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AWOL Soldiers Book

A friend of mine is an attorney who helps soldiers with discharges. He is writing a book on helping AWOL soldiers. Check it out here:

Help AWOL Soldiers Be Free

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New Rules on PTSD

I know it’s a few months after the fact, but if you hadn’t heard – they’ve relaxed the rules on claiming post traumatic stress. The new rules recognize you can get screwed up even if you don’t have direct contact with an enemy. Of course the new rule is also it doesn’t count if you get a diagnosis from a civilian psychologist… only VA diagnosis with work. Read more here:

http://www.military.com/news/article/new-ptsd-rules-relax-definition.html

http://www.vawatchdog.org/10/nf10/nfjul10/nf071210-1.htm

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Suicides and Personality Disorders in the Military

Here’s an article stating that even though 761 soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning in 2001, 817 have killed themselves.

Is The Army Losing Its War On Suicide?

There’s talk in that article of broken relationships and a deployment tempo that’s too high but the real issue is that we’re fighting wars that no one believes in. Unless you’re a sociopath, risking your life and being put in a situation where you might have to kill someone will make you crazy. That’s crazy as in PTSD, not a personality disorder.

And here’s another article detailing the military’s misuse of the personality disorder diagnosis to expedite separations and deny treating PTSD and sometimes even actual physical injury. The article says that the military tries to recoup signing bonuses which is no longer true. I was sent a letter from them maybe a year or two ago saying that policy had changed and they’d stop trying to collect.

Disposable Soldiers

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Veterans Day 2009

Today is Veteran’s Day.

In a club I belong to, we will be asked to stand up and spend 20 seconds talking about a veteran we want to honor.

Since I am a veteran, I have mixed feelings about this. When I got out of the military back in 2005, I was ashamed at having been a part of it. Once you begin to understand the absolute ruin our military is wrecking on many other countries, it’s hard to be proud to be an American and especially if you serve in the armed forces.

I remembered something I read about Rudyard Kipling who wrote one of the most well known poems on what it means to be a man, “If.” Turns out that Kipling never served in the military but was a huge supporter of British imperialism. He was so enthusiastic about it that he encouraged his only son to join the army and fight in The Great War (WWI).

His son was killed in his first battle. In his grief, Kipling wrote:

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

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No Payback For Personality Disorders

A ruling of the Office of the Army (G1) has canceled whatever regulation they had that said they were supposed to recoup any paid enlistment bonus if you separate due to a personality disorder.

In other words, if you get out through a personality disorder, they won’t try to get your enlistment bonus back.

Seems only fair given it’s the Army that has to be the one to initiate it. In the Army’s eyes, it’s a temporary medical disability. It means you’re too disabled to serve in the military but not disabled enough for them to take care of you after they separate you. Convenient.

So if you were worried about paying back a signing bonus to go for this kind of discharge, you can rest easy.

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Training and Beliefs

Someone recently asked to see what I wrote for my CO application essay. I’d write it differently today but here’s what I wrote in 2005 when I was getting out.

B. Training and Belief

1. A description of the nature of the belief which requires the applicant to seek separation from the military service or assignment to non-combatant training and duty for reasons of conscience.

I am seeking separation from the military service as I’m already assigned a “noncombatant” job as a medic.

I realize that what follows will likely be deemed as radical, adversarial and possibly even subversive. I want to make it clear that this is an objection by my conscience only. Everyone who lives by their own conscience according to what they believe is right can be right in their own eyes until they learn otherwise as far as I’m concerned. My intent therefore is not to say that any who don’t agree with me are wrong. If I am able to convince others of my position through open dialog though, then so be it. Truth will eventually win out and we’ll all have to adjust our beliefs in the end anyway.

The nature of my belief is that I now closely believe in libertarian principles of live and let live. I believe in the natural right of self defense for the individual or armed militia. I no longer recognize as morally defensible the practice of governments making war on other peoples on behalf of their citizens regardless of majority elected legitimization. States and nations should not be in the business of conducting war in my opinion.

