Captain Mary Hanna, US Army (Reserve), has decided that green just isn’t her color.
Captain Hanna signed an agreement with the United States Army back in 1997. In exchange for the Army paying for her schooling, she would serve four years on active duty, then four more in the Reserve. She’s finishing up her residency at Tufts University, but now she’s not so eager to fulfill her agreement.
She says that since she agreed to that standard contract, she’s experienced a renewal of her Coptic Christian faith, and as such she can not in good conscience participate in war or anything that offers the slightest bit of support for war.
The army, on the other hand, says that it really could use Dr. Hanna’s services. It says it needs 95 anaesthesiologists, and it currently has only 75. And more to the point, she signed a contract — one which they’ve lived up to their end.
The Army has even offered Captain Hanna guarantees that she will not serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other potential war zone, but that’s not good enough for her. She sees serving in the Army in any way, shape, or form as lending support to warfare, and simply cannot do it in good conscience.
I have a few thoughts about this matter. Does that mean that a civilian Dr. Hanna would refuse to treat police officers, who use force in the line of duty? How about criminals? Would her devout beliefs conflict with her Hippocratic Oath in such a case?
Captain Hanna, through her attorney, says that she is willing to repay the Army for the $184,000 it has invested in her so far. I think that’s a nice gesture, but a little short. I’d like to see her not only repay her own debt, but double it — to train her replacement. And all of it up front, not over time. The Army’s program is NOT a loan program, but a “quid pro quo” arrangement. She violated it, and to reduce it to a simple “here’s your money back” deal threatens to undermine the whole program’s very existence.
That’s just for starters. I’d like to see the civilian Dr. Hanna banned from receiving any sort of government aid, fees, or the like. After all, she is rejecting the Army, and the Army is an essential part of the government. To accept payment from the government that created, sustains, commands, uses, and relies on the Armed Services should be just as morally repugnant as working for the Army directly.
I’m glad Captain Hanna found her faith, and has it to comfort her. It’s just too bad it conflicts so strongly with her prior oaths — both the one she swore when she was commissioned an officer in the United States Army and the one she took as a physician.