(Hurriyet Newspaper, 29 June 2013)
Would that he could hold a rifle...
Bayram Yilmaz lost his two arms and an eye
as the result of a mine explosion when he was
10 years old. He dedicated his life to sports
and was invited to the national handicapped
team. When Yilmaz turned 19 he applied to
the Sirnak Military Bureau for military service,
although he knew he would be exempted because
of his handicaps. However, his troubles began
when officials at the Sirnak bureau told him "you have
to get a report from GATA (main military hospital)
Yilmaz said that "I wanted to be a soldier, to
pay my citizenship debt." But to be exempted
from service he was sent to Ankara to get a
handicapped report. After an 18-hour journey
from Sirnak he arrived at GATA, where he told
officials "I'm a cilvilian survivor of a mine
explosion" and showed them his amputated
arms and missing eye.
Nevertheless, "I had to stay in Ankara for three
days to prove that I didn't have any arms or an
eye." After x-rays and an examination he got the
exemption reports but had to wait another day
to see a committee that would verify the reports.
Finally, Yilmaz spoke with an officer at GATA
who asked in wonder "how in the world could
they send you here? At least they could have
sent you to Diyarbakir." Yilmaz ultimately obtained
the exemption report from the committee.
Officials in Sirnak couldn't quite figure this one out.