Contrast this with a combat soldier in Iraq. On patrol, life on the line everyday. Seeing his buddies killed, wounded. The "birder" and the combat soldier is hardly equitable in the big picture. This isn't a putdown of the "birder" soldier. More power to him for using his year productively. But, an examble of the inequities of war.
Why is this important? It is only in terms of understanding. All war time soldiering is not equal.