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Oregon Soldier Gets Six Months Jail Time For Going AWOL

This week a military judge in Fort Knox sentenced Army Private First Class James Burmeister to six months in jail. Burmeister, who is from Eugene, fled to Canada after serving in Iraq.  KLCC’s Rachael McDonald reports.

James Burmeister was injured by a roadside bomb and he went AWOL while recuperating in Germany. Besides being given six months in jail, Burmeister was denied pay, reduced in rank to private and given a bad-conduct discharge that will deny him veterans benefits.

Burmeister’s mother Helen says the sentence was unfair.

Helen Burmeister: “I’m very disappointed in the way they feel they can treat veterans of war. I think the reason my son went AWOL was for a good reason. I don’t think he deserved the punishment he got.”

Helen Burmeister says she’s unsure whether to appeal the ruling because it could prolong James’s stay in jail.

James Burmeister says he left because of military “bait-and switch tactics”.  Soldiers would plant equipment to lure Iraqis whom American snipers could then kill.