SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network) – “It’s amazing how hard it is to stereotype soldiers and put them in a box once you get to know them,” said Michael J. Sharp, a counselor with Military Counseling in Germany, where 70,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed. Sharp was speaking to a group gathered at the Center for Peace & Nonviolence, a network of 12 ecumenical churches in St. Joseph County, Ind.
Sharp and his colleagues at MCN help guide soldiers through the multi-step process required by military regulations on their way to seeking conscientious objector status. Thus far in 2006, every applicant the organization has worked with has successfully gained honorable discharge as a CO.
Since the war in Iraq began, the number of enlisted soldiers seeking CO status has been steadily on the rise, although it is difficult to determine exactly how many are involved.
“The military is the only organization that keeps track of how many apply and how many are denied in all the branches,” Sharp said. “We keep our own numbers, but there’s no way for them to be complete.”
Sharp was in South Bend June 23-July 2 as part of a tour he and colleague David Stutzman have undertaken over the summer to raise awareness about MCN.
To view their speaking itineraries, go to the MCN Web site: http://www.mc-network.de/