Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Equal Justice

These soldiers should ask their commander in chief what the penalty for going AWOL is:

Morale among some war-weary GIs in Iraq is so low that a growing number of soldiers - including some now home on R&R - are researching the consequences of going AWOL, according to a leading support group.

The GI Rights Hotline, a national soldiers' support service, has logged a 75 percent increase in calls in the last 12 weeks, with more than 100 of those calls from soldiers, or people on their behalf, asking about the penalties associated with going AWOL - "absent without leave" - according to volunteers and staffers who man the service.

Many of the calls have come from soldiers who are among those now on the first wave of 15-day authorized leaves that began almost two weeks ago. Some hotline callers have indicated they may not return, staffers said.

"What would happen if I just don't go back" to Iraq, one soldier asked a worker at a GI support-line center.

"I'm going to shoot myself in the foot," said another, referring to his solution for getting home.