Sunday, April 20, 2008


With my husband pursuing entering the Army, we wanted to see this film. I didn't originally think this vey prudent. I am prone to tears as of late, and visual imagery of patriotism and/or war seem to compound this. The day is rapidly approaching when I will no longer be just an observer. This will ultimately impact my life grossly.
Unable to obtain a babysitter, we watched the film online (is it illegal to watch or just to upload???) Just John and I cuddled up with the laptop. I must say the film would most definitely be enjoyable for someone not potentially affected by the actual policy. It was enjoyable if I detached myself from the current circumstances of my life. I cried a little, especially at the imagery of a military funeral. But is it because of the moving moment of the film, or just simply that military funerals have always done this to me, long before I married a veteran or that same veteran I married decided he wanted to reenlist?
And okay, I must admit, the guys in the film were HOT. You got me there!
But I have to say it: Stop-Loss pissed me off.
At the risk of not sounding politically correct or in-tune with our men and women in uniform, I am sticking with that statement. It seems tawdry to go to a theater on a date and buy your popcorn and Sno-Caps and sit and watch the plight of our troops on the big screen like it is there for our amusement, first of all. Yet recently watching Lions for Lambs on dvd did not have this effect on me. It may be because L for L prompted healthy discussion and political debate here in my house.
I felt bad that I had this reaction to Stop-loss, so I started doing some internet research on the policy. I was sort of hoping to find some obscure fact about the practice that I had not before become aware. I didn't.
I believe that the film did bring some things to light that desperately needed to be. Primarily the PTSD that is plaguing our men as they return from war. And that stop loss is real. But in the film, all of the men returning are suffering from it. I know the statistics of PTSD are staggering, but not all-encompassing. And is the reaction of the average Soldier returning from Iraq to go AWOL??? The film made this look so easy. You just find someone to help you with fake IDs and cross a border. When the main character was standing at the Mexican border, I was hoping he did not cross it. Of course the film didn't load correctlly on the computer, and it stopped at this point, so I originally didn't get to see the real ending and was really pissed off. I just thought that would portray these men as cowardly, and send the wrong message to the troops.
So what is my reaction to the actual practice of Stop-Loss? Yes, it sucks. But almost everyone realizes when you sign a contract to serve, you are actually committing to several years after your active service ends known as Inactive Ready Reserves. John was IRR when the war in Iraq started. During this time, you can be called back to active service. Its just a part of military service. Would it really be better to reach the end of an active service term and return to civilian life only to be called back again? Yet there isn't any controversy over troops being recalled to active duty from IRR.
This leads me to a familiar topic: Read that contract you sign, people! You cannot expect to recieve money for college, pay, medical benefits, reenlistment/ enlistment bonuses, room and board, etc, without catches and loopholes. If you can live with the loopholes, like John can, sign the papers. If not, walk away. I read in an article while doing some online reading on the issue the following quote:
"....In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until sixth month after the war ends, unless my enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States..." Well, doesn't that about sum it up? We are in war. Two of them simultaneously, to be exact. If you signed the papers, you signed the papers. I'm sorry for them and their families. My family will be among them soon. But we are doing so with the knowledge that this could very well happen to John.
Two National Guardsmen sued over this, and it was shot down. They said their recruiters deceived them by not telling them about stop-loss. I did not know a recruiter was responsible for knowing every tiny detail about everything related to the military. That is why the contract is printed. They should have read it more carefully. I am glad a judge shot their claim down.
We are at war. We need troops, and the Army is under-performing in the task of getting new bodies to enlist. Its either stop-loss or a draft in order to keep the man-power needed to do the job. At least stop-loss is utilizing troops who are already committed and volunteered.

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