Pennsylvania’s Rep. John Murtha has introduced legislation to end the Stop-Loss Policy which requires soldiers to extend their commitments to the military. But it’s hitting walls to support it – even amongst Utah’s Delegations.
Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and Vietnam combat veteran, attached the stop-loss legislation to a host of other training, funding and deployment provisions he acknowledged were designed to bring an end to the war in Iraq.
That put the plan on the wrong side of many Republicans and made it a “nonstarter” with conservative Democrats such as Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.
The former Marine colonel is said to be reworking his pitch.
But many members of Congress – including Utah’s delegates – appear reluctant to support an end to the stop-loss scheme, even as a stand-alone issue.
Sen. Bob Bennett said he recognized that holding troops past their promised separation dates was “a burden” but that military readiness trumps personal sacrifice.
“In a time of war, this policy is an important tool for the military to use to address immediate threats to our national security,” said Bennett, who served as a National Guard chaplain from 1957 to 1960. “Stop-loss is one of the conditions of voluntary service in the military.”
But does is it “right” to hold soldiers to this? Some do not think so.
“Ridiculous,” responds Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “It’s not a volunteer military if you can’t get out.”
Rieckhoff, a veteran of hundreds of combat patrols in Iraq, acknowledged that the military has the legal authority to hold service members past their contracts. But that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean it makes sense, he said.
This weekend, and particularly next Monday March 19, marks the 4th anniversary of the War and Occupation of Iraq. It’s time to end it. It’s not right to keep up this illegal and morally wrong debacle about which Americans have been lied to.