San Jose Marine Gets Discharge for Being Conscientious Objector

April 2, 2007

Source: The Buddhist Channel/L.A. Times,3910,0,0,1,0

SAN JOSE, Calif. (USA) -- A federal judge in San Jose has taken the unusual step of ordering the Marine Corps to grant a reservist's request for a discharge as a conscientious objector.

Lance Cpl. Robert Zabala, 23, said he joined the Marines as part of a family tradition of military service. But he said he was shocked during boot camp here to find such a strong emphasis on killing.

According to court documents, Zabala said he was appalled by the "blood lust" of one officer and broke into tears when shown pictures of dead Iraqis. He said his informal study of Buddhism led him to a belief in the "sanctity of life."

Officers of his reserve regiment who initially reviewed his application, filed in June 2004, recommended that he be given a discharge. But a general turned down the application on grounds that Zabala's objection to war was not the product of religious devotion.

One officer, according to court papers, thought Zabala might be seeking a discharge to avoid going to Iraq.