(By Mark Fisher, originally published in the Columbus Dispatch , August 11 2006)
A peace activist who helps American troops seeking military discharges as conscientious objectors will speak twice this month at Columbus Mennonite Church in Clintonville.
David Stutzman works with the nonprofit Military Counseling Network in Germany, where many U.S. troops stay at bases while in transit to or from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He'll discuss his experiences at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 and 21 at the church, 35 Oakland Park Ave.
"A lot of people come to us with issues of conscience or political problems" concerning the fighting, Stutzman said. He's worked with more than 300 soldiers, he said, although about two-thirds of them sought help with other issues, such as family or financial problems.
Stutzman, 28 and the son of Mennonite missionaries, said he wanted to live out his principles by becoming more than just a war protester.
Some accuse the counselors of not supporting the troops, he said, but he contends they are -- by helping soldiers who've been wounded, whose friends have been killed or who are suffering persistent psychological problems or doubts about the nation's course.