Is the Army's manpower problem so bad it must now recall the injured?

Twenty-three-year old Adam Mowery was discharged by the U.S. Army in May of 2003,, from the 188th MP Company stationed in Taegu, South Korea, due to a back injury he sustained while on active duty at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital following the attacks on September 11. On February 1, 21 months after Adam was forced out of the Army, he was notified he is to report for active duty the first week of April.

In recent conversations with Adam, he told me the original notice to report was last August. It gave him 30 days to report but, before the 30 days expired he received new orders which extended his report day another 30 days. This continued until the last order on February 1, giving Adam 60 days to report; that would put it the first week of April.

The very same back injury that forced Adam out of the Army in the first place still exists today. The very same back injury which motivated the Army to discharge Adam for the "good of the service" still exists today, nothing has changed. Adam is still in a lot of pain; he still has significant difficulty with anything that requires physical effort—like walking, running, jumping, climbing, all the things required of someone in the military for combat-readiness.

Adam enlisted in January 2001. He said he "was excited by the prospect of starting my military career;" And that, "I was satisfied with my decision and I had no qualms about training as a military police office." Later that year, Adam, while in the performance of his duties as an MP sustained a disabling back injury. It was this back injury and Adam's inability to train or fulfill his duties that led the Army made the decision to discharge him—something Adam himself had never petitioned or asked for.

After Adam was discharged his life took a decided turn. Adam says it best: "Knowing that a career in military was no longer an option, I had to reconsider my goals, my plans and the way I would live as a civilian once again. I [was] looking for answers and was intrigued and delighted [when] a friend invited me to fellowship at his church and the chance to renew my faith." And it was during this time that the kid that was excited about enlisting became a man of principle, moral integrity and honor and a 'conscientious objector.'
" . . . I began to accept and believe in the sanctity of all life and the effects of my actions upon other people. As I opened up, I realized that I became a better person as an instrument of peace rather than when I was a soldier with no morals or ethical standards about violence or killing. As my morals and ethics were changing, I became disgusted after seeing the injustice which led our nation to war, the barbaric murders of civilians and the killings of innocent men, women and children, the abuse of the prisoners of war, news reports of videos and pictures of American soldiers rejoicing at their victory in battle and the killings of their enemies."

This was a conscience decision Adam made about war. He had become a man of conscience and an anti-war advocate. This was a decision that was also made by a man who had served and was discharged from the military due to a permanent injury; a decision made by a man who knew due to his injury and discharge would not be a participant in a war. So when he received orders to report back to active duty it not only came as shock, it was an issue of great confusion. After all, it was the Army that forced Adam of the military to begin with due to his injury and now they want him back? Who would not be confused?

Adam upon receiving recall papers, filed for an exemption on two points that are well stated in his request of IMA exemption from involuntary active duty:
ATTN: SFC Ortega, Delay and Exemption Team, Cell 2
SUBJECT: Request for an IMA Exemption from Involuntary Active Duty Request for Appeal.
FROM: (Adam Brock Mowery, PFC, )
TO: (Commander having jurisdictional control)

Enclosed are the letters, statements and documents to support my request for exemption from involuntary active duty. As stated in my original appeal I suffered a lower back injury as shown in my Army medical records while serving on Active Duty in 2001. From the time of my injury I was put on temporary and permanent profiles because I could not run, jump, or lift any heavy objects. On 1 May 2003 I was discharged under Separation Authority AR 635-200, Chapter 18, Weight Control Failure, Separation Code LCR with a Reentry code of 3. I was proactively released from Active Duty because I could not perform my job functions as a Military Police Officer and I could not exercise or strengthen myself because I would suffer from constant lower back pain. I am in a worse physical shape now than I was when I was released. I will not run, jump, lift or carry heavy objects or put myself in danger where I may be severely injured for the rest of my life due to my chronic back pains. I cannot and will not perform any military police duties after I was proactively released from Active Duty for not being able to do them in the first place.

2. I am a conscientious objector to war in any form! After being proactively discharged from Active Duty in 2003 knowing that a career in military was no longer an option due to my physical and medical state I had to reconsider my goals, my plans and the way I would live as a civilian once again. I, looking for answers was intrigued when an old friend invited me for fellowship at his church and the chance to renew my faith. I went with him and was prompted to think deeply as I listened to the lessons and I started to evaluate my life and the decisions I had made in the past. I felt fulfilled by the guidance, but frustrated by the moral disconnect I was noticing in myself and all the things I had regretted doing in the past. Since my discharge more than a year and a half ago, my moral development has grew [sic] and reinforced that each and every person has the right to live and act, as they feel guided by their conscience and their conceived principles of right and wrong. My conscience and ethical views will not allow me to harm, control or subdue another person by force. I will not train or use any weapons or any types of equipment that could harm another person's life. If ordered to contradict my convictions I will suffer from intense internal grief and turmoil. I will not be able to have any rest or peace of mind. I will not contradict my convictions by participating or supporting the military. I joined and will continue in supporting my local Veterans for Peace chapter. Enclosed as per AR 600-43, Conscientious Objection is: Request for Separation, Personnel Action Form DA 4187, and AR 600-43 Appendix B.

