WASHINGTON - August 17 - Attorneys for a decorated combat veteran serving in the Army Reserve are announcing Tuesday the filing of a petition challenging a "stop loss" order that requires the reservist to remain in the military beyond the term of his enlistment for possible duty in Iraq.
The reservist is identified as "John Doe" for reasons of privacy. According to his attorneys, Doe's case is the first legal challenge to the Army's current "stop loss" program. Under the program, tens of thousands of soldiers have been prevented from retiring or leaving the military upon completing their enlistment terms so that they may be deployed to Iraq. The petition asserts that the program is arbitrary, unfair, and unauthorized by law. The stop loss program has been widely criticized as a "backdoor draft."
[Doe's lawyers are scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday, August 17, at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time; Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate, Press Room, 18th Floor, San Francisco. They will be available for interviews after the news conference.]
His attorneys say that Doe, a San Francisco Bay Area resident, served in combat during the invasion of Iraq last year, and has more than nine years of active service in the military. Doe currently serves as a reservist in the California Army National Guard under a one-year enlistment. He has a wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 3. The stop loss order could require Doe's return to Iraq for up to two years, and possible continued military service beyond that time. Doe is one of up to 40,000 service members forced to serve beyond the expiration of their enlistment terms since the war in Iraq began.
MICHAEL S. SORGEN, JOSHUA SONDHEIMER, email@example.com
Doe is represented by attorneys Sorgen and Sondheimer, who will be available for interviews after the news conference. Sorgen said today: "This lawsuit seeks to stop the forced retention of men and women like John Doe who have already fulfilled their service obligations to the country. Their enlistments should have ended, and they should now be entitled to return to their families."
MARGUERITE HIKEN, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.nlg.org/mltf
Hiken is co-chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, which is assisting in the lawsuit. She said today: "We are asking the federal court to uphold lawful rights and not allow the Army to create a new category of indentured servitude."
MICHAEL HOFFMAN, email@example.com, www.ivaw.net
Co-founder and national coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War, Hoffman has also been affected by "stop loss." He said today: "It was December of 2002 and I was ready to go on with my life. I had served my four years honorably in the United States Marine Corps and while everyone was going home for the holidays I was getting ready to go home for good. That was until my first sergeant called me into his office and told me my life was being put on hold. He said that my unit was going to Kuwait to prepare for the imminent invasion and even though my active duty term was over I was going over with them. I had another six months added to my time on active duty, two of which were spent in Iraq. The problems the current stop loss policy caused for me is nothing compared to that of other service members. One of my close friends, Isaiah Pallos, lost a job he had lined up in Ohio and is now struggling to make ends meet for his young family. This stop loss policy has added even more burden to the war weary minds of American service members and must be ended immediately before it adds harm to more families already devastated by this war."