I am no longer an adherent of American Civil Religion. That’s the religion that teaches that American is morally, economically, militarily, ideologically and in many other ways superior to all the other countries in the world. It teaches that we are the harbingers of freedom and democracy as if we have it all figured out and we are entitled to go fix everyone else in the world. And while we’re doing all this, we’re letting those who love security and hate other people’s freedoms dismantle what remaining civil liberties we possess at home. The fundamental difference in belief between capitalism and socialism is the belief that people are intelligent, moral and responsible enough to act in their own and others’ best interests. The socialist doesn’t believe this and so the law is used in an attempt to regulate morality, economy, and a host of other things that have always proven themselves unmanageable. It makes responsible citizens criminals.

I’ve also come to believe that democracy leads to socialism which leads to communism. Democracy long term is entirely incompatible with capitalism and freedom. In a democracy, citizens can only vote to give themselves more benefits out of the money stolen from them through taxation. It’s a no win situation. More benefits lead to more regulation, injustice, and less freedom overall. Democracy is even inferior to monarchy in some respects. In a monarchy, the king owns the government and has some incentive in taking care to preserve that government and its citizens. A president in a democracy does not own the government. He is a temporary steward and often can only act in the interests of the powers that helped bring him to power. He has little motivation to preserve the freedoms of the citizens of the state other than the realization by those citizens hamper his future actions. What can he do but expand the government and what can that lead to but a loss of freedom?

This question is also addressed in context in the next answer.

2. An explanation as to how his beliefs changed or developed, to include an explanation as to what factors (how, when and from whom or from what source training received and belief acquired) caused the change in or development of conscientious objection beliefs

I joined because I love truth, freedom and justice. The idea of military service began to grow in my mind after the September 11 attacks as a way to fight terrorism. In addition, I began to shift my reading focus to books focusing on military history, politics, terrorism, liberty, and spirituality (see book list at end). This lead me to libertarian though such as Thomas Jefferson who said governments who govern best govern least. I found that the health of the state was war. I learned that the history of western civilization could be summed up in that war made the state and the state made war. I learned that most everything I’d been taught about the history of warfare in the US was propaganda and that the only two wars in our history that could be considered truly just were the American Revolution and the Southern War for Independence both of which were fought for the same reasons by the Colonists and Southerners respectively. In almost every other war, the US acted as a belligerent and often entered wars on pretext. I learned that there are only two kinds of government services- the kind we can do without today and the kind we can do without tomorrow. There are historical and current examples of every facet of the government being provided for by private enterprise. I learned that during every war, Americans have lost a substantial amount of the freedoms they enjoyed beforehand. I learned that welfare effectively enslaves people and that the military operates in a similar fashion which I address later on. I learned that the military had exempted itself from the requirement for informed consent for medical experimentation. I realized that patriotism does not equal a love of freedom. In effect, I learned that war and the resultant ever expanding state is the enemy of truth, freedom, and justice regardless of any noble intentions of its participants. It’s not then that I think the military is ineffective or incompetent. I just belief the use of the military causes more long term problems than perceived short term solutions. It doesn’t work for me to try to separate my military service from politics. Even Clausewitz said military action was an extension of politics. The problem is that the further you centralize power as we have done since our founding, the less freedom the individual has. Regardless of a president being aware of and even warning against the influence of the military industrial complex or any other special interest group as Eisenhower did, money still puts people in power and unduly influences their decisions. Bush has yet to account for how Haliburton received a no-bid contract. Destroying and rebuilding nations is big business. Violence begets violence. What might our country have been like had it not been founded in blood?

