FORT BENNING, GA - Army National Guard Specialist Katherine Jashinski, on active duty with the 111th ASG since January of this year, held a press conference earlier today to make a public statement against the Iraq war as a conscientious objector in the face of orders to participate in weapons training and deploy to the Middle East. She was joined by several members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace. Jashinski applied for a discharge as a conscientious objector in 2004. The Army recently denied her claim and ordered her to weapons training and deployment this week.
Katherine Jashinski's Public Statement:
"My name is Katherine Jashinski. I am a SPC in the Texas Army National Guard. I was born in Milwaukee, WI and I am 22 years old. When I graduated high school I moved to Austin, TX to attend college. At age 19, I enlisted in the Guard as a cook because I wanted to experience military life. When I enlisted I believed that killing was immoral, but also that war was an inevitable part of life and therefore, an exception to the rule.
After enlisting I began the slow transformation into adulthood. Like many teenagers who leave their home for the first time, I went through a period of growth and soul searching. I encountered many new people and ideas that broadly expanded my narrow experiences. After reading essays by Bertrand Russel and traveling to the South Pacific and talking to people from all over the world, my beliefs about humanity and its relation to war changed. I began to see a bigger picture of the world and I started to reevaluate everything that I had been taught about war as a child. I developed the belief that taking human life was wrong and war was no exception. I was then able to clarify who I am and what it is that I stand for.
The thing that I revere most in this world is life, and I will never take another person's life.
Just as others have faith in God, I have faith in humanity.
I have a deeply held belief that people must solve all conflicts through peaceful diplomacy and without the use of violence. Violence only begets more violence.
Because I believe so strongly in non-violence, I cannot perform any role in the military. Any person doing any job in the Army, contributes in some way to the planning, preparation or implementation of war.
For eighteen months, while my CO status was pending, I have honored my commitment to the Army and done everything that they asked of me. However, I was ordered to Ft. Benning last Sunday to complete weapons training in preparation to deploy for war.
Now I have come to the point where I am forced to choose between my legal obligation to the Army and my deepest moral values. I want to make it clear that I will not compromise my beliefs for any reason. I have a moral obligation not only to myself but to the world as a whole, and this is more important than any contract.
I have come to my beliefs through personal, intense reflection and study. They are everything that I am and all that I stand for. After much thought and contemplation about the effect my decision will have on my future, my family, the possibility of prison, and the inevitable scorn and ridicule that I will face, I am completely resolute.
I will exercise my every legal right not pick up a weapon, and to participate in war effort. I am determined to be discharged as a CO, and while undergoing the appeals process; I will continue to follow orders that do not conflict with my conscience until my status has been resolved. I am prepared to accept the consequences of adhering to my beliefs.
What characterizes a conscientious objector is their willingness to face adversity and uphold their values at any cost. We do this not because it is easy or popular, but because we are unable to do otherwise. Thank You."
- Katherine Jashinski, at the gates of Ft. Benning, GA, November 17, 2005.
IVAW stands behind Army National Guard Specialist Katherine Jashinski, and in supporting Katherine, we support GI Rights.
Military personnel sign enlistment contracts and accept commissions to defend the Constitution of the United States, but they are not required to surrender their conscience when they do. Military enlistees, especially young people who did not conscientiously object to war when they enlisted, may have experiences or teachings that reshape their religious, moral, or ethical beliefs after their enlistment. When a GI’s religious, moral, or ethical beliefs no longer permit him or her to participate in war in any form, then military regulations provide a both legal and fully honorable discharge, a testament to all Americans’ fundamental freedom of conscience.
Katherine applied for Conscientious Objector (CO) status in 2004, putting her on the frontline in a battle to preserve Americans’ freedom of conscience. While her request has been pending, Katherine has made every effort to honorably uphold her enlistment contract. Her command recommended disapproval based on when she applied, and after almost a year, the Department of Army’s Conscientious Objector Review Board recently ruled that she did not present clear and convincing evidence to be classified as a Conscientious Objector.
A military CO must prove:
1. Objection to participation in war in any form, and that
2. Religious, moral, and/or ethical beliefs are deeply and sincerely held, and that
3. He/she was not a CO at the time of enlistment, but that a conscientious objection to war formed after enlistment.
However, as anyone in the military can attest, GIs don’t get briefings on what to do if in a moral, ethical, or religious struggle with one’s conscience, or how to prepare evidence proving one's sincerity. As was Katherine’s case, many in the military may not even know that a service member can apply for CO status and discharge.
Only now, as a very last resort, and in the face of disciplinary action, a dishonorable discharge, or even jail, has Katherine refused to deploy in order to maintain her spiritual integrity. We believe Katherine's forced deployment would be yet another in a long line of actions by the military to defy its own rules to get the numbers of people they need to continue this war.