Since the Iraq Invasion in 2003, the number of U.S. servicemen, predominately from the Army, have made the personal decision to desert their posts for whatever reason, I am one of them. I deserted from Fort Drum, NY in December of 2007.
I have been very open about this fact to friends and family, and the first question is usually what does that mean you deserted. I went AWOL (absent without leave) for more than 30 days. The second question is, why? To answer this first ask yourself what goes into your life decisions? It is a complicated choice with many different variables and moral exchanges.
It is no secret the our nation’s reasoning for going into Iraq were flawed at best. This weighed heavily upon my conscious as for my wanting for the credibility of the institution and country I had volunteered to serve had begun working to corrupt the basic American altruism. The violation of not just one but several international laws and long-standing practices is not to be taken lightly. As to the fates of other deserters who have used this same argument to help convey their want of asylum in Canada, and the High Courts ruling that soldiers do not own the responsibility for the actions of an administration or chain of command. In rebuttal, then what of Abu Ghraib, where soldiers whose only mistake was following orders or simply being witness to such violations received court martials. Were they not held responsible? Responsibility is the cornerstone of the military and if the policy is in the wrong then so are we all. Was this not the basis for the United Kingdom’s Iraq Inquiry to hold some accountability and to hold former office holders to answer? No one in the United States was held to this standard so for lack of a better term “the shit ran downhill” upon us personnel, both officer and enlisted, who cared to give it the thought and concern it so desperately required. Unfortunately for myself, an officer can resign, with not much left at the disposal of the enlisted. The Command should, and has the right and duty to challenge any order that is unlawful to the best interest of all its servicepeople.
For those who think the military is some plaything, there are repercussions to such a blatant disregard for the rule of law. I am only one of many.
There are other reasons for my personal desertion, one involving a rape I was witness to and the lack of an adequate response due to military policy on the subject. Some have asked if my sexual orientation ever came into play. No, I was “out” to almost everyone with little fanfare, but I could have chaptered out if I had wanted to. So it was a form of protest. I love the military and have a profound appreciation of what they taught me, but to them “integrity” and “honor” are not just mere words. It was singularly the hardest decision I have ever had to make, but I am proud of it. I know not everyone respects or understands my viewpoint on this matter, but here I stand, open and honest.
If you any questions please ask.
Climb the Mountain!