Sunday, May 24, 2009

A final thought about the Green case [REVISED]

Last year, we expressed our dismay about an increase in the number of recruits entering the military on conduct waivers. This year, we celebrated the news that the Army had stopped enlisting potential recruits with felony convictions and recent drug use.

The New York Times reports that former Army PFC Steven D. Green "got into the Army in 2005 on a so-called morals waiver, having had problems with alcohol and drug abuse." This example gives an all-too-disturbing face to the statistics suggesting those who entered the military on conduct waivers are more likley to commit misconduct than are those who didn't.


Anonymous said...

I gotta disagree. Green wasn't discharged for misconduct, and I haven't heard anything about his co-conspirators having been enlisted on waivers.

If I missed that information somewhere, just delete this post.

Anonymous said...

Grunt-level infantry are recruited largely due to economic conscription, not squeaky-clean motivations.

And although I agree that violent criminals deserve a closer look, your link between alcohol/drug abuse and what happened here is, in my opinion, a little bit silly.

Christopher Mathews said...

Anons --

Green's discharge was based on a mental health diagnosis. Although it's not possible to draw a direct connection with any certainty, it wouldn't be particularly surprising to learn that his pre-service substance abuse issues were related to his personality disorder, or that his criminal conduct was likewise connected. So while his crimes may not have been causally "linked" to substance abuse, they may share a common factor. Which is not to say he doesn't deserve to spend the rest of his life locked up: to be quite honest, I think he got off lightly. I would have had no hesitation in sentencing him to death.

As to what I think was the main point of the original post: I share Col. Sullivan's dismay about granting conduct waivers to recruits. It may be necessary, but I don't have to like it.

John O'Connor said...

One of the best things about the military is the ability of a kid who's maybe had it rough as a youth, and hasn't been perfect, to redeem his or her life. It has an amazing ability to turn boys (and girls) into men (and women). In that sense, the military strives to be the ultimate meritocracy. You are judged on what you are doing now.

I will gladly concede that the military's first mission is not to serve as a social welfare agency that is there to redeem those who have fallen. And maybe the stakes are so high, or it is so difficult to distinguish the redeemable youths from those who are a lost cause, that the only solution is a blanket exclusion of those who have been far short of perfect in their civilian lives. That might be true, but I'd be sad if it is.

Anonymous said...

Have JO'C and DHS been abducted by aliens and had their brains surgically exchanged or am I missing something on this thread?

Mike "No Man" Navarre said...

Have JO'C and DHS been abducted by aliens and had their brains surgically exchanged or am I missing something on this thread?

John O'Connor said...

You haven't missed anything.

Dwight wants to give medals and promotions to people who come into the military and screw up, as long as they were good boys and girls BEFORE they enlisted.

I judge people based on how they do after enlistment, and think it's too bad that military opportunities for redemption for those who screwed up as a civilian appear to be lessening.

But seriously, isn't doing away with moral waivers going to create a new immorality, where recruits (aided by their recruiters) lie in order to deny the youthful experimentation with marijuana?

Anonymous said...

I find myself agreeing with JO'C on this one too (though I am usually more in line with Colonel Sullivan).

Particularly given the prevalence of marijuana in today's society, it would be foolish to exclude those who have experimented with such drugs. We don't always have the luxury of being that picky. No doubt there is SOMETHING somewhere in the back of everyone's mind here that might disqualify them for service under such a regime. (were you REALLY sober every time you drove home from a party?) Also, to claim that there is a link between marijuana use and raping and killing a 14 year old seems a (couple of) bridge(s) too far.

Green was a psychopath. Most marijuana users aren't. This case should serve primarily to highlight the complete and total overhaul that our psychiatric services need in the service. Those people are overworked and understaffed. Finally, isn't this all just a bunch of hand wringing? I mean seriously, everyone always says "we should have seen this" but the reality is, the blame sits solely with Green and his band of miscreants. If ONE of them had a conscience we wouldn't be discussing this.