Not directly related to military recruitment per se, but a striking story. I don’t think most recruiters are honest about how the military treats conscientious objectors.
A veteran who spent 14 months in prison for filing a conscientious objector application against redeployment to Iraq has spoken out against the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence by President Bush.
“I was imprisoned for 14 months after trying to apply for conscientious objector status after seeing the reality of the Iraq war,” Kevin Benderman, who had to serve his sentence at a prison 3,000 miles from home, said.
Kevin Benderman had served as an army mechanic for 10 years when he developed moral and religious objections to the war in Iraq, after serving there in 2003, and refused to deploy there again. After seeing scenes of devastation in Iraq, and through his readings of both the Bible and the Qu’ran, Kevin Benderman filed an application for conscientious objector status on 28 December 2004.
He was then sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment at a court martial.
“Homes were bombed, people lived in mud huts and drank water from the mud puddles,” Benderman wrote in his conscientious objector application. “I could not ignore the little girl standing by the side of the road with her mother. Her arm was burned to her shoulder, and she cried in pain. To be aware of the mass graves throughout the area that we were in, full of bodies of women and children and men, all who had died by the hand of war, maybe not our war, but war.”
His wife Monica Benderman, who organized a campaign to obtain her husbands released, also hit out at Bush’s action.
“Parole was denied to Kevin because he had not been ‘sufficiently rehabilitated.'”, she said. “What were they rehabilitating him from? Not wanting to go to war. During those 14 months Kevin would be sitting in a plastic chair getting shouted at; he was denied his mail at times, they tried to prevent his talking to his attorney and our congressperson. Meanwhile, Libby — who covered up the truth on issues of war that affect the lives of people like my husband — is going to walk away.”
The couple are currently helping America ‘s veterans through their new organization, Benderman’s Bridge.
President Bush commuted Vice President Cheney’s former Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence saying “I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.”
Libby was convicted in federal court for obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury in the CIA leak grand jury investigation into the “Plame affair”, and sentenced to 30 months in prison.