In January 2005 I went from block leave straight to Airborne school. I went from enjoying time with the people I love to being number 446 and it was a bit of a shock. It caused me to explore methods of getting out as the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing in my military service was increasing over time. I learned about conscientious objection and after studying it decided that I could not apply because I didn’t object to all forms of war- I did not object to just war. Unfortunately I didn’t believe the US had fought any just wars since the War for Southern Independence. And then I was already in a non-combatant job so I figured there was no way for me to do it. I then considered refusing to eat until I was discharged but I decided that the time for such an extreme measure had not yet arrived. In February 2005, my previous credit became an issue with regard to a security clearance still being processed from OCS in the TANG. I read the Army regulation on Indebtedness in the Military and realized that if I only refused to work on resolving my debts, that I could receive an administrative separation that way. In March 2005 at our SRP, the Chaplin asked if we were currently or had ever considered becoming a conscientious objector. I told him I had and he asked if I was going to do it so I told him probably not for the reasons I outlined above. But at this point I was seriously considering ways to get out because of the internal conflict I was feeling in the costs of war. So I revisited the requirements of becoming a conscientious objector and realized that in reevaluating the criteria and the two just wars we’ve had, that I would have objected to those wars too and thus I objected to all forms of war. That’s the only way I can explain it. It was all the books I read. I haven’t had friends or family that understand or support my position.

Even film has influenced me to a degree. Recently I watched “The Nazi Officer’s Wife” and “Europa, Europa” which were true stories of Jews who ended up supporting Nazi Germany as they tried to avoid extermination by pretending to be Germans. I found myself relating to the plight of the Jews in that they were living lies. In their cases though, they did not have readily available other recourses to pursue and the alternatives for them was death. And then of course I don’t consider the US to be on equal footing morally with Nazi Germany either. I have also viewed documentaries on bombing Hiroshima which was entirely unjustified. Japan had already surrendered under the same terms that we eventually accepted when we bombed them. No American lives were saved by that action. Bin Laden has said his goal in bombing the World Trade Center was to kill as many people as we killed in Japan with our atomic bombs. Fortunately for us he was pretty far from getting his 100,000.

I’ve also come to recognize the military as a form of welfare and socialism which run counter to freedom. My working definition of welfare is taking money from the people who earn it to take care of the people who don’t. Many politicians practice this as well. All you have to do is whatever you’re told to do and you’ll have all your physical needs provided for. Then they’ll even provide you with a Chaplin of your preferred religious preference to tell you that what you’re doing is good and right. The military has historically been an agent of social change as well. How hard is it to impose socialism on a country where many of its citizens have already lived through such a structure in the military? Wherever the military and war has increased, family has decreased. What role does a father need to play if the military provides for all the needs of the dependents? And that’s not even beginning to examine the effects of an absent father on a child’s upbringing or a marriage.

I consider the IRS to be a terrorist organization as it terrorizes the American people. This I have been learning since 1999. There are numerous ways to skin this cat and I think the reason that Bush is now talking about a flat sales tax is because everyone is starting to figure this out. It is unconstitutional for the government to directly tax incomes. The 16th amendment which was purported to grant the government the power to tax was never legally ratified by the States. The outgoing Secretary of State (I believe) at the time just misinformed the American people that this new amendment had in fact passed. Even then, the Supreme Court later ruled that this law conferred no new power of taxation. The IRS had no choice but to write a convoluted series of rules that are incomprehensible to the average American and use double speak to convince people that voluntary compliance somehow establishes a requirement to file.

Also moderately influencing my decision is America’s posture toward Israel. If ever there were a just war fought, Israel is now fighting one. America is playing with fire in pushing for a two-state solution. How can we claim to be fighting terrorism when we tell Israel to make peace and allow a group of voluntarily displaced Arab people who aspired to kill Israelis to have their own state? This seems the pinnacle of hypocrisy to please our Arab “allies.” And how then can we consider Saudi Arabia to be an ally when they export the ideological foundation of terrorism? Perhaps we would have been better off if we had let Saddam have Saudi Arabia after Kuwait before the first Gulf War. We gave him weapons to fight Iran and then we told him he couldn’t use them. Maybe Bin Laden would have attacked Iraq instead as an imperialistic invader.

3. An explanation as to when these beliefs became incompatible with military service, and why.

Once I began to appreciate that I was supporting the very thing that destroyed the values I so strongly believed in, I realized I had to terminate my military service. I’m living a lie by continuing my service beyond what’s required for me to get out. It’s been an evolving process since I joined almost three years ago. Some days are better than others. Following the anthrax vaccine controversy and facing a possible mandatory experimental vaccine helped to influence me in October 2004. Watching a young girl jump to her death at Airborne school in January 2005 helped influence me. Being treated as a juvenile delinquent has influenced me. Getting to know soldiers and their motivations have influenced me. Pretty much I hate everything about being in the military aside from the regular paycheck and I can’t stay for that reason alone. If I’d joined as a mercenary just to do a job, that would have been different. All of the frustrations of such a large bureaucracy were tolerable to me when I subscribed to civil religion.

