Do Recruiters Exploit Poor Teens?

In the quiet of his family's apartment, Jorge Alarcon puts on his ROTC uniform. A silent ritual that transforms him from a student — into a soldier.

He makes his way down the dark streets of East Los Angeles to Lincoln High. CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports that it is an inner city school with a long tradition of sending kids — like Jorge — into service.

Jorge says he takes good care of the uniform.

Is that part of who he is?

"Yes," he says.

Jorge came to East Los Angeles from Guatemala.

"I came to this country for something," he says. "There's something I've got to do to pay back."

He is the highest-ranking ROTC cadet at school and teaches color guard classes.

Clearly, the military isn't for everyone. But Jorge says it makes perfect sense for him.

"I need money for college," he says.

He says the Marines will help him become a dentist.

There's a good chance that if Jorge is in the Marines in the next few years he could end up in Iraq. But even though it is wartime, Jorge doesn't think he'll go there.

"It doesn't mean they are going to get you right away," Jorge says.

But many here say these low-income students are being exploited by recruiters.

School administrator Cynthia High is part of a group of parents and teachers who want to restrict recruiters access to kids on campus.

"I don't like to see our students exploited or misled," High says.

"I think they're coming here because it's a low income neighborhood," High says. "I get the feeling they feel like it's their turf, their territory."

Some wonder what's wrong with brining in military recruiters if you bring in college recruiters.

"If it was done equitably I wouldn't have as much of an argument with that," she says.

Sometimes, she thinks the students feel it's the only option they have.

Jorge says it's the best option for him. He doesn't feel preyed upon, he feels proud.

"Not everyone can have this kind of honor," he says. "Holding a rifle and wearing a uniform. Not a lot of people can do that."