Soldier criminals should not reflect military values

In light of what’s been going on in the news recently, I have been getting negative feedback about my choice of occupation.  I am a member of the United States Army Reserve.  I have been a Soldier for over six years.  My military career has had its ups and downs but that can be said about a lot of relationships whether it is personal or professional. However, unlike some, I have been able to balance my emotions from my actions and rationalize situations.  From the Fort Hood massacre, to the execution of former Army sniper John Allen Muhammad to the latest news of three Soldiers serving time in prison for killing Iraqi detainees, these Soldiers are examples of individuals that could not distinguish right from wrong.   

I have been to war once and I am scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan for the second time in January.  Although I may have not witnessed some of the things Muhammad saw while serving in Desert Storm or Major Nidal Hasan heard about from the eyewitness accounts from his patients nor face the decision of whether to shoot or hold fire like infantrymen, I have been a hostile environment where I had to be prepared to fight for my life at any moment. The military trains you not to kill, but to defend and protect. These men wrongfully used the skills they were trained to use for combat.  Instead, they used it in a setting where they had control and their victims didn’t have a fighting chance.  They made the decision based on what they felt was right, not what they learned was right.   

My goal is not to recruit or convince people that the military is the ideal occupation or that we are justified in all that we do.  But I do want to educate the public that the men and women that serve this country are faced with unimaginable circumstances that many would not even consider to handle.  The military has taught me survival skills, but also how to put others before myself.  These selfish acts should not determine your viewpoint of the military.  In the Army we are taught to live by the Soldier’s Creed.  One of the lines it reads: I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.  These men that served in uniform did a disservice to their country and their Army, and for that they will or have already faced the price of their actions.