January 14, 2008

Conscientious Objector or Fraud?

Dr. Mary Hanna, a doctor who just completed a four-year residency in anesthesiology at a renowned university hospital, was ordered discharged from the Army by a federal court – that ruling was recently upheld on appeal. Read the entire legal case.

Dr. Hanna was provided a full scholarship and salary to become a doctor with the commitment to serve four years on active duty and another four years in the reserves. She took the education, but coincident with her graduation from her residency decided that her religious convictions did not allow her to serve in the Army that funded that education.

Captain Hanna, you took the money, but more importantly, you took the oath as an officer in the United States Army. You’ve offered to give the money back to the Army. News flash: the Army doesn’t need your money, the Army needs doctors – especially anesthesiologists. The Army needed you to honor your commitment.

A Royal Air Force doctor who refused to deploy to Iraq in 2005 was sentenced to eight months in jail. Just like
U.S. Army Captain Ehren Watada who decided he was a conscientious objector when ordered to serve in Iraq, even though he entered the Army voluntarily after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, officers do not get to pick and choose what orders they are going to obey. It’s called the “service” for a reason. The word evokes duty, honor and commitment, values which appear to be not in your lexicon. The British got it right; our courts did not.

I suspect that somewhere about your fourth year of residency you discovered how much money civilian anesthesiologists make – average is about $310,000 per year - compared to an Army captain. Although you would not have anywhere near that serving out your Army commitment, you could have made a difference.

One part of me is disgusted by your cheap theatrics which boil down to your desire to go for the money and hoped that you would have gone to jail. The other part of me is thankful that you will never disgrace the uniform of the country that gave you a future and asked little in return.