Army statistics released this week show that the number of soldiers who are deserting is on the rise.
In 2006 nearly 32-hundred troops went AWOL. The first quarter of this fiscal year, more than 18-hundred have already deserted and the Army predicts that by the end of the fiscal year that number will reach close to 35-hundred.
11 News spoke with a Fort Carson soldier who left two months prior to his deployment and was gone for about six months, now he's facing jail time.
"It just all got to me and so I took off," he said.
A sergeant with the 1/9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, he wants to remain anonymous, but says he just desperately needed some time away.
"My wife and I were having our first child, halfway through the pregnancy we had a miscarriage and I went in and tried to get leave, some vacation but they denied it," the soldier said.
And that's when he says he made the decision to leave.
"I know it wasn't the right thing to do, but it's family issues and there's nobody else I could turn to."
Now he's facing desertion charges with the intent to avoid hazardous duty, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.
"They’re looking at me spending 10 months in prison after I gave them seven years. I understand I made a mistake, I admit it but I think everyone deserves a second chance," he said.
But Fort Carson officials say desertion is taken even more seriously when a soldier leaves prior to a deployment. But in order to be charged they must prove there was no intent for the soldier to return. Something this soldier says he never even considered.
"I turned myself in and now I want to stay, I've even volunteered to be deployed back over, my unit is still over there," he said.
Prior to 2002 deserters basically went unpunished, but with the numbers on the rise, the military is cracking down.
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