Dustin Stevens is a conscientious objector awaiting courts martial at Ft. Bragg NC for refusing to train and deploy to Iraq.
Army Spc. Dustin Che Stevens, Ft. Bragg NC. October 26, 2009
We have a victory in this whole mess I think. Pictures of the living conditions of Echo Platoon have leaked out causing them to send us all to different units to await our fate. A Colonel told us that the system was broken and that it has been since 2006. He said that the living conditions were horrible and he was sorry that they got that bad. So we had to move to different units, seperated from eachother and thrown back into the Army for real this time. Echo Platoon is no more but I feel that we are still being punished. We are forced to “be soldiers” now. That is something that I have not known how to be for almost eight years now. Yes the living conditions are better but that was only a fraction of the problem.
Keeping us here for months at a time with no pay and no clue is wrong, plain and simple, we are human beings. The way I and many like me have lived for 10 months is that of a wild animal. No one, I mean no one, should ever be treated the way that we have been treated. It took 2 months for me to get my pay started, 8 months for them to read my charges to me and 10 months to tell me something I have known for 10 months(that we live in poor conditions). But it only took 3 hours to give almost 60 soldiers orders to other units.
The barracks were unfit for even a dog to live in. The treatment by the cadre made us feel invisible. Paperwork was lost, or not done at all and no one gave a damn because “we shouldn’t have went awol”. I say that’s bullshit, I say that’s inhumane. But we got the place shut down, yay for that. We shouldn’t have been sent to units to wait for another 6 months. We should all be sent home with our DD-214’s in hand with a “have a nice day”. I don’t want anything from the Army unless it’s my discharge. I don’t want any apologies and I don’t want any damn money. I just want to go home and find a job (which will be real hard in this economy) and marry my girlfriend and raise our family together. That is all that I have ever wanted.
It has been ten months for me. I have had to witness men and women alike give up hope. I have almost lost everything because of this place. I have no job to go home to. I have no school to return to, and I almost had no home or family to return to. In my eyes, this constitutes punishment. When I finally return home (whenever that may be) I may have nothing at all. My mind wanders in and out of thoughts of giving up entirely. But I try and stay the course, try to hold onto my sanity while men that don’t really know me tell me that I am a piece of shit. That God will punish me for what I have done to my Country. Or maybe they just want to line me up against a wall and shoot me in the head.
But you will say that we have a victory and that I should be proud of what I have done for my fellow man. And you’re right on many levels. But there is one thing that maybe no one is really grasping. A lot of us have been here for almost a year. We have found out that we may not get our court dates until March or April of 2010 and none of our time counts for anything. In April I will have been here for 15 months. Then I may even receive more time to spend in jail. Even if they give me 30 days, I and many like me have still sat in a “halfway house” for more than 10 months for nothing. Is this justice, or are the soldiers of Echo considered worthless for quitting a job?