The reply Adam received back from Col James P Larsen, Deputy, The Adjutant General, on February 1, went on to say, "I have reviewed your delay and exemption appeal and disapprove your request and subsequent discharge. Under the provisions of AR 601-25, chapter 4, you do not meet the requirements for a hardship exemption/discharge. It is imperative you carry medical records to the mobilization site." It goes on from there and then lists the point of contact as, "CW5 Rodger Shuttleworth at commercial 703-325-1790 or DSN 221-1790. Three phone calls from me went unanswered.

Now unless I'm way off track here, it was the Army that discharged Adam in the first place as he was no longer fit or able to perform his duties due to his service connected injury. Now he is denied a discharge (a second one) because he doesn't "meet the requirements for a hardship exemption/discharge." Something is seriously wrong with this picture. They didn't even consider Adam's other request as a conscientious objector."

"It is since my discharge(the first one in May 2003) through thoughtful introspection that I know I am no longer the trained soldier I was in the military. I very much respect and love the person I have become and value my life. I am glad; too, that I think about and question honestly all the things I do and how they would affect another person and considering [sic] carefully what is right and wrong. I challenge myself to be an even better person. I know my way of thinking and unwavering moral probing is incompatible with military service and I cannot and will not support the ARMY or any actions of the military.
"As a civilian, and despite a tremendous change in my ethics and moral beliefs, I did not realize the need to apply for recognition as a conscientious objector because I believed I was disqualified from any future military service due to the nature of the ARMY discharging me because of my physical limitations and my inability to perform my job due to sustaining the on-duty injury, upon notification of the possibility to be mobilized, train and participate in war, I am seeking recognition as a conscientious objector 1-0."

Adam now finds himself one of many that in the past year, regardless of their physical disabilities, who are being called back to active duty as a result of the mess our government has created by this BushCo war of choice in Iraq; A war of choice that has resulted in a seriously overextended and strained U.S. military.

The Army stated Adam was honorably discharged for: AR 635-200, Chapter 18, Weight Control Failure. Due to Adam's back injury he was no longer able to participate in any physical activities and he gained some weight. The Army says someone 6'1" should weigh 180 pounds; Adam came in at 240 pounds so the Army discharged him for not meeting its weight guidelines, which was a result of the back injury. Essentially what the Army has said with that discharge is they are discharging Adam for the "good of the service." Now it wants him back!

Knowing the way the military works, I have a good understanding why the Army discharged Adam as it did. If Adam had been discharged specifically for the back injury the Army would be taking care of him, including having to compensate him for the service-connected disability relating to his back injury.

Unfortunately Adam is not alone in terms of people that have significant injuries and disabilities who are being called up to active duty. In the past month alone, I've spoken with the wife of a 42-year old man who has been out for some time and who had four separate doctors state he is disabled. He has significant seizures but has been called back to active duty; a young man with a degenerative nerve disease causing him to go deaf, called back to active duty; a 22 year old man with a centrally herniated disk at C-4/C-5 level in his neck and both vertebra cracked, after seven months of no duty he reports back from leave, fit for duty and on to Iraq—I spoke with his father, a Vietnam vet, a couple of times and he is going out of his mind with worry for his son.

I could go on with more like these, but this should be enough to get the idea. The people that created this obscene mess and the so-called military leaders have lost their ever lovin' minds! It's bad enough to send anyone to war, but to call up those that have significant health and physical issues, as in Adam's case, is sheer lunacy and total disregard for people.

Even at the height of the Vietnam War, I did not see this type of thing. We in this nation had better wake up to what Bush and his cadre of war hawks have done and are doing to this nation and the people in it while we still have a nation or are we all going to just sit around watching, saying nothing as young men are sent off to war; and the Army can't make up its mind if someone they have discharged is discharged. That's not an all-volunteer Army, that's called forced indenture—once it was called slavery. Is this what we have allowed the nation to become? Lives that are not our own, but the state's to do with as it will, when it will? That's what it is beginning to look like.

In the meantime, Adam is standing up with head held high; a man of character, of ethics, of integrity and honor; a man that I am in full support of and am proud to call friend. He is a man with a tough fight ahead of him as he tries to get the Army to do the right thing and discharge him—again!

Jack Dalton is a disabled Vietnam veteran, activist, writer and co-editor of the Project for the Old American Century web publication. Adam Mowery may be reached at

:: Article nr. 9637 sent on 12-feb-2005 22:50 ECT


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