Mar 21, 2005
Since October 2002, over 6,000 soldiers have officially been counted as deserters.
They aren't the only ones who are trying to get out of service in Iraq, though. There are reports of a large number of soldiers using a variety of ways to avoid being sent – or sent back – to Iraq. These ways include shooting themselves, fleeing to Canada, declaring conscientious objector status, taking drugs to fail a drug test, claiming back injuries and becoming pregnant. There are no numbers given for soldiers in these categories.
These men and women all volunteered for military service. And yet, some at least have turned their back on it.
One conscientious objector described the pressure placed on soldiers: "What I've seen is that soldiers are more afraid to make a stand for themselves than they are to go into combat." Up until now, that's been true. But the number now trying to get out of service is a signal of a much larger problem spreading through the U.S. armed forces in Iraq.
A soldier who fled to Canada explained the change he went through: "The thing is, yes, I did sign up for this. And, when I did, I had this vision that I'd be a good guy and defend my country. But killing people for something I don't believe in just to fulfill a contract just didn't seem right to me either."
Another conscientious objector summed it up this way: "I spent six months over there, and I came back and thought about it. What I know is that it's inhumane. It's turning 18-year-old men and women into soulless people."