Glacier Media


As an American teen, I was militantly opposed to the military draft. That is, until I found myself at the age of 18 at loose ends. Knowing that I was “1A” meant that sooner or later I would get that dreaded letter inviting me to enter military service. So I pre-empted that fate by signing on with the U.S. Army. As a volunteer, I had an option as to the specialized training I might be given. As a new soldier, it was common to ask others how they came to be soldiers. A frequent answer was: “The judge said two years in jail or two years in the army.” The choice was simple. As a soldier, one could expect to learn some skills useful in civilian life, as well as earning a reference. As a prisoner, one also could learn “skills” and a criminal record that would plague one for the rest of his life. I have seen both alternatives in action, first as a common soldier and then as a Canadian prison guard. Believe me, the military is the better choice. A frequent sentence meted out by our local courts is “two years less a day” in custody, invoking a wasted spell in unsavoury company while one earns a permanent record. I believe that we could do well by giving those convicted of minor offense the option of military service to the nation or just plain “serving time.” This option might be welcomed by many as an alternative to a lifetime in and out of prison. James Loughery, Prince George