Dear Secretary of State
We are writing to ask you to raise the minimum age for joining the British armed forces from 16 to 18.
As veterans of every conflict in which this country has been involved since the Second World War, we are convinced that 16 and 17-year-olds are too young to be recruited and trained for war.
We have been through military training; it is a brutal form of psychological conditioning designed to fundamentally alter the way your mind works, leaving the army in control of what you value and how you react. These values and reactions are very difficult to switch off and cause all sorts of problems later on in civilian life. No other country in Europe subjects 16 year olds to this process, it’s time this country caught up
We have seen conclusive research showing how joining the army early jeopardises the wellbeing and life chances of the youngest recruits. 16-year-old soldiers are much more likely than adults to be given jobs in the frontline infantry, where they face the toughest training and also the greatest risks once they turn 18 and are sent to war. Infantrymen were six times as likely to die in Afghanistan as soldiers in the rest of the army.
Military training is no place for 16 and 17 year olds, our children should be in real education until they turn 18. Then they can decide, at the age of adult responsibility, whether or not they want to join up.
We thank you for your attention to this and look forward to your response.
Veterans For Peace UK