Army Veteran Refuses to Shoot

Standing up for what he believed in, led one man to a life of homelessness.

In 2011 someone took the time to ask a homeless man looking for money about himself. What the man shared next was surprising.


The homeless man explained that he used to be in the Army. He considered it an honor to join the military and was proud that he could use his skills to serve his country. Because this man had been an avid hunter and a skilled one at that, he ended up being trained as a sniper. His job was to use precision and accuracy in order to shoot safely from a distance.


But just as he respected the lives of the animals he used to hunt, killing only what he needed in order to eat and using as much of the animal as possible, he found it difficult to take the lives of others he considered innocent.


One day he was instructed to shoot a woman in Iraq. With his hands on the trigger and his eyes on the woman, he began to tear up. Watching her doing seemingly nothing wrong and walking alongside children, the man couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.


Refusing to follow orders he was sentenced and put in prison for six months. Following his release the man found that his record seemed to follow him wherever he went making it nearly impossible to get a job. Refusing to end one woman's life put him in prison. Putting him in prison kept him from getting a job. Not getting a job led him to the streets.


Today the man lives without regrets. He may not have a home, a job, be able to eat or bathe regularly, or have any privacy, but he told his inquisitive donor that at least he can live with himself knowing that he never took the life of that Iraqi woman. The story left an impression on the donor and speaks about stereotypes that we often have of homeless men and women as well as about who it is that really has more to offer.

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