Print URL:

Local veterans guard military recruitment office

By Jake Magee
July 22, 2015

JANESVILLE—Chris Dean sat Wednesday on a bench a few doors down from the Armed Forces Career Center on Deerfield Drive.

His service dog Gandalf huddled in the shade beneath the bench. Somewhere on his person, Dean carried a concealed handgun.

Since Friday, Dean has spent hours each day outside the recruitment office, watching and waiting. He guessed he'd spent about 50 hours there as of Wednesday afternoon, and he's not quitting anytime soon.

Dean and at least a dozen other local veterans are taking shifts guarding the office during regular business hours. It's a joint effort with hundreds of other veterans at recruitment centers across the country in response to the Chattanooga, Tennessee, shootings last week in which a gunman killed five military members at recruitment facilities before being gunned down by police.

“It's more a response to the president not … letting at least there be an armed guard in the recruitment station,” Dean said.

The Chattanooga shooting victims weren't able to defend themselves because it's against the law for anyone to be armed with a firearm in a recruitment office, he said. A sign on the Deerfield Drive building warns residents to not bring a gun inside.

For Dean, standing guard not a political statement but a way to keep military personnel protected.

“That's our brothers in there, and they can't protect themselves,” he said. “We hope nothing happens here, but if it does, at least there's some kind of buffer between that person and them in there that can't protect themselves right now.”

While Dean sat, a person leaving Cozumel next door took a moment to ask Dean if he was guarding the recruitment office and thanked him. Dean said he's just as likely to be flipped off as he is thanked. Though Dean tends to remain inconspicuous, other veterans sometimes stand in plain view carrying rifles, he said.

“You kinda get that gun nut look going on,” Dean said.

Within the past few days, at least one veteran has stood outside armed with a rifle, he said.

Marc Woolsey has spent every day since Friday outside the office. He stopped by during work Wednesday to check on Dean before finishing his shift and returning in the afternoon.

“We gotta make a statement somehow, and the only way we can figure out how to do that … is be visible. Sooner or later, someone's gonna say, 'Why are these guys all over?'” Woolsey said.

Politicians already are beginning to respond. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Sen. Ron Johnson introduced bills Wednesday that would allow recruitment office employees to carry firearms or would require armed guards stationed at recruiting facilities.

Recruitment office employees declined comment on the situation, but Woolsey said they sometimes bring the veterans food, water and candy.

Any armed person heading toward the office is up to no good, and Dean and Woolsey are prepared to stop anyone in such a situation, they said.

“If I gotta wrestle them, if I gotta fight them or, if I had a gun, I would do what it takes,” Woolsey said. “If someone wants to go in there and do them harm, I'm here to do them harm.”

Such action likely isn't necessary, though. Just being a visible is enough of a deterrent, Woolsey said.

Dean disagreed. Anyone with enough motivation will take people out, whether they're military personnel or veterans acting as a volunteer guards.

Woolsey, who spends his free time riding his motorcycle, has put his bike away until the government allows military personnel to arm themselves while in recruitment offices.

“Somebody's gotta do it,” he said. “It's gotta start somewhere, don't it?”