Speaking up is a start: Thanks for the story "Are Your Papers in Order?" I have been disgusted by Arpaio's behavior for years, and I just don't know what to do to help protest his actions and support the people being mistreated.
Jennie Whitmer, via the Internet

JUST DESERTERS

Correcting some falsehoods: Flagrant false statements are made in your letters section regarding the "No Canada" article. Americans owe service personnel for duties completed, no matter the lengths. Respective service periods end for divergent reasons — positive and negative.

No American has all the details to truthfully assess separations, and you cannot just rudely criticize service personnel based on your ignorance.

Desertions are mentioned over and over, but some letter writers don't mention the desertions by the U.S. military branches of service personnel. Mentioned are Iraq and Vietnam, but why don't writers include Korea and World War II. Moreover, why don't stupid critics understand the differences among these wars. Americans have never received the details of the thousands of deserters among enlistees in all these wars.

U.S. presidents have horrifically sent out military personnel to the Vietnam civil war. Service personnel were justified in deserting from that immoral war.
Donald Begalke, Phoenix

She really should've just stuck it out: Basically, I think Kim Rivera should've toughed out the time she signed up to serve, but I would also like to know whether she was given alternatives to running away.

She clearly has some issues, and from personal experience, I can tell you that homesickness can be debilitating and can sneak up on a person. With that in mind, a well-run military would allow a person to get help, to transfer to a position that the person's more capable of, to be discharged.

If you jump at your own shadow, you're a danger to yourself and your unit, and that trumps unit cohesion. Still, while a lack of such options could be considered extenuating circumstances, what she did was still wrong.

The ones I do support are those who got a stop-loss order. They did their duty, fulfilled their obligations, and went back to their lives, only to be pulled back in, or not allowed to leave the military.

What happened to a volunteer military? Aside from a slap on the wrist, I don't think such deserters deserve punishment. They did everything they were supposed to, and the military simply decided to conscript them, which goes against the claims of an all-volunteer military.

This is especially galling when, at the same time, we're kicking gays out because they can't be gay and serve. Quite frankly, as long as you behave yourself and conduct yourself professionally, I don't see why gays can't serve, particularly at a time when we need everyone we can get.
Jim Harrison, Phoenix

Simply a coward: I don't believe [Kim Rivera] for a minute; she joined for a free ride, hoping her kids would keep her from serving in Iraq. She gambled and lost and now needs to face the music. I served in everything from Vietnam to the first Gulf War (and had five kids along the way). I may not have agreed or liked the situation, but I was no coward. She could have gotten out, if she hated it so much, but with no benefits.
Mike Wichrowski, Phoenix

Canadian love for deserters: Megan Feldman's article on desertion was an excellent piece on the subject. I first went to Canada in 1966 and have since become a dual citizen. Canada has been very good to me, but I won't go on about that.

I'm very embarrassed by the way the Harper Conservative government has handled all of this. When I first arrived in Canada, I had a choice. Go kill people I didn't know or find a new life somewhere else. Which I did.

Pierre Trudeau wasn't "welcoming American deserters by the thousands." It was very tough, and the Canadian government was not at all welcoming. But, like I said, we had a choice and had to live with it. [Vietnam-era deserters] were duped by their leadership, but they were responsible for what they did.

I don't think we can debate anymore the story of Vietnam. Many books have enlightened the world on the illegal and immoral war that was Vietnam. When Jimmy Carter "pardoned" all of us, we all thought that was a joke.

Anyway, the current deserters need to be respected and praised for what they're doing. All we hear now is "support our troops," but they are doing the work of their government. They, too, have been duped.
David Wilkie, via the Internet

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