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A Fort Drum soldier absent without leave petitioned Ithaca, N.Y., lawmakers on Wednesday night to make good on the city’s pledge to be a "community of sanctuary" for soldiers who oppose the war in Iraq, according to a report in the Ithaca Journal.

Spc. Stephen Trevor Loope left Fort Drum last year after what he described as "mental abuse" from peers and superiors and unresponsive or nonexistent mental health treatment, the Journal reported.

Loope served a 15-month tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade 10th Mountain Division starting in February 2006, according to the paper.

The Journal wrote that Ithaca’s Common Council in October passed a resolution declaring itself a "community of sanctuary" that would "respect and not interfere with the lawful activities of military personnel, veterans, and all others who are opposed to the immoral wars in and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Loope told the Journal that he planned to turn himself in Thursday at Fort Drum and asked the council to write letters to his superiors. He said he could be facing a court martial, dishonorable discharge and/or jail time.

Loope told the paper that he believes the war in Iraq is "immoral." He is not seeking conscientious objector status, but contends the Army did not provide the mental health care he needed, saying that when he sought mental health care at Fort Drum, his Army therapist "told me that I was fine and sent me back to active duty."

Fort Drum spokeswoman Julie Cupernall was not able to comment on Loope’s status Wednesday to the Journal.


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