This action alert was sent by AFSC’s Youth and Militarism Program. I wonder if these military recruitment video simulation games also simulate the horror, carnage and haunting memories of real war. Somehow, I doubt it.
Don’t let your tax dollars fund violent military recruitment video games!
The Army has spent over $21 million on recruiting tools that use gaming technology, including life sized video games and game consoles shaped like Hummers and Blackhawk Helicopters.
In the travelling Virtual Army Experience (VAE) and the Philadelphia based Army Experience Center, youth as young as 13 years old, are encouraged to play violent military video games. These games glamorize soldiers’ experiences and leave out information on the challenges people face when they enlist. These centers may be billed as education hubs but they don’t include conversations about the financial, physical or emotional costs of war.
Last month, the House Armed Services Committee commended the Army “for using game technology and other high-tech systems to reach out to and communicate with America’s youth.” Only you can set Congress straight. Tell your members of Congress to discontinue the Virtual Army Experience and Army Experience Center. These centers are pilot programs and if you don’t speak out, Congress will probably fund more of them.
American Friends Service Committee and other organizations are joining hands to work against the Virtual Army Experience and Army Experience Center. Here are ways you can participate.
Email or Call your member of Congress
Congressional staffers value personal messages over form letters. Please:
- Mention that you are a constituent;
- Explain why you care about this issue;
- Ask your representative to initiate and /or support initiatives to defund the Virtual Army Experience and Army Experience Center;
- Thank your member of Congress for his or her attention to this issue.
Immediate or Long-term Actions
This issue needs more attention, especially since these centers have been praised by Congress and could possibly receive more money in the future. Hold a community meeting to educate your neighbors about these centers.
Boycott VAE and Army Experience Center Locations
Your money talks. The mobile VAE is exhibited at popular events around the country. When the VAE comes to your area, organize a boycott of the event and let the event organizers know why the boycott is happening. The Philadelphia based AEC is located at the Franklin Mills Mall (a Simon mall). If you live in the area, organize a boycott of this mall and write The Simon Property Group to let them know about your decision. (Email: http://www.simon.com/about_simon/sbv/contact_us.aspx)
Meeting with your member of Congress
You may be able to meet with your members of Congress on a Monday or Friday when they are in your home state of during a Congressional recess period. If a meeting with your member is not possible, meet with a local staff member who covers defense issues. AFSC can provide a sheet on conducting a meeting.
Get media attention
The media has cast the Virtual Army Experience and Army Experience Center in a positive light. They haven’t discussed the negative moral and ethical implications of using video games to recruit youth. Send local print, radio and television media a press release on your meeting with Congress or any community meetings about this issue. You might also consider inviting the media with you to your Congressional meeting but make sure this is alright with the office first.
Send a statement to your local community radio station
Many community radio stations will read public service announcements over the air for free so send them a statement signed by organizations or individuals in your community. You may also be able to find a local show that can highlight this topic. Try shows that cover youth and/or local issues, national politics, or social change in general.
Sign the petition to shut down the Army Experience Center
A regional coalition of organizations and individuals are collaborating to oppose the Army Experience Center, which uses violent video games and does not contextualize these experiences. You can read and sign the petition they have created here:
More details on the Virtual Army Experience and Army Experience Center:
The Army launched the $9.8 million Virtual Army Experience (VAE) in 2007 as a mobile exhibit featuring Up-Armored Hummers and Blackhawk Helicopter simulator stations with M4 Rifles and M249 Squad Automatic Weapons realistically mounted on the vehicles. The 19,500 sq. foot exhibit also features numerous consoles where young people can play the taxpayer funded America’s Army computer game. The VAE travels throughout the country and is exhibited at events where large numbers of youth can be found, like music festivals, air shows and expos.
The $12 million Army Experience Center launched in August 2008 at a 14,500 sq. foot facility in Philadelphia’s Franklin Mills Mall. It has similar components as the Virtual Army Experience but is a pilot program to determine if video games and simulators that youth are familiar with should be the future of military recruiting and the army should open additional centers around the country.
Program Analyst for Youth & Militarism
Office – 215-241-7046
Cell – 267-266-8745