Army Recruiters Face Investigation
(CBS) In an attempt to boost slumping recruitment numbers, the U.S. Army has started offering stronger incentives, including increased enlistment bonuses.
But two recruiters from Colorado have been suspended as the Army investigates accusations that they encouraged a teenager to lie and cheat so he could join up.
Reporter Rick Sallinger of Denver TV station KCNC reports that 17-year-old high school journalist and honor student David McSwane is just the kind of guy the military would like.
But McSwane tells Sallinger, "I wanted to see how far the Army would go during a war to get one more solider."
So, says Sallinger, McSwane contacted his local Army recruiting office, in Golden, with a scenario he created.
For one thing, he told his recruiter, he was a dropout and didn't have a high school diploma.
No problem, McSwane says the recruiter explained. He suggested that McSwane create a fake diploma from a nonexistent school.
McSwane recorded the recruiter saying on the phone: "It can be like Faith Hill Baptist School. Whatever you choose."
So, as instructed, McSwane went to a Web site and, for $200, arranged to have a phony diploma created. It certified McSwane as a graduate of Faith Hill Baptist High School, the very name the recruiter had suggested, and came complete with a fake grade transcript.
What was McSwane's reaction to them encouraging him to get a phony diploma? "I was shocked. I'm sitting there looking at a poster that says, 'Integrity, honor, respect,' and he is telling me to lie."
And, says Sallinger, there was more.
The Army doesn't accept enlistees with a drug problem, but that's what McSwane pretended to have when he spoke with the recruiter.
"I have a problem with drugs. I can't kick the habit. Just marijuana," McSwane recalls telling the recruiter. "And he says, 'Not a problem. Just take this detox." He said he would pay for half of it, and told me where to go (to get it)."
Drug testers Sallinger contacted insist it doesn't work, but the recruiter claimed in another recorded phone conversation that taking the detoxification capsules and liquid would help McSwane pass the required test.
"The two times that I had the guys use it," the recruiter says on the tape, "it's worked both times. We didn't have to worry about anything."