March 31st, 2005 6:08 pm
Military Families and Anti-Draft Activists to Rally and Pack Courtroom in Support of Oregon Guardsman Challenging Stop Loss Program

PORTLAND, OR On April 6th, the 9th District Court of Appeals will hear the case of Emiliano Santiago. The case is challenging the stop loss policy that allows the Army to order soldiers who have already served out the length of time listed on their contracts to return to duty. Members of Military Families Speak Out will rally and then pack the court room to say "No to the Draft and Yes to Justice."

The plaintiff, Emiliano Santiago, now 27, signed up as a junior in high school for an 8-year term starting in 1996, at the age of 19. Though he was due to be honorably discharged on June 27 of last year, Santiago and his unit learned they would be redeployed in early February, this time to Afghanistan. According to his enlistment contract, the Army can extend the tour of National Guard soldiers for up to two years under certain emergency circumstances. In this lawsuit against the Army, Steven Goldberg, his attorney, a member of the NLG and its Military Law Task Force, argued that the Army must alert them to the extension before their term has finished. (Santiago was called to active duty after his contract had ended.) Goldberg is also challenging the validity of the "emergency circumstances" Santiago was called to fight under.

Another Soldier resisting the Stop Loss policy, Carl Webb had this to say "Stop Loss is practically an unofficial draft," he said. "It is conscription against a person's will. This policy is not only unethical, it is illegal."

Approximately 7,000 active-duty soldiers have also had their contracts extended under stop loss. Though some claim it's simply a "bookkeeping method," the date listed on the contracts under stop loss say that though the Army can only extend their tour of duty for up to two years, their contract will expire in 2031. They will not be on active duty until this time but they will not be able to be honorably discharged, or otherwise, until then. Santiago, who signed up for an 8-year term, will remain in the military for an additional 27 years. Some members of the National Guard who signed up for one year stints will also not see their term of service end until the year 2031. Many other members of the armed services have filed lawsuits countering the stop loss policy, but as of now none have been able to the policy frequently called the "backdoor draft."