U.S. Army Combat Veteran Logan (Mehl-Laituri) Isaac

 I always considered myself a Christian; I attended youth group all through high school, went to church in Basic Training, met regularly with the Chaplains in my various units. But somehow I knew I was playing a game, just skirting the threshold between superficial religiosity and genuine faith. It took a 14 month deployment to Iraq to think more seriously about whether that stance was doing myself or God any good at all. I thought long and hard about what I had been a part of and what being a Christian soldier meant. In the spring of 2006, I realized that being a forward observer for the artillery excluded me from the Body of the Prince of Peace; I could be one or the other, but not both.

Facing a second deployment, I wrestled with the thought of becoming a conscientious objector (CO). I had been in the Army well over 5 years by that time, was a thrice decorated combat veteran , a noncommissioned officer, and a fairly patriotic American. I had good, honest, caring friends in the military that I had no interest in severing ties with. Discharge as a CO was not something I felt inclined toward, but I knew I could never carry a weapon again. Then one day, I had an epiphany; I would ask to return to the Middle East without a weapon as a noncombatant CO.

The process was relatively abrupt and disorganized, due in part to my commanders’ lack of clear understanding of the regulations governing COs. Like Martin of Tours before me, my commanders accused me of cowardice, even though I was explicitly asking to return to the front lines. As a part of the CO application process, I was interviewed by a civilian psychologist , who diagnosed me with failure to adapt to the military, of being unfit to remain on active duty, and who suggested that I be made non-deployable.

My unit did not enjoy that prognosis much, but ultimately adhered to the doctor’s recommendation, much to my chagrin. As a result, I watched my friends go to combat without me in August of 2006. Some of them did not return.

I would ETS shortly thereafter, finding my own way to the Middle East with Christian Peacemaker Teams. For two weeks our group travelled throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, collecting information and background on the conflict there. I had a peculiar perspective, as the same weapon I had pointed at others in Iraq was being pointed at me in Palestine. I learned the hard way that when it comes to Christian violence, the enemy is always on both sides of the gun.

*This blog entry comes from our community newsletter, Change of Command. To see it in its original form, check out Issue #2!