Do you do your duty or do you hide for months and make excuses to avoid going into a place where you could get killed? Well, heck, if the maximum punishment for desertion is only "prison for a year and . . . a bad conduct discharge" why should you live up to your sworn duty and fulfill that commitment to serve when called. I mean, you only volunteered - it's not like you were drafted or anything. After all, if you choose to join up because you want that extra paycheck or help with college it doesn't really mean you should actually have to go to war.
Wars have bad collateral consequences - always have, always will. If you've been in long enough to rise to the level of SSG you are a professional and know this. I respect conscientious objectors but they make their status known from the beginning; they don't take what the government gives them for years and then bail out when they are called to fulfill the promise they made to get those checks and benefits. This is not about a religious/philosophical opposition to harming one's fellow man. This is about cowardice. Either the cowardice rising from the fear of harm of self or the cowardice of not wanting to face the realities of what occurs during combat (where there are always senseless deaths).
And the most he can get for deserting his unit and abandoning his fellow soldiers is A YEAR.