11 News Defenders 
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
HOUSTON — With a war in Iraq and fighting on the rise in Afghanistan, the struggle to bring in new U.S. Army recruits is heating up again.
And Irving Gonzales, 18, got caught up in it all.
As his family’s oldest male, he feels he has to do whatever it takes to help out his single mom. For him, that means working long hours at his after-school job.
“My mom was left struggling. I would give her more than half my paycheck,” Gonzales said.
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That’s why the Aldine High School senior started thinking about the Army – and the tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses that can come with enlistment.
“They were offering me school, they were offering me bonuses,” he said.
So Gonzales signed up – but only to “pre-enlist” in the Delayed Entry Program. DEP allows kids to try out the military without a binding commitment.
But the 11 News Defenders have found there is a problem: Army recruiters aren’t sticking to the program and are bullying and even lying to potential recruits and their families to keep them from dropping out.
After he had a change of heart, Gonzalez became one such victim.
“I’d rather just stay here, go to college,” he said he told his recruiter.
The reaction: Gonzalez said a recruiter told him if he did drop out, they would send him to jail.