guided him fairly.

A short time later, his recruiter learned Shepard's score on the military entrance exam. Brian Shepard said the older man told him he would not be able to get the technician job he had hoped for, but did not mention his failure to qualify for the four-year delayed entry option.

He finished high school and started boot camp in mid-June. He graduated from boot campSept. 2, with his parents watching proudly, and started college four days later. He said it was not until two weeks ago, when he reported to Fort Devens in Ayer for his first weekend training session, that he learned he had no special status and could be shipped to Iraq at any time.

A week later, a phone message left for him by a Marine Corps communications officer shattered his dream of college. In January, his reserve unit will head to California for three months of training, then to Iraq.

''I felt totally betrayed, and extremely frightened," his mother said. ''I was absolutely shocked, and I was very sad for Brian because he took a long time deciding, and he felt good about it."

David Shepard said he felt angry -- and desperate. Both parents met last week with the recruiter, who blamed the situation on a misunderstanding, they said.

Contacted at his office in Plymouth, the recruiter, Sergeant Jason M. Whipkey, referred questions to the regional spokesman in Portsmouth.

The spokesman, Staff Sergeant Ken Tinnin, said the possibility that Shepard's unit could be mobilized, forcing him to leave college, was included in the contract he signed when he enlisted. He said Shepard's recruitment is not being reviewed for impropriety.

''There's no way any guarantee could have been made because we're Marines, and we deploy, especially during this time. It's in our job description," Tinnin said. He confirmed that Shepard tried to gain entry to the officers' program and did not qualify. He also said the recruit then decided to join the regular program.

Reports of unethical recruiting are received infrequently by the Portsmouth recruiting headquarters, which oversees a dozen recruiting substations, including six in Eastern Massachusetts, Tinnin said. Six complaints were investigated in 2004, and two complaints have been investigated this year; all eight have been found to be unsubstantiated, he said.

Meanwhile, the Portsmouth region slightly exceeded its recruiting goal of 827 last year, enlisting 863 Marines even though the war in Iraq ''has produced challenges for recruiting," Tinnin wrote in an e-mail.

According to a fact sheet compiled by the GI Rights Hotline, a national clearinghouse that has handled thousands of phone calls from military members, the most common complaint is: ''my recruiter lied."

In May, amid mounting concern about aggressive and unethical recruiting tactics, the Army ordered all 7,500 recruiters to set aside their regular work to spend one full day reviewing recruiting guidelines.

The same week, US Representative Pete Stark, a California Democrat, called for an investigation of recruiting strategies, citing a 50 percent increase from 2002 to 2004 in the number of reported recruitment improprieties that were substantiated by the Army.
 

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I don't know a person that has enlisted that hasn't been lied to by their recruiter, it's almost a right of passage. But oddly in this case it seems he's just dumb and hasn't been lied to at all.

I will also note that many that sign up for the "education" are freaking dumb....
When I was in DS1, you can't imagine the number of kids that were like, "We just signed up for college money, we didn't expect to go to war."
Hey numbnuts, is the freaking military....their job ain't smoking dope and playing pattycake with Sally Crotchrot back on the block.

Face it, if you can't read and understand an enlistment contract, or you score so poorly on the ASVAB you can't get a slot, and your parents are equally as dumb not to read the fine print...then the BEST thing you could do in your whole life is enlist and serve.

You wanted a challenge, you got one...now live up to it.
 

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This kid represents the future of this country - a bunch of sniveling, snot-nosed whiny pukes with breast feeding/potty training issues who will soon enough be running the show while we're all fighting to see a nickel of our Social Security. Hooray! :letitall:
 
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Suck it up and do your duty! On the other hand, it maybe better for the brave and honorable to have this kid stripped of the honor of wearing the uniform. I wouldn't want a cry baby coward providing my cover fire.
 

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Ditto on all the previous post, not to mention that photo is friggen pathetic!! Can you say "democratic liberals" Anybody who does not want to face the possibility of being shipped out overseas for combat should not enlist during a friggen war.

These folks are clueless. Did they actually think that with no end in sight to the current war that there son would actually skate through for four years without the possibility of being deployed. All recruiters lie, it's a fact of life. They have numbers they have to maintain and employ questionable tactics in order to do so.

