Friday, March 6, 2015

A US War Resister in Germany: A Matter of Conscience

a slight correction...Since the piece began with Andre thanking you for "a forum in which I can provide factual information on the case,"  I thought it might be helpful to correct some of the mis portrayal of who qualifies as a CO. 

Andre is right that the person needs to be opposed to any war they can imagine themselves fighting in.  (It is not a requirement that the person state whether they accept or reject the war that gave birth to the US.)  Someone who says they would fight in certain wars probably would be turned down.

Religious basis is not a separate way to get out.  No matter what religion the person still must be opposed to participation in all war.  Also, a person need not be religious at all as long as the moral principles that direct their life are comparable in strength to those held by religious people.  We deal with many atheist and agnostic applicants who still get out for CO.

The third issue is sincerity.  A person's lifestyle can help indicate their sincerity. Giving up paintball and combat video games can indicate sincerity of a conscientious objector but a person does not have to give up these things. I have worked with legitimate, sincere conscientious objectors who still bow hunt and nevertheless were discharged.  (There is more than one way to show sincerity).

I realize that for Andre conscientious objection didn't feel right and that is fine.  I just want to be careful that others who might well qualify don't mistakenly believe themselves ineligible because of Andre's mis characterization of the actual definition.  Anyone who even wonders whether they qualify can call the GI Rights Hotline 877-447-4487 to explore whether or not conscientious objection might be the right fit for them.  People who are having issues with the military often go online to learn about others with similar beliefs.  For others reading this interview with Andre it may be helpful to include a note of clarification so as not to unnecessarily limit the pool of future Conscientious Objection applicants.   


Steve W.

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