A judge convicted Sgt. Kevin Benderman of missing deployment with his military unit and sentenced him to 15 months in prison.More >>
Military and former military families have been following the case of Kevin Benderman, very closely. The Third Infantry Division mechanic missed his unit's deployment in January after he told his commanders he was seeking conscientious objector status.
Retired Brig. Gen. Dallas Brown, who served 30 years in the United States Army, saw the horrors of war firsthand in Vietnam, but he said war time is not the time to file for objector status.
"I think the ruling was right and just and proper," explained Gen. Brown.
Gen. Brown said Kevin Benderman had a job to do: protect the United States.
"Anyone who joins the military, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, regular or reserve, takes an oath. They swear to this," he added.
He said while there are arguments for objecting to war, war time is not the time to raise them.
"We do not have the option of selecting our wars," stated Gen. Brown. "Soldiers don't. If you had the option to disobey, you couldn't protect the nation. You wouldn't have a nation. You'd have chaos."
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, General Brown understands war's harsh realities, firsthand.
"He [Benderman] mentioned seeing a burned child or woman," he said. "I felt the same way the first time I saw that and the last time I saw that."
He felt Vietnam was ill-conceived, but he says he never thought of shirking his duty.
"It never occurred to me to resign or do anything except go and do the best I could," he explained.
Ultimately, he said, Benderman will face the consequences of his decisions, but Gen. Brown does not believe he's a bad person for those choices.
"I wouldn't say he's a bad person," he said. "I would say he's a misguided person."