How many people desert is not at all an issue here. The 'incredibly rare' in the article referred to deserters who get court martialed, which the article was deliberately trying to confuse with how many deserters are found, how many are arrested, how many are tried and or punished.
I definitely agree that court martials of deserters are rare, and the statistics support that (1-5% of desertions).
Is the guy being court martialled? No. So what is the relevance? And if he is, 5% of army deserters are court martialled so you can't say he's getting unheard of treatment. If you decide to desert, arrest and court martial is definitely a possibility, and a dishonorable discharge is virtually certain, despite the claims here that nothing is ever done.
As to actual numbers, 2002 has 3800 Army deserters:
Which was 1/6 the rate during the Vietnam war, according to that article.
2004 had 2,723 Army desertions and
2005 had 2,518 Army desertions in the first half, a big increase:
Probably since I think that was when they started with the extra long back to back deployments.
PLEASE note that that article's sidebar points out that NINETY FOUR percent of Army desertions result in a dishonorable discharge, and the other 6 percent get court martials and jail time.
I'll tell you what happened here. They arrested him before for this. When that happens, you are usually released on your own recognizance and given a date to return to the service at a specific base, where you stay while they process your dishonorable discharge. You better the hell make this appointment, just like if you are out on bail, you fuck better show up for the trial. If you don't return, then the next time they arrest you, they keep you and you will very likely get a court martial and jail time.
This guy is going to get court martialled and jail time because he skipped out on his requirement to present himself. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his making films. They treat everybody who skips out from their discharge processing this way.