Un-Volunteering: Troops Improvise to Find Way OutWhy is this a story? Well, it can't be because the number of conscientious objectors is on the rise.
By MONICA DAVEY
The night before his Army unit was to meet to fly to Iraq, Pvt. Brandon Hughey, 19, simply left. He drove all night from Texas to Indiana, and on from there, with help from a Vietnam veteran he had met on the Internet, to disappear in Canada.
In Georgia, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, whose family ties to military service stretch back to the American Revolution, filed for conscientious-objector status and learned that he will face a court-martial in May for failing to report to his unit when it left for a second stint in Iraq. One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines - some just back from duty in Iraq, others facing a trip there soon - are seeking ways out.
Soldiers, their advocates and lawyers who specialize in military law say they have watched a few service members try ever more unlikely and desperate routes: taking drugs in the hope that they will be kept home after positive urine tests, for example; or seeking psychological or medical reasons to be declared nondeployable, including last-minute pregnancies. Specialist Marquise J. Roberts is accused of asking a relative in Philadelphia to shoot him in the leg so he would not have to return to war. (link)
Department of Defense officials say they have seen no increase in those counted as deserters since the war in Iraq began. Since October 2002, about 6,000 soldiers have abandoned their posts for at least 30 days and been counted as deserters. (A soldier who eventually returns to his unit is still counted as a deserter for the year.) The Marine Corps, which takes a snapshot of how many marines are missing at a given point in time, reported about 1,300 deserters in December, some of whom disappeared last year and others years earlier. The figures, Pentagon officials said, suggest that the deserter ranks have actually shrunk since the years just before Sept. 11, 2001 [my emphasis].So the fact is that a declining number of troops are going AWOL since 9/11.
And this makes front page news.
Only at the Times.