A group called the Coalition of Concerned Patriots has sent a letter to the School Board.
In response the Veterans Commission sent the below to the Sarasota County School Board and Superintendent Norris. This issue is important to all veterans and must be addressed.
Dear Superintendent Norris,
We have learned that the Coalition of Concerned Patriots has requested that the Sarasota County School District give them the same access and time on Sarasota high school campuses with students as military recruiters.
The Sarasota County Veterans Commission would like to become involved as you consider this request.
We firmly believe that the Coalition of Concerned Patriots should not be given the same access to high school campuses as military recruiters. As your staff has stated publicly, this group is presenting a narrow political view not offering our students career opportunities.
We have reviewed the web site of the Coalition. Their intent appears to be to create disruption and denigrate service in our military.
On their web site they openly provide information on how someone can create a conscientious objector's profile before entering the military for later use. Clearly the idea is to have people enter the military with the intent of becoming a conscientious objector. They state, "You need to build a paper trail and document everything possible that could help define you as a person who could not go to war. Have your photo, for example, taken at an anti-war event."
But why? The military is all volunteer. If someone objects to serving then simply do not volunteer.
The web site also makes statements that are lies or extreme exaggerations about service in the military in terms of educational opportunity, pay and benefits, job skills and the value of service to our nation. They ask blatantly politically motivated questions such as "Does dropping bombs on kids really sound like fun? How about killing or dying for corporate profit?"
We know that your outstanding legal staff is looking at what the law and your board policies say about providing access to this and other groups.
We support denying the Coalition access to any and all high school campuses. We say this for several reasons. As stated above the Coalition does not itself provide nor represent any organization that offers career opportunities to our students. We, after review of their web site and list of organizations that they associate with, believe they have a political anti-war view that they want to promote on campus. They clearly, by statements on their web site, are seeking to disrupt the efforts by military recruiters on campus, at Career Days and other events. This is a safety and security issue.
If it is not possible by current laws and district policy to deny the coalition access then we support limiting and controlling their access to high school campuses and what they can and cannot distribute.
We would appreciate the opportunity to appear before the board and state our position.
Dr. Richard M. Swier, LTC US Army (Ret.)
Sarasota County Veterans Commission