Hell I can think of three separate documentaries about recruiter deceptions that have aired on national TV programs such as 60 minutes. This is not news, this has happened before and some mom and dad worried about little Johnny pitched a bitch to the local recruiting office and when that didn't work they went to the media much like the Shepard's are doing now.

You know what let em out, take away the funding for school and hit him with a dishonorable discharge!

 

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Amen !!!

You know what let em out, take away the funding for school and hit him with a dishonorable discharge!
 

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Instead, the 18-year-old was notified last week -- less than one month into his freshman year at New Hampshire Technical Institute -- that his Marine Reserve unit will be sent to Iraq early next year, a development that Shepard said his recruiter never told him was possible.
They must not have a TV are not able to see the country is involved in a war on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the larger war on terror and homeland security needs. I'm not buying the ignorance excuse here.
 

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Tough shit. :-({|= He is not fit to wear the eagle globe and anchor if he doesn't want to get deployed. That's your job, eat sleep and train for war. It's people like this that screw the other guys in their unit by trying to get out at the last minute. Do your time and duty, then go to college. Hell, that's what I did and it worked out fine for me. For all the government gives you, ie: vet status, gi bill, free tuition, medical benefits, government programs for vets, preference for jobs, and much more. A 4 or 6 year reserve billet is a small price to pay.
 

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Hey. maybe he should try pretending he's a fucking homosexual, he's halfway there with that picture. We had a few people try that shit to avoid getting deployed when I was in. These goddamn kids who join for college money. Recruiters lie, period. It's their job to snow you into enlisting, period. They will tell you anything. There was some bitch in my unit who sat there and told me that she was told that as a 96B she'd be immediately assigned to work "undercover" at the White House, as an E-1, and was wondering why she was assigned to a MI company and not the White House... another fucking stupid DEP'er. She told the platoon sergeant that it was NOT HER JOB to assist the cooks in the DFAC, after all, she was college educated. When it looked like we might be deployed to the Balkans, she suddenly developed feelings for other women. Too many of these idiot kids bitch that they were going to be called up when all they did is enlist for money. Hey, asshole, it's the friggin' military, not the Boy Scouts. You want a scholarship where the only risk you'll have to take is a sprained ankle, play sports or get straight A's. I wonder why they don't just charge everyone who claims not to have read the enlistment contract... seriously. The "fine print" just above your signature says that you've read and understand the contract and that you've provided accurate and truthful statements. If you didn't read it or understand it, well then, to me you should get 18 USC 1001 or whatever. Hell, charge him under Article 99 for being a fucking coward.
 

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Wow!

How can this kid go graduate from P.I. and then pull this attitude? He isn't fit to cut the grass over Chesty Puller's grave.
:pirate:
 

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It reminds me of all the kids that come into my office daily to appeal their tickets. They appeal them because they didn't know. They didn't know they had to actually stick their decal on their window. They didn't know they had to park in between the lines. They didn't know they had to get a pass if they didn't have a decal. These are all college kids. And if that's not enough, if their ticket appeal doesnt' get approved, then they have Mommy or Daddy call and complain. It's so irritating. YOU ARE IN COLLEGE! FIGURE IT OUT! It's not that difficult.

Just goes to show you that they want more responsibilities and more freedom but when they get that freedom and go do what they want to do, they screw up and have to have Mommy and Daddy fix it for them.
 
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Accountability and Fortitude 101 should be a mandatory class instead of all these bleeding heart required to graduate "electives" colleges and universities shove down your throat. The only thing academia is trying to give a student is a Wah degree. This is now the product. A picture w/ a kid who makes a commitment and quits and a father leaning against him with a "if I only could be a man" look on him.
 

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What I don't understand is why people like this join the military, and then when it looks like they'll be shipped off to do some fighting, do what this weenie does, or say that they are a "Consientous Objector " and can't kill anyone and then desert ?

Besides, doesn't he realize that there are thousands of service men and women that have given up school, jobs, friends, and family for their country ? Or those that gave their lives in service to their country ?

Though, I'm surprised the mother let this kid out of her womb long enough to sign those papers.
 
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