In 2002, I joined the Indiana National Guard. When I joined, I was told I would only be in combat if there were troops occupying the United States. I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. I had no conception I would be deployed to fight on foreign shores.

But in 2005, I was deployed with my unit to Camp Anaconda near Balad, Iraq. My job in Iraq was in military intelligence. Through this job I had access to a lot of information about what was happening on the ground in Iraq. I realised innocent people were being killed unjustly and I tried to quit the military while in Iraq. My commander told me I was stressed out and needed R&R, because I was doing a job I was not trained to do. I went home on leave and said I was not coming back. I was told desertion is punishable by death. I was Absent Without Leave (AWOL) in America for eight months. I searched the internet and found out about US war resisters in Canada. I arrived in Toronto two weeks later.

I should have been in New Orleans after Katrina, not in Iraq. I believe the Iraq War is illegal and morally wrong. I believe I have a duty to refuse to take part in a war not sanctioned by the United Nations, started on the basis of lies.

I have been in Toronto since August 2006. In my time here, I have been self-sufficient and I have made many friends. I have built a life here. Last week I was in Ottawa, when the House of Commons passed a motion saying that the Canadian government should make it possible for conscientious objectors to get permanent residence in Canada. The motion also said that all deportation proceedings against us should be stopped.

But I may be deported anyway. On 21 May I was told that my last chance to stay in Canada had failed, and I must leave by 12 June (since extended to 10 July). I know that if I return to the US I will face imprisonment and possibly a criminal record. I don’t think it is fair that I should be returned to the United States to face unjust punishment for doing what I felt morally obligated to do. I am hoping that Canada, which stayed out of the Iraq War for reasons similar to my own, will reverse the deportation order and let me stay, as parliament has urged. There are several dozen other war resisters like me in Canada now. They all deserve to stay here and get on with their lives. I hope the new American President will end the Iraq War and bring the troops home. But until that happens, I believe it is every soldier’s right to refuse to take part in that war, if that is what his or her conscience says they must do (via BBC).

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