Army Cracks Down on Deserters
The Army is cracking down on deserters. Many of them have already been to Iraq or Afghanistan, and are just stressed out.
“They are scraping to get people to go back, and people are worn out,” said Dr. Thomas Grieger, a senior Navy psychiatrist. Though there are no current studies to show how combat stress affects desertion rates, Dr. Grieger cited several examples of soldiers absconding or refusing to return to Iraq because of psychiatric reasons brought on by wartime deployments.
At an Army base in Alaska last year, for example, “there was one guy who literally chopped off his trigger finger with an axe to prevent his deployment,” Dr. Grieger said in an interview.
Others may not have been true volunteers in the first place, but a result of high-pressure tactics and decreased enlistment standards:
Army studies and interviews also suggest a link between the rising rate of desertions and the expanding use of moral waivers to recruit people with poor academic records and low-level criminal convictions. At least 1 in 10 deserters surveyed after returning to the Army from 2002 to mid-2004 required a waiver to enter the service, a report by the Army Research Institute found.
“We’re enlisting more dropouts, people with more law violations, lower test scores, more moral issues,” said a senior noncommissioned officer involved in Army personnel and recruiting. “We’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get people to join.” (Army officials agreed to discuss the issue on the condition that they not be quoted by name.)
More and more, and while the Army denies it, an underlying reason for the increase seems to be PTSD:
With the Iraq war in its fifth year, a new subset of deserter is emerging, military doctors and lawyers said: accomplished soldiers who abscond reluctantly, as a result of severe emotional trauma from their battle experiences.
The Army's spin: Oh, they just are undergoing some personal crisis, like a spouse threatening to leave or a custody battle.
I'm not buying the Army's rationale. I'll go with the shrinks and the lawyers. These soldiers signed up because the Administration told them they were going to take out a despot, eliminate his weapons of mass destruction and help the Iraqi people establish a democracy. Saddam is gone, there were no weapons of mass destruction, and all that remains is a civil war between different factions of Iraqis.
Talk about a bait and switch, no wonder they want out.
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