A group of Iraq war veterans gathered in St. Louis on Saturday to protest the use of America’s Army as a recruitment tool.
The Iraq Veterans Against the War organization was in St. Louis over the weekend for its annual meeting when around 90 members of the group decided to stage the brief protest. They gathered around the army recruitment booth at the Missouri Black Expo and shouted “War is not a game!” three times.
IVAW Executive Director Kelly Dougherty, who served as a medic and military police officer in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, said recruiters often target low-income and minority groups. “We want people to know the truth about military service and that it’s not always what they say,” she said. She added that many people may not realize the impact the Iraq war will have on their service, which could include repeat deployments, extended tours and difficulty accessing benefits. “People who are considering joining the military should know the truth so they can make an informed decision,” she added.
Developed by the U.S. Army, America’s Army was originally released free of charge in 2002 as a recruitment tool, but saw almost instant success as a stand-alone videogame. While it has attracted considerable controversy over its jingoistic appeal to impressionable youth, the game’s popularity has led to Linux, OSX and Xbox versions as well as the original PC release. A mobile phone version is published by Gameloft, and an arcade version featuring light guns (not light guns) is in development.