Army desertions display growing problem

Army desertion rate high

The number of Army deserters this year has increased by 80 percent since 2003, when the war in Iraq began. These statistics, which came out last week, show how desperate some soldiers are to end their service even when they volunteer for it.

Although the number of deserters is still significantly lower than during the Vietnam War, when people were drafted into the military, it is the highest rate since 1980.

For the past several years, the military has been stretched thin and soldiers’ already-lengthy terms continue to be extended to support combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This fiscal year, which ended in September, 4,698 soldiers left the military for more than 30 days and were consequently discharged as deserters. Last year 3,301 soldiers deserted the Army. That equates to about nine soldiers out of 1,000 who left this year, compared to seven of every 1,000 last year.

An Associated Press search found that the military typically does little to try to find people who leave it. Deserters are more likely “given less-than-honorable discharges” and are rarely prosecuted, according to the Associated Press article.

People who want to end their service will most likely find a way to do so before their enlistment contract expires. The four ways to leave the Army include if soldiers are unable to meet physical fitness requirements, are unable to adapt to the military, under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy say they are gay, or go away without leave.

However, if the military is going to continue to extend tours of duty or provide only brief breaks from the war, it should in turn provide greater incentives for people in the military to continue their service.

The military asks soldiers to sacrifice time with their loved ones and sometimes their own lives. It should in turn reward and respect the people who chose to do so, rather than ask them to commit even more years of their life to combat. This might then be an incentive for soldiers to continue service and maybe even entice more people to enlist.

Staff Editorial Minnesota Daily University of Minnesota U-Wire