4. An explanation as to the circumstances, if any, under which the applicant believes in the use of force, and to what extent, under any foreseeable circumstances.

I believe in the use of force commensurate with the situation in self defense against an intruder or invading force when all other options have been reasonably exhausted. And even then, for me to be in the military would be a waste. If we were invaded, there would be more productive avenues of resistance for me.

5. An explanation as to how the applicant’s daily life style has changed as a result of his beliefs and what future actions he plans to continue to support his beliefs.

My life has changed in that I’ve lost interest in advancing any form of military career. Someone with my background should attend OCS and become an officer. I would have made a good officer. If I’d gone straight to OCS instead of or after AIT I might have put off the study that’s led me to my current conclusions. I no longer want to be an officer nor do I have any interest in even being promoted as an NCO. Out of AIT I had wanted to pursue Special Force but I don’t want to do that either. The only thing that has excited me since I arrived in Italy was the prospect of getting out of the military and becoming a teacher. I wake up every morning hating being here in the military and fighting off anxiety and despair at where I’ve arrived in life. I’ve struggled with debating my parents and others about what commitment means and when you can consider the other side in breach of the original agreement and understanding. I’ve lost interest in performing to standard in physical training. The only thing that has sustained me and helped me retain my sanity is my prayer life. When I went home on block leave people would ask how I liked the military and all I could answer was that I liked traveling in Italy.

I plan to continue to support my beliefs by joining the Free State Project in New Hampshire (www.freestateproject.org). I plan to always endeavor to promote private ownership and enterprise over government waste. I also plan to move all of my money and the ownership of any assets that I acquire in the future offshore so that it is no longer subject to support any war effort or other government programs without my consent. I plan to continue to devote myself to study and promotion of the ideals of freedom. I think America can be great again. Freedom works. It works by example though, not through external coercion.

My motivations for joining the military were that I loved freedom and hated terrorism. Thus at the beginning my motivation was love. Now I don’t care and have to use different coping mechanisms to forget that I’m aiding in the destruction of that which I believe in and love. Before, I didn’t fear punishment because I loved freedom. Now I don’t fear punishment because I don’t care knowing I have no future in the military. My personal ethic though prevents me from not doing the best at whatever I am currently doing. So for the duration of this process, I intend to do my best for the Army. The smaller picture is that we’re helping primarily Afghans with our medical skills so I object to that less than I would going into outright combat.

6. An explanation as to what in applicant’s opinion most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of his beliefs which gave rise to his claim.

In studying Army regulations on indebtedness, it has come to my attention that I could be separated from the military through simply refusing to continue to resolve my outstanding debts. That way would likely be much faster than the route I’ve chosen. The reason I’ve chosen this route is that I want to be on the record as a conscientious objector. If I have to find another way out, I will. The bottom line is that I can’t support warfare in any form (not even conserving the fighting force). It runs counter to my deepest values of love and freedom. I am an instrument of government expansion consuming the real wealth of productive Americans. I feel like I’m selling my soul for a meager paycheck. I’m living a lie and it’s tearing me up inside.

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If It’s Not Just War, Nothing About It Can Be Justified

A new book is out called, “Killing in War.”

It makes some really interesting arguments. He even goes so far as to say that if you’re engaged in an unjustified war, nothing you do in it – including anything done in self defense – can be justified.

A full review is posted here on the Mises Institute blog:

http://mises.org/story/3509

So this is another great argument for a conscientious objector to make. Remember of course that you can’t pick and choose the wars you object to. As long as you can explain that no war can be justified, you’re golden.

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What To Do Afterward

Once you start to figure out what the industrial-military-pharma-etc complex is all about, you may find that you don’t want to be a slave to it.

How can you not be though when it’s mandated by the government?

