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The Nation

Honorable Discharge in Iraq Deployment Case

Capt. Jay Ferriola drops his lawsuit against the Army for assigning him to active duty after his contract had expired and he had resigned.

November 06, 2004|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — The Army has agreed to honorably discharge a captain who challenged his assignment to Iraq in court, saying he had properly resigned.

Jay Ferriola, 31, emerged smiling from U.S. District Court on Friday after his lawyer, Barry Slotnick, told a judge that Ferriola was withdrawing his legal challenge because the Army had formally and honorably discharged him.

"I'm very happy," Ferriola said.

Ferriola, a New Yorker who had served in South Korea and Bosnia, said he brought his lawsuit two weeks ago because he was assigned to Iraq even though he had told the Army in June that he was resigning because his eight-year term was finished.

The Army had not acted on his resignation request until he sued the government.

"It wasn't a fear of going over," Ferriola said. "I didn't want to lose 18 months of my life whether I was going to Iraq or Paris."

In a similar case in California, however, a federal judge on Friday declined to block the deployment to Iraq of an Army National Guardsman who said his duty time was wrongly extended under the military "stop-loss" policy.

The cases reflect a sensitive issue over how the United States maintains its level of armed forces in Iraq, where an intense insurgency has prompted Pentagon policy makers to seek ways to supply troops.

Ferriola's suit had charged that the Army's deployment order, dated Oct. 8, violated his constitutional rights against "involuntary servitude" and breached his military contract.

Ferriola, who had enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in exchange for a scholarship at Virginia Military Institute, completed his eight years of service with the Army in February, and resigned in June.

In the California case, a National Guardsman listed in court documents as John Doe had filed a lawsuit last month challenging the stop-loss policy.

The military has extended the man's service term and plans to send him to Iraq in two weeks. The federal judge in Sacramento on Friday denied Doe's request for a preliminary injunction to block the deployment.

The judge said Doe's challenge appeared premature because his original period of enlistment was not due to expire until April 30, 2005. Doe has been assigned to a 545-day Iraq tour that would extend his total time under arms by nearly a year.

Doe's attorney, Michael Sorgen, said he would appeal the judge's ruling because the soldier was expected to be shipped out soon. The judge is due to hear the merits of the suit later this month.

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