2007-08-03 / Editorial/Opinion

'Morals Waivers'Are Not Good For The Military, Nor Do They Bode Well For Our Communities

Your new "Army of One," might well be a criminal. Unable to find the necessary number of recruits to fill its ranks, the Army has started taking a large number of men and women with criminal records. The military calls the program "Moral Waivers." We are not talking about minor drug busts or criminal mischief. We are talking about young people who have burned down homes, robbed people at gunpoint, raped and assaulted their peers. An Army spokesperson interviewed on CNN last week said that the military always 'gave people a second chance at life," and that taking criminals is perfectly normal, business as usual. That statement is disingenuous, because for many years, the all-volunteer army disdained taking anybody with even a minor criminal record. In its report, CNN spoke about two soldiers - one who came into the military with a record of assault and robbery, then became a hero by rescuing several of his fellow soldiers, before being killed in Iraq. The other, a man with gang ties and several violent felonies in civilian life before joining up, is now in military prison, charged with raping an Iraqi woman and killing her entire family to cover up his crime. Think about the new policy for a moment. We are giving these proven thugs weapons and teaching them how to use them. We are training them to evade the enemy and to kill, at both long and short range. Should these soldiers survive the war, they will come home. Will they then use the skills the military has taught them to revert to their criminal past? We think they will, and we believe that people with violent criminal pasts have no place in the military. One of our editors was once a court reporter in the U.S. Navy. During his service, several of the young men who came up for courts-martial because of severe criminal behavior were in the military only because they were given the choice of going to jail or joining up. That is now happening again, and both the military and the home communities of these men and women will suffer because of the new policy of "Morals Waivers."

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