Some people try to change things by volunteering, seeking political office, starting a non-profit or writing a book. While those are all good things to do, they don’t protect you as an individual should the government machine decide it’s time to eat you.

There’s a book that just came out that I feel is essential to anyone wanting to be a sovereign individual. The author is interviewed here as well as a few chapters posted. It’s a truly fascinating read.

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/03/03/how-to-be-jason-bourne-multiple-passports-swiss-banking-and-crossing-borders/

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A Testimonial

I’ve been working on other projects and haven’t gotten around to posting anything for a while as you can see.

I’ve still been available to give advice to anyone who emailed me asking for help. Usually once people get the help they can get from me, I never hear from them again. One soldier did write back and said I could quote him. Here’s what he wrote:

I just wanted to say thanks, because of you, I went forth with my decision about the military and I just picked my orders today and separation packet. I go home 17 March 09 with an Honorable Discharge with an chapter 5-13 * I think it is and it’s for other mental something* lol, but anyways thank you sooo much and your website has been a VERY useful tool. Thanks again sooooo much!

And when I asked if I could quote him, he wrote:

Feel free to quote me, I really appreciate everything you’re doing. It IS possible, people just need to make up there mind 100% and don’t back down when it comes down to doing it, I’m now a “former Airborne Information Technology Specialist aka 25B”. If they want out, you have the free ticket or key, they just got to set forth the effort to make it happen. once again thanks man, and yes please feel free to do so. Keep up the EXCELLENT work!

So yes, you can do it. I did it. He did it. People are getting out all the time.

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My Crazy Letter

I was throwing out some old papers and found the psychologist’s assessment that was used to discharge me from the Army. It was DA FORM 3822-R, “Report of Mental Status Evaluation.” You can find it if you Google it.

This is how it was filled out:

  1. Request a mental status evaluation for the above named soldier who is being considered for discharge because of: [boxes checked] “Personality Disorder” and “Other (See Remarks)”
  2. Behavior: Normal
  3. Level of Alertness: Fully Alert
  4. Level of Orientation: Fully Oriented
  5. Mood or Effect: Unremarkable
  6. Thinking Process: Clear
  7. Thought Content: Normal
  8. Memory: Good
  9. In My Opinion, This Soldier: Has the mental capacity to understand and participate in the proceedings, was mentally responsible, meets the retention requirements of Chapter 3, AR 40-501, Other (See remarks)

REMARKS [SM means Service Member]:

  1. SM was evaluated at Brigade Mental Health Service (BMHS) as directed by command.
  2. SM meets DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Personality Disorder NOS. Despite counseling and support from his command, it is likely that the SM will continue to have problems with social and occupational functioning. The SM manifests a long-standing disorder of character, behavior and adaptability that is of such severity so as to preclude further military service. Due to these life-long patterns of maladaptive responses to routine stress, the Service member may become potentially dangerous to self/others in the future.
  3. Nevertheless, SM meets retention requirements of Chapter 3, AR 40-501 and does not warrant disposition through medical channels. In other words, the soldier does not meet criteria for MEB/PEB.
  4. Therefore it is recommended that SM’s command consider expeditious administrative separation under AR 635-200, chapter 5-13. If the Service member’s commanding officer, in turn, declines to follow the recommendation (s) herein, the Service member’s commanding officer shall forward a memorandum to his or her commanding officer within two business days explaining the decision to retain the Service member against medical advice (DoD Directive 6490.1 Chapter D-8a).
  5. BMHS recommends no access to weapons for the SM.
  6. POC is the undersigned at…

During our conversation, I recommended a book on meditation to the Captain. Besides that, this was a pretty substantial exaggeration. Of course I was an E4 and I wasn’t about to challenge the decision of an O3 especially since this seemed like the best for everyone.

If you look up personality disorders, you’ll see that there are 10 kinds. I didn’t fit any of them so he made up one and called it “Other than specified.”

The thing that bothered me most about the process was that two reasonable, intelligent people could sit across from each other and have a meaningful conversation and then say such harsh things afterward. No doubt that’s the nature of government and it’s quixotic goals.

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