This last weekend, I had to decide exactly how radical I wanted to be. I was put in a situation where I stood between an AWOL soldier and the military police, who very much wanted to arrest him. If only I had a nickel for every time this happened, I’d have close to five cents. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a classic “What would you do?” moment, but it was interesting just the same, and I thought y’all might be interested in hearing about it.
A conscientious objector, who has been trying to get out of the Army for more than two years, was facing a deployment on Friday night. He had applied for CO status and was denied … twice. While he was in Iraq the first time, he refused to load his weapon even when on patrols. When he got back he filed a Habeas Corpus in federal court, challenging the ruling, and was denied … thrice (if you count appeals and temporary restraining orders). He made it very clear to his chain of command that he was not going to go back to Iraq under any circumstances. They hadn’t even gotten him to pick up his weapon for about a year. His commander, however, wasn’t taking no for an answer. So, Agustin made himself “unavailable” during the final deployment formation (aka he went for a drive at an undisclosed location). Saturday morning, he went to the military police station and turned himself in.
At that point, he expected to be court-martialed, given a dishonorable discharge, put in jail for 5-9 months, and then move on with his life. I’m not sure why he expected this to happen. Maybe because that’s what his military counselors, his lawyers, and current precedent suggested would happen. It was not to be, though. He was instead brought back to his house where his wife, two daughters, and I were hanging out, and he was told to get his gear. He explained that there was no point, because he wasn’t going to deploy. The First Sergeant was like, “Okay, whatever.”
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