An Army recruiter in Oklahoma allegedly sent a string of harassing texts to a woman because her 17-year-old daughter wasn’t interested in enlisting, Army officials said.

“If your child wishes to free herself from any toxic control, she’ll reach out to me and others like me,” the recruiter allegedly said in one of over a dozen texts to the woman. “You should feel disgusted you don’t want your child to have the easiest route in America to success.”

The recruiter has been suspended pending an investigation, an Army official told Task & Purpose.

Vanessa Jones, of Enid, Oklahoma, said the recruiter inundated her with rude text messages, even after she said she would report him for harassment.

“His behavior was pretty bad,” Jones told Task & Purpose on Tuesday. “I believe this is one bad recruiter, one bad situation. I think they could do a little bit better, honestly. I think maybe some help from the community or parents to maybe guide them in a softer way to approach this.”

The recruiter’s texts were first reported by KOCO-TV.

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The recruiter sent Jones a total of 14 text messages, 12 of which were after she told him that her daughter did not want to join the Army, she said, the most insulting of which was the message in which he said she should feel “disgusted” over her daughter’s decision.

Another troubling exchange allegedly came after she told the recruiter to stop messaging after receiving a lengthy text. Jones said she thought the long text had been sent by an automated system, so she replied “stop.”

The recruiter then replied with: “Stop what? Drop and roll? I am not on fire … Or should I stop in the name of love?”

With that, Jones said she realized that the recruiter thought he was speaking with her daughter.

“I told him I think that’s a weird thing to be texting someone,” Jones said. “He jumped to the conclusion that I thought he was a sex offender.”

That exchange, Jones claims, led to a second note on the topic of recruiters being viewed as possible sex offenders. “As a junior in high school, your child is eligible to enlist to fight for the country that gives you the right to have opinions and assume that Military and Career Recruiters are sexual offenders.”

After the incident, Jones said she went to the recruiting office to speak with the recruiter’s commanding officer. Instead, Jones was referred to a soldier who told her that she did not object to the recruiter’s messages. Jones was then escorted out of the recruiting office, which filed a police report against her.

No one from the Army has reached out to Jones since then, she said.

“I really just didn’t want him dealing with kids in this community,” Jones said, crying. “I think the Army will do the right thing. I will know what their investigation will prove, so I don’t think he’ll work with kids.”

U.S. Army Recruiting Command provided Task & Purpose with a statement saying it is aware of the incident involving the recruiter.

“The alleged actions are not aligned with the professional conduct expected of our U.S. Army Recruiters,” the statement said. “The battalion commander initiated an investigation into the alleged misconduct.  The recruiter is not conducting any recruiting duties, pending the outcome of the investigation.  Both the brigade commander and battalion commander met with the Superintendent of Enid Public Schools and the Principal of Enid High School.”

The incident comes as the Army faces its worst recruiting crisis in years. The Army missed its Fiscal Year 2022 recruiting goal by 15,000 people, and it fell short again in Fiscal 2023 by about 10,000 new recruits.

Being a military recruiter is also a high-stress job. In 2008, the Army launched an investigation after four recruiters in Texas took their own lives during the previous three years.

Making things even harder for recruiters, polls show that many Americans have also lost faith in the military following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and nominal end of Global War on Terrorism, Air Force veteran Ethan Brown recently wrote in a commentary for Modern War Institute at West Point.

None of that excuses the recruiter’s alleged behavior, said Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“Obviously, there needs to be an investigation, and accountability should be swift,” Rieckhoff told Task & Purpose on Tuesday. “It’s a poor representation of the military, and no matter how hard the recruiting environment, there’s no excuse for harassment like this.”

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