"This has always been a possibility," he said. "I have always been a member of the army reserves, it is just not anything I talk about for legal reasons. The bottom line is, I can't if I'm on active duty, be in charge of VoteVets anymore."
"I'm not an idiot. I've known the possibilities of this for a long time," he added. "I get the honor to be probably in the last rotation in Iraq. My order is for 12 months and if you take a look at that timetable, December 2011 will be when all U.S. troops come out anyway."
It is, he admits, a telling irony that he will be part of the unit to formally close out America's mission in Iraq. Starting in 2006, Soltz and VoteVets were some of the loudest, most frequently quoted voices arguing that continued troop presence in Iraq was damaging to larger U.S. national security interests. They opposed the war and, soon thereafter, the troop surge announced by President George W. Bush. To now be the coda on the policy prescription that he so vehemently opposed says a lot, not just about the war but Soltz himself.
"I think he is, first of all, very wise to keep his commitment alive to the army and go back in and continue his army service," said retired General Wesley Clark, who serves on VoteVets' board of advisers. "I think that is what public service is all about. When you are a soldier you go where the country tells you to go. When you are out of uniform and on civilian time you can express your personal opinion."
Soltz's public service isn't just expressed by his military service and his return to Iraq--he did a tremendous public service in bringing the service member's perspective to opposition to the Iraq War. VoteVets also In the interim, VoteVet's vice chairman and Iraq War vet Ashwin Madia will chair the group.
Best of luck, Jon!