Accessibility links

Former Army Captain Wins Case to Avoid Tour of Duty in Iraq

A U.S. Army captain has won a federal lawsuit, challenging the Army's right to extend his enlistment and send him to Iraq. The Army asked him to report to Iraq, even though he submitted resignation papers in June, after eight years of service.

Jay Ferriola, 31, claimed in the suit that the Defense Department and the Army violated his due process rights, and were forcing him into what his lawyers call "involuntary servitude."

The court found that Mr. Ferriola had followed the proper resignation procedures, but the Army apparently did not process his paperwork, leading to the deployment order.

An Army spokeswoman said the Army would have no comment on the case.

Mr. Ferriola, who received an honorable discharge Friday, says he was not afraid of going to Iraq, nor does he oppose the war. He just wanted to return to civilian life.

"I fulfilled my obligation," he said. "I resigned, I didn't think I was going to be called back. It wasn't a fear of going over. It was more that I completed my obligation. And I was continuing my career in the civilian world, and I didn't want to give up or lose 18 months of my life."

In order to maintain the number of troops stationed in Iraq, the U.S. Army has extended the enlistments of thousands of soldiers and reservists, a move critics describe as a "backdoor draft."

Mr. Ferriola's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, says he believes the case will set a precedent for other soldiers who are facing redeployment to Iraq.

"There are many soldiers who have completed their obligation, and should not be called back. And based upon this historic decision, they will not be called back," said Mr. Slotnick.

Mr. Ferriola says he enrolled in the Army to serve his country and to pay for a scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute, but never intended to make military service his lifelong career.