A soldier’s perspective

I feel a duty to protect those who have been wronged and to stop unjust actions.

This is being written in response to the numerous ads, opinions and outright deceits perpetrated by the media and general public in regards to the military and Iraq. I know I don’t represent everyone, but I believe my experiences and relationships as a soldier and with others give me a more informed response to certain allegations.

First off, the “back-door draft.” This seems to be the buzz word lately regarding actions done to our soldiers. What it mostly refers to is the Individual Ready Reserve. This is a database where a soldier’s information is stored should the Army need to call him or her up. This is done mostly for particular specialties such as infantry, civil affairs and military police. This is not a draft whatsoever! Why? They are still serving their contract while in the reserve. For example, I signed up in what is called a “six by two.” That is, six years active service with the Guard, including part-time and active duty, and two years in the reserve. A soldier knows he or she will have to be in the reserve when signing his or her contract, so if he or she is called up, he or she is merely fulfilling his or her contract obligations. Fulfilling your contract is not a draft in any form – it is fulfilling your contract!

A little note on the supposed “real draft” President George W. Bush plans on having. I have heard him say, several times, that there won’t be a draft on his watch. A lot of political interests are using this issue as a scare tactic to push young people toward the other side. I am not trying to make this a political issue, but the seven people who have sponsored the two “draft” bills are not of the president’s party. Six sponsored HR 163, and the seventh sponsored S.89, two bills part of the Universal National Service Act of 2003.

I realize these recent call-ups and activations might be hard on many military families that have two or three children and have gone through several deployments. When the country is in great need, its soldiers must make extraordinary sacrifices. That is why I am volunteering to go to Iraq. That’s right! I’m trying to get over there. Even if all the reasons we went to war were wrong, admittedly some were so, I feel an obligation to help the citizens of Iraq. I don’t think that as Americans we will ever truly understand the oppression, torture and evil actions put on the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein’s will. I see going over there as a humanitarian mission to put together a country that has been marked by violence and ethnic genocide because of its brutal dictator. If I have to give my life so that people like Saddam do not control Iraq anymore, I am willing to do that. As a soldier, and a person, I feel a duty to protect those who have been wronged and to stop unjust actions when called to do so.

I know most of my brothers and sisters in arms think along the same lines. I have heard many people bicker about the morale of our troops going down. I can tell you from my experiences and people I have talked to, this is not the case. Morale has been very high since Sept. 11, 2001, when we were asked to defend our country and consequentially, protect the lives of others. Most soldiers do not give heart to the politics surrounding the war. The media doesn’t show all the rebuilding and humanitarian aid we’re giving to the Iraqi people. We see the change we’re making on the ground and are proud to be doing so.

Erik Tisthammer is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]