Imagine serving the U.S. Army for a year in the hot, Iraqi desert. Each day, you risk your life and await your return to America. After your tour is over, you are supposed to be done and able to move on with your life. However, you return to the States only to find the Army will be shipping you back overseas against your will. Sounds unfair, doesn't it?
The Army, along with the U.S. government, is allowed to do this because of the Stop-Loss order issued by the Department of Defense. This order, otherwise known as some sort of a "backdoor draft," is an unpopular practice forcing soldiers to stay in the service well beyond retirement or re-enlistment dates.
In May of 2007, the number of soldiers affected had dropped to a 3-year low of 8,540. However, in March of 2008, despite Robert Gates' request for the Army to limit the use of Stop-Loss, this number had increased by 43%. From 2002 to April of last year, 58,300 people had already been affected by the policy. In addition to the Stop-Loss order, President Bush has extended tour lengths to 15 months.
The Army says they will need the Stop-Loss practice until late 2009, but just how many more soldiers will this burden until that time? While most soldiers understand the necessity of the policy and the need to bolster troops in order to meet our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, not many are happy. The use of this policy does not boost morale, hurts recruitment of new servicemen, and definitely puts a strain on the men and women already generously serving our nation, along with their families.
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