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Statement by SPC Kyle Wesolowski

September 21, 2010
SPC Kyle Wesolowski

SPC Kyle Wesolowski, Buddhist Conscientious Objector

Statement by SPC Kyle Wesolowski

My name is Specialist Wesolowski and I am a Buddhist conscientious objector in the United States Army. I filed for CO status several months ago and my claim has been recommended for approval by a military chaplain and a psychiatrist. After a hearing on my claim, I was recommended for approval by the investigating officer.

My unit Delta Company 1-12 Cav, Fort Hood, TX (Cpt. Lockhart, commander) with full knowledge that I am sincere CO applicant, has stopped at nothing to do whatever they can to sabotage my process. This includes harassment, threats of physical abuse and religious discrimination. These actions forced me to submit an appeal for redress (a precursor to a formal Article 138 complaint) to ask that the command follow the law and cease from harassing me based on my status as a CO applicant. This did little to stop them and the harassment continued, so I was forced to place an IG complaint against my 1st Sgt Gonzalez.

The continuation of harassment is evidence that the system the Army has in place to protect it’s soldiers is a facade used to project an illusion of a safe work environment.

Unfortunately, my experience of physical threats, religious persecution, and general abuse seems to speak of a system that appears to be broken. This is evidenced by my exhaustion of all of the Army avenues as stated above to resolve my issues: (1) speaking to my chain of command on several occasions, (2) the article 138 process, and (3) an IG complaint. Having taken these measures with no avail (and given my unit’s decision to send me out on field exercises) it appears that I have no other recourse but to now refuse all duties that prepare myself for war or aid in any way shape or form to other soldiers in conditioning them to go to war.

Therefore, in compliance with Army regulations, I refuse to take part in any field exercises that go against my core values as a Buddhist such as but not limited to: handling of ammunition and weapons under any circumstances, maintenance of any army vehicles, taking part in any classes in army job education as these activities prepare either myself or others for war. Participation in such activities is perpetuation of war which is an objection of my conscience.

Disclaimer: This statement does not reflect the views of the US Army or the DOD.

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9 Comments
  1. Dear Kyle,

    I am a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest and I was a conscientious objector during Viet Nam. I would like to offer whatever support to you that I can.

    Here is my BIO: http://www.engaged-zen.org/Kobio.html

    Please let me know how I can help.

    Kobutsu

  2. zan thornton permalink

    We chant for ur safety and safe return home. I served in 82-88 in the Chem co. and they don’t (still don’t) recognize all different forms of Buddhism. I am with SGI NOT a Zen group. I applaud ur service as a soilder and co. THANK U FOR SERVING AND BEING A CO!NAMASTE!

  3. zan thornton permalink

    My spell check changed some words so forgive me for those

  4. As you lead yourself through this vast challenge you will learn the skills necessary to lead others out from their own fear, misinformation, and trauma of conscience.
    I salute you and wish you the very best.
    Metta
    tom loret
    ps. check out my website’s Political Graphics…I do anti-war, -violence, -stupidity art.

  5. Larry Egly permalink

    Kyle,

    I realize that you and I are of differnt faiths, but both Buddhism and the Mennonite Church USA, my faith, reject war and violence of all types. I will place you on my daily prayer list,as well as ask the members at my chuch to pray for you as well. If you want to come to church with me this Sunday, I know we would pray for you as a group. We did this for Victor Agosto, and he seemed to appreaciate it, athough he is an atheist.
    You can call(254.630.9141 or email(legly@hot.rr.com)if you would like. I want to be supportive of your efforts.

    Peace,

    Larry

  6. Marion permalink

    Hey Kyle. We met briefly last summer at Under the Hood when I dropped by with my sister and boyfriend. Just wanted to let you know that you have our support. The system really is broken and needs to be replaced with a completely fresh way of thinking. Clearly, you’ve already taken steps tpwards positive change for yourself and others.

    Good luck.

  7. Jane Collins permalink

    You are very brave! Perhaps you will give other soldiers the courage to refuse to fight. I am a Unitarian-Universalist and our former minister became a Buddhist. He gave many interesting sermons in which he shared his new insights. I am also a Montessori teacher and we have a peace curriculum. I know that when you speak against war, you face harassment that those of us outside the military do not face. On the other hand, when you speak out, you are influencing the most important people——-other soldiers. Thank you for taking action!

  8. Sam DeWitt permalink

    Just wanted to lend my words of support.

    I imagine that what you are going through must be so intensely difficult. You are standing firm for your beliefs in a culture that is designed from the ground up to instill conformity and unity in its members, and no matter what “regulations” they may have in place to make it seem that they have a legal and systematic way of dealing with folks who decide that they do not want to conform, it seems quite evident from yours and others experience that they have no actual interest in dealing with those like you.

    I am sure this book has been pointed out to you a hundred times by now, but I thought it was a great read, and really showed the pressures of doing what you are trying to do –

    “The Sutras of Abu Ghraib: Notes from a Conscientious Objector” by Aidan Delgado.

    He also was seeking CO status on the grounds of his Buddhist faith, and this was happening while he was stationed at Abu Ghraib right after the notorious pictures came out showing the abuses that were systemic there.

    He made it through this nightmare experience and now is one of the most well know anti-war vets out there. So please do not give up, or give in. There will be a time when this is all behind you, and you can hold your head high knowing that you have not compromised your beliefs due to the worst kind of peer pressure.

    Good luck!!

    Sam

  9. You are truly a teacher to so many. Thank you.

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