This is one in a series of stories about Eugene/Springfield and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars produced by students in Dan Morrison's NewsLab class at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. Morrison embedded with Marines in Helmand province in August 2010.
EUGENE, Ore. - Michael Stout spends a lot of his time providing high students with accurate information about the Marine Corps.
So does Carol Van Houten.
The difference? Stout is a Marine staff sergeant on recruiting duty. Van Houten organizes the Truth in Recruiting project.
"Truth in Recruiting is a program to get information - accurate information - out to young people about what enlisting in the military really entails," Van Houten said.
Formerly known as the Committee for Countering Military Recruitment, Truth in Recruiting is a non-profit organization and joint project of the Community Alliance of Lane County and the Eugene chapter of Veterans for Peace. The group was active in the 1980s but took on a new level of activity in 2002 as the U.S. prepared to invade Iraq.
"One of the things we've asked the schools to do is to limit the military recruiters to a reasonable amount of time in the schools," Van Houten said.
Staff Sgt. Stout uses that time to give prospective Marines a better picture of what the military has to offer.
"A lot of people don't know that the Marine Corps even has aviation, they don't understand that the Marine Corps has administration, or legal, or mechanics," he said. "They just think we're all crazy people that come out of the sea with ka-bars and M-16s."
In this multimedia piece, Oregon NewsLab talks with Staff Sgt. Michael Stout, military recruiter for the Marines; Carol Van Houten, organizer of Truth in Recruiting; and Coleman Hyerstay, senior at Churchill High School. They provide insight into the life of a recruiter, the concerns of Truth in Recruiting - and the perspective of a student who recently enlisted in the Marines.
"I enlisted in the Marine Corps reserves and during that time I intend to go to Oregon State," Hyerstay said. "There were other other options considers, yes. I just felt that this was the one I wanted to do.
"My parents were supportive of my decision to join," he said. "They just wanted more information on it so they could be well informed."