Monday, June 9, 2008

"There are some soldiers who will do almost anything not to go back."

Soldiers are injuring themselves so they don't return to combat zones.
As an internist at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Stephanie Santos is used to finding odd things in people's stomachs. So last spring when a young man, identifying himself as an Iraq-bound soldier, said he had accidentally swallowed a pen at the bus station, she believed him. That is, until she found a second pen. It read 1-800-GREYHOUND. Last summer, according to published reports, a 20-year-old Bronx soldier paid a hit man $500 to shoot him in the knee on the day he was scheduled to return to Iraq. The year before that, a 24-year-old specialist from Washington state escaped a second tour of duty, according to his sister, by strapping on a backpack full of tools and leaping off the roof of his house, injuring his spine.
It's very catch-22.


  1. In Dave Barry Turns Fifty Barry writes about applying for a dispensation so that he wouldn't have to fight in Vietnam. There were twelve men in front of teh draft board that night, and Barry was the only one excused. Barry suspects that this was because #1 his father was a minister and #2 he had graduated from a Quaker college, so his claim of pacifism seemed more believeable.

    Barry claims (and I'll take him at his word) that he would have fought a necessary war, such as WW II, but that Vietnam simply didn't seem that vital.

    Is this an example of Baby Boomer selfishness? That we now put ourselves before a greater good? Is it post-Watergate cynicism that means we no longer trust our leaders to make choices which are just and right?

    I don't know. I do believe that the current war would be very different if we still had the Vietnam era draft.

  2. You're right, of course, about the war being different if we had a draft. I'm sure we would see a lot more protestations and similar things that happened in the Vietnam era.

    I think honoring your country and giving service trumps any self-preservation tactics. However, I understand where the self-preservation comes from. Is it crazy to seek to avoid going to a place in the world where you might be maimed/scarred/burned/etc. if you're not outright killed?