Newsflash: the military is not a convenient form of welfare. If you’re going to join up you’re going to have to serve stateside, downrange or wherever Uncle Sam sends you.
This probably doesn’t come as a shock to most of you. But it sounds like it might have been to one Army Private Second Class and his family newly stationed at Fort Hood.
In one of the most baffling stories of deployment avoidance I’ve read recently, PV2 Christopher Munoz, fresh out of basic training, has filed as a “conscientious objector” and refused to deploy.
PV2 Christopher Munoz finished basic training in April, PCSed to Fort Hood and in short order learned he was soon heading to Afghanistan. From his wife, Breanna, in this story:
“After he got out of basic, once I was able to start talking to him again, he just seemed really different and had a different attitude about the army and everything versus when he went in, and, once he got here, we found out that he was going to be deployed and everything just kind of got more real, and he just felt like he couldn’t do it,” Breanna said.
The conscientious objector directive, which you can read here, is for servicemembers who, after they join up, develop some sort of “firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation of war in any form or the bearing of arms” thanks to religious training or moral or ethical beliefs. They can file as an objector to all military service and get out, or as an objector to fighting alone, and stay in the rear.
Munoz was ordered to show-up at his unit with his gear for deployment. He came as ordered, but left his gear at home and told his command that participating conflicted with his conscience, according to this story. As a result his command reassigned him to the rear while a decision on his objector application is being made.
I can’t know Munozs’ motives for certain. Maybe he really did wake-up one morning during Basic Training and suddenly realize that he had real moral objections to military service.
But I find that hard to believe. I find it hard to believe that after more than 10 years of war any American who makes it into a recruiter’s office to sign on the dotted line doesn’t have some idea about what they are getting into. At the very least they must know that the Army deploys to fight wars and that, right now, that war is in Afghanistan. They must know they carry guns. They must be smarter than Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin and know that the Army doesn’t necessarily come with a condo.
Munoz likely learned that he could become a conscientious objector through a flyer from “Our Lives Our Rights” campaign after his arrival at Fort Hood. That organization started a push in April to spread the good news of objection. From their site:
On April 1st, the Our Lives Our Rights campaign deployed veterans and active-duty soldiers to Fort Hood, TX, ahead of an impending deployment to Afghanistan with the message “You don’t have to go!”
OLOR organizers distributed thousands of leaflets on and off base, conducted high-profile visibility actions, and was covered in the local press.
As a result of this bold outreach campaign, one soldier at Fort Hood who is set to deploy to Afghanistan who was conflicted about his participation in the war saw that there was support and contacted Our Lives Our Rights.
Munoz has been provided counsel by the legal director of the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research, an organization that last year nominated PFC Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize. Manning is accused of leaking government secrets and is on trial for aiding the enemy, among other charges.
More from Munoz’s wife (said prior to his command’s decision to keep him stateside):
“If he does end up coming home during the deployment, it kind of brings awareness to the other soldiers who don’t want to go or who also have the same war inside them to be able to come forward and actually say it, and do something about it,” Breanna said.
We haven’t heard from Munoz, likely because he is not permitted to talk about it publicly.
What really rubs me the wrong way about this whole thing is tied specifically to his wife’s statements. That “… it kind of brings awareness to the other soldiers who don’t want to go …” and “… we found out that he was going to be deployed and everything just kind of got more real, and he just felt like he couldn’t do it.”
To me that sounds like cold feet. That sounds like post-Basic training regret. That sounds like they thought the military would be an easy paycheck, a simple way to find a job, a walk in the park.
But military life isn’t those things. For the servicemember joining the military means deploying. For the spouse agreeing to the military means sacrifice.
And for the whole family military life comes down to one word: service.
How can you not know that before you sign-up?
If Munoz didn’t want to serve maybe he should not have gotten in to start with. Realizing after deployment that you morally object to war is one thing. Deciding four months out of basic training that you suddenly are against all wars is something completely different.