I just returned from vacation and had an opportunity to read the letter from Mrs. Beard about the unfortunate "stop loss" situation affecting those at Fort Stewart. As an Army spouse, I felt compelled to comment.
First of all, when one enlists in the United States Army, a contact is signed. On the second page of that contract there are caveats that one is asked to initial as an acknowledgement that they are aware, among other things, that:
"In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless my enlistment in ended sooner by the President of the United States" DD Form 4/1 Aug 1998 Part C, Section 9, subsection C
I’m truly sorry for their plight but I think that there’s more involved than "other people are getting out and my husband is stuck." There are many variables that I’m not sure she’s aware of. It could be that her husband is in a job that is considered highly critical and the needs of the Army will prevail in such a situation. The other soldiers she mentioned, who have been allowed to leave might have availed themselves of many possibilities or exceptions to policy. If someone has a lucrative job offer that would substantially improve their financial status, they might be allowed to separate from service. Other possibilities include special higher education offers and exceptionally difficult family situations. I sincerely don’t believe that her husband has been specifically persecuted by the Army.
As far as not thinking that it’s fair that soldiers are "threatened" with dishonorable discharge and loss of VA benefits for simply "wanting to be done serving his enlisted time"; those aren’t threats. What she is describing are the crystal clear consequences for going AWOL (Absent without Leave). I can sympathize with her in that the Army life is one of uncertainty and it is hard to make plans. I understand and I feel for her but none of this should be a surprise to either her or her soldier. I can surmise from her letter that he has enlisted since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom; so both of them should have been aware of the score. Stop losses are not a new tactic just recently employed by the military. I also believe that by now, the Beards should have the papers in hand confirming that the stop loss is indeed in effect. I hope that they realize that their dreams aren’t destroyed. They may be delayed and that can be extremely frustrating but those dreams shouldn’t be washed away completely.
She mentioned that her husband was threatened with UCMJ action for continuing his "fight" to get out of the Army. The only reason UCMJ action should be threatened for something like that is if he is threatening to: go AWOL, malinger or is being incredibly disrespectful in the manner in which he’s behaving. I know that soldiers who do any of that can get into a great deal of trouble. There are ways to go about things. If Mrs. Beard truly feels that her husband is being ill-treated she can initiate a Congressional investigation by writing a detailed letter to her congressional representative presenting the facts of the matter. Her soldier can go to the Inspector General and invoke his rights there as well.
In the end, I sincerely hope that Soldier Beard is allowed to ETS because I believe his issues could be detrimental to his platoon’s "Esprit De Corps", team cohesiveness and general morale.
Proud Army Spouse