After Experiencing War In Iraq Army Specialist
Mark Wilkerson Refuses War on Moral Grounds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday August 31, 2006

AWOL Conscientious Objector Turns Himself In at Ft. Hood
Following Press Conference with Cindy Sheehan

Wilkerson Latest in Growing Number of Iraq War Military Resisters

Crawford, TX~ 22-year old Army Specialist Mark Wilkerson held a press conference this morning to announce his plan to turn himself in to Fort Hood in Texas, after being AWOL (Absent Without Leave) for more than 18 months. Wilkerson, who served in the 720th Military Police Battalion in Iraq from
March 2003 to March 2004, made the decision to refuse redeployment on moral grounds, and went AWOL when his request for ‘Conscientious Objector’ status was denied by the Army in November 2004.

“I made the difficult decision to go AWOL and to become a Conscientious Objector for political, spiritual, and personal reasons.  After my experience in Iraq I realized that I am not willing to kill, or be killed, or do anything else I consider morally wrong,” Wilkerson said.  “There comes a time in a person’s life when they must make the right moral decision for themselves, regardless of how popular that decision is in the eyes of others, or what others feel about it,” he said.

Flanked by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Wilkerson addressed supporters, including Cindy Sheehan and other members of Gold Star Families for Peace at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas.  Wilkerson is the first Conscientious Objector at Camp Casey since Sheehan’s recent announcement of her intentions for the land to serve as refuge for war resisters and their
families.  Wilkerson was introduced and later escorted to Ft. Hood by Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright.  Wright resigned from the State Department in 2003 in protest to the Iraq war, after 26 years in the military and 16 years in the diplomatic corps, and has spent the last three years speaking out for peace.

“I honor and respect every soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  I honor them and their families,” Wilkerson said. “May the soldiers who have been killed remind each and every one of us that life is short, life is fragile, and that life must be respected. I also honor every
soldier who makes the decision to enlist into the military, and to go to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of their personal opinions on war.”

Cindy Sheehan stated her support for Wilkerson’s decision:  “Mark served one tour in Iraq and what he saw there changed him to such a degree that he couldn’t in good conscience return again.  It shouldn’t be his duty to enter combat once again. He has already done what has been asked of him, and fulfilled his oath,” Sheehan said. “There is a belief on the part of the soldier that they will be used carefully, and as a last resort only when all other means to resolve a conflict have been exhausted.  Instead soldiers are put into harms way without proper training and equipment, and for reasons we have come to find were fraudulent. The social contract between the US government and our society and the solider who serves has been broken,” she

Wilkerson’s case will be reviewed, and he could face discharge, court martial or other repercussions.