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March 2004
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Outrage in the Guard

LastOneSpeaks has the story:

It seems 21 soldiers in Iowa, who served our country in Iraq, will be dishonorably discharged when they return home after their tour of duty for failing a drug test before they were shipped out.

This editorial in the Des Moines Register gives more details:

Twenty-one Iowa soldiers who tested positive for drugs last year were sent to the Middle East anyway. The Guard didn’t get the test results back before they left. Then the offending troops were under federal command and “gaps in regulations” allowed the soldiers to stay and fight. Apparently these troops were sober enough to do the job, because the military kept them month after month in the hot desert instead of sending them home.

The former drug use wasn’t a problem when the U.S. government had them out there dodging suicide bombers in Iraq.

Now circumstances have changed. The troops are coming home. Guard leaders are notifying commanders steps will be taken to discharge those soldiers with positive drug results “other than honorably.” It’s unclear exactly what this will mean for soldiers, but it makes one wonder what the policy-makers have been smoking.

Are we nuts? If someone’s going to go to a foreign land to fight and die for us, we should be offering them a range of safe and delightful mind-altering drugs for them to enjoy before they ship out. But no, we have zero tolerance (that’s for sure!) Hell, these kids aren’t even allowed to drink. I can picture it now…

All right soldiers. Your unit has been called up and you’re shipping out to Iraq, where you’ll be facing suicide bombers and snipers and horrible conditions. You may not return alive. Go home. Say goodbye to your mother and father. Go out for your last night of freedom and have… a Grape Nehi.

So we had some soldiers who succumbed to the temptation — hell they probably had an easier time (at their age) getting drugs than liquor — of drowning their sorrows or enjoying a fling before they left. And they were deemed capable of being our fighters — of supporting their fellow soldiers — of representing our nation. But now they have served their country, and now that it’s convenient, we toss them away like pieces of trash — without honor.

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