Text of AppealForRedress.org’s Appeal for Redress
By CHIEF MASTER SGT. JEFF SLOCUM Published: March 18, 2007
"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home."
“What’s wrong with you?” you may ask. OK, hear me out.
I’m an American citizen: 41 years old, born and raised in New York state, a father, and a husband. I’m also a chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force with 21 years in service. I love what I do and believe the military is a great way of life that provides great opportunities for success.
Stay with me. I support the Appeal for Redress, calling on my elected representatives in Congress to bring a prompt end to the Iraq war. I’m afforded that right by the Constitution, federal laws and military policies. I can also discuss and express my position in public in the capacity of an American citizen, provided I’m off base, off duty and not in uniform.
The collective appeal of more than 1,700 individuals has gained congressional attention and support, and will continue to compel our elected officials to take favorable action as more people become signatories. Many military members and affiliated organizations communicate with Congress on a wide variety of matters. The Constitution extends this basic right to all American citizens. By exercising our individual rights, we promote a healthy and enduring democracy.
Still, some yell “Traitor!” and other expressions in response to their perception that my conduct is blasphemous and irrational. Why would I do such a thing, and say so publicly? Allow me to explain my uncharacteristic behavior.
While watching the CBS “60 Minutes” profile of the Appeal for Redress, I saw many younger enlisted people, and only a few officers, bearing the burden of democracy. Should I also risk my personal and professional reputation? Is this advocacy for the welfare of our military members, their families and, ultimately, the citizens of our great nation that important? What about the threat to our own democratic government, economy, social order and national reputation caused by the costly, dismal, ambiguous, no-end-in-sight and increasingly deteriorating situation in Iraq?
I was ultimately inspired to action after a search-and-discovery mission to find the truth concerning the war in Iraq. We’re fast exhausting our military people and resources. Equipment shortages are causing increased risk to personnel and operations, while, at the same time, the capability to provide all troops with quality and timely medical care is severely degraded. Our men and women serving and recovering in this war are suffering greatly in terms of physical, mental and emotional trauma, and they deserve our utmost support to help end the madness so many have endured.
I’m not advocating disrespect toward military leaders and elected officials. I’m not proposing actions that are contrary to good order and discipline, jeopardize mission accomplishment or undermine troop morale. I’m not questioning the legitimacy of the duties our military personnel carry out each day.
Many have died or been permanently disfigured physically, mentally and emotionally while doing their duty and protecting their brothers and sisters in arms. They all have sacrificed with great honor and courage and, without question, deserve our sincerest recognition and greatest respect as heroes.
However, in contrast to conventional military thought, I don’t believe that “shut up and color, or get out,” is an appropriate blanket response to dissent. People who conclude I’m disloyal, disrespectful and not committed to serving my country have grossly misjudged my motivations, and are most likely ill-informed. I firmly believe that as volunteers in military service, we must continue to do our duty to the very best of our ability, wherever and whenever called to do so. Further, our rights as military members to seek redress should inspire us all as proof that the ideal of democracy, for which we fight and die, lives and thrives in America.
Signers of the Appeal for Redress are patriotic Americans pulling double duty as both regular citizens and military members. Many have been, and will again be, in Iraq answering the call of duty. Some units are mistreating these good people for having exercised their rights. Fortunately, my leaders acknowledge and respect my rights. I sincerely thank them for that. Rising to the demands of double duty patriotism in defense of democracy is a heavy enough burden without having to take cover against friendly fire.
Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Slocum is a career enlisted Air Force member, originally from Elmira, N.Y. He’s presently stationed in Fayetteville, N.C. He’s also served tours of duty in Texas, Arizona, Montana, Florida, South Korea, Europe, Southwest Asia and Honduras.