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lebkuchen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 11:13 AM
Original message
Stars and Stripes letters, Sept. 7 -13
Im writing to inform readers that the National Guard and Reserve
components are getting dragged across the coals.

Im in the National Guard and was activated to Camp Doha, Kuwait, in
January. We ended up staying at Fort Carson, Colo., for a month and finally
got here in February. Im with an Engineer Utility Team, which means we
maintain Camp Doha and the surrounding camps. Weve built offices and
sand tables, and even painted the airfield taxi lines by hand. Weve done
everything that theyve set in front of us.

Weve been in country for almost seven months and have just been
informed that the Guard and Reserve components cant take rest and
recuperation leave. But active-duty servicemembers can and have taken
R&R leave after their initial six months in country.

Active-duty servicemembers also have some clue as to when theyre getting
sent home. But we dont have a set date. Weve heard rumors about staying
until November or next February.

As guardsmen we become Title 10 soldiers, which means we get put into
active-duty status. Yet theres a double standard. How is this supposed to
be an Army of one?.

Sgt. Brad M. Podany
Camp Doha, Kuwait

Im deployed out of the 16th Signal Battalion from Fort Hood, Texas. The
heat is one thing, but the leadership toward soldiers is another. I hope
someone will listen to what we have to say instead of not wanting to get
involved. It would help out a lot.

On Jan. 20, we were called in on our day off to report to base because we
were headed to Turkey. Then things changed and we ended up in Iraq
looking for Saddam Hussein. While we had orders to leave in January, we
still didnt leave until April 6. Nobody has answers to our questions, so
were frustrated.

I have a lieutenant colonel who took it upon himself to bring the whole
battalion out to Iraq instead of the two companies that were supposed to
come. This hurt a lot of fellow soldiers who were wondering why. It was
because the lieutenant colonel pushed for us to come so he could get his
promotion. Hes not out here with us anymore because he knew when we
were coming that hed be on a plane leaving his soldiers behind. I dont
understand how he can call himself a leader after a power move like that.
Since arriving in Iraq Ive seen my lieutenant colonel, command sergeant
major and first sergeant all leave. Now Im hearing that my company
commander is starting the process to leave us as well.

We were told our mission was for six months. Now theyre telling us it will
be a whole year, and were without a mission.

While in Iraq Ive received a lot of bad news which makes it hard to
function without my family. I had two uncles die within five days, and my
wife was giving birth at the same time. Can readers believe that my old and
new lieutenant colonels both wouldnt let me go home?

I thank Stars and Stripes for listening to soldiers. I respect Stripes for that. I
ask Stripes to please keep supporting us throughout our peacekeeping in

Pfc. Preston J. Graves
Al Asad, Iraq

On behalf of myself and the many guardsmen and reservists here in Iraq, I
want to provide a viewpoint from an E-5 guardsmans perspective.

First Id like to commend the writer of the letter One-year deployment too
long (Aug. 5).

I and the nine soldiers with me have been away from our homes since Feb.
16. I havent seen my wife and children since April 20.

Im part of a 10-man detachment. We specialize in water well drilling. So
far weve drilled wells in two separate locations and have had no success.
Were working with equipment that had sat on its rear for 15 years. Then
weve overloaded it with work in a 24-hour operation for 25 to 30 days
straight. And thats not to mention the work of 10 men. This has produced a
host of mechanical breakdowns. But despite a lack of parts, weve
continued the mission with some redneck engineering and good mechanics.
So far our water wells have produced nothing but salty water and the stench
of sulfur that smells like boiled eggs. Excuse me for asking, but hasnt Iraqs
water source been from rivers for the past several thousand years?

On a more personal note, my wife and I have six children together ranging
from 5 to 15. We also have a lawn and landscape business. At least I hope
we still have a business when I get home. My absence has placed a
tremendous burden on my wifes shoulders. Im wondering if the Army and
my government will be there to help me keep my business afloat when or if I
get home. I know Im not the only guardsman or reservist with similar

A one-year rotation for me and other guardsmen is not a morale booster or
an incentive to remain in the Guard. Can I go home now? I have a wife, four
stepchildren, and a livelihood that needs my attention.

Sgt. Dale Brown

I keep seeing articles and hype about Jessica Lynch, who the Army has
deemed a hero. Quite frankly, its starting to make me sick. Im not saying
that what she went through wasnt hard, but come on. The investigation
showed discrepancies in the stories. First, her injuries came from hitting the
truck in front of her, not from any enemy activity. Second, she never fired
her weapon. Third, she was not taken to an Iraqi hospital as a POW. And
were honoring her as a hero?

Unfortunately, I cant be deployed due to injuries I sustained before all this
happened. But there are other soldiers who are more worthy of being
labeled heroes than Lynch. One of them was my best friend, Spc. Craig S.
Ivory. He was like my little brother. He recently passed away due to a
blood clot in the back of his brain. He was a hero.

Spc. Ivory was a combat medic with the 501st Forward Support Battalion,
173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade. He saved lives and kept the soldiers under
his care healthy and able to continue to fight. He was recognized on AFN
television for his duties and what he and his medic team were doing and
accomplishing. Spc. Ivory continued to take care of other soldiers even
when his own health was deteriorating. He took the time to make sure that
all his patients made it home alive. Some of those soldiers couldnt be
saved, but he did everything in his power to make every effort to save them.

Spc. Ivory also went on countless patrols and looked out for the members
of his patrol teams. He did his job and did it well. That is heroism the
selfless service to take care of others before ones self.

I know Ill get some feedback on this letter, and some people will say Im
off my rocker. But theres no one on this earth who can tell me that my
friend, my little brother, wasnt a hero. He was small in stature but big when
it came to the size of his heart. Hes left some big shoes to fill. I tip my hat
and salute Spc. Ivory for all that he did. He constantly looked up to me and
I always looked out for him. Now I look up to him.

Sgt. Paul Dietrich
Vicenza, Italy

Whats the big deal with Jessica Lynch? Her convoy got ambushed and she
was left for dead, captured and then rescued. She did nothing and shes a
hero? Plus she was not the only prisoner of war who was rescued.

Dont get me wrong. Im very glad that she didnt die. But she did nothing.
How about the guys who saved her? No one hears about them or the many
other soldiers whove been wounded or died. They get a word if theyre
lucky. Theyre not getting $1 million for getting injured, getting out of the
Army and writing a book about it.

This makes me very upset. How many other POWs have there been who
didnt get anything? And how many are still out there? And Lynch gets $1
million for being there. So can anyone please tell me why Lynch is getting all
of this money and fame while everyone else gets nothing or just a blurb here
and there?

Sgt. Josh Frischman
Heidelberg, Germany

Im posted in Balad, Iraq. Since my arrival, Ive read numerous letters from
soldiers complaining about living conditions, food, the mail, telephones and
Internet connections, the heat, dust, laundry, communal showers, etc. But I
havent seen a single letter complaining about the one thing that grates on me
the most: burning human feces.

The burning takes place daily, morning and evening. One can see and smell
the black smoke and fumes emanating from the cut up drums of waste
mixed with JP-8. Gallons and gallons of fuel are mixed and burnt for hours,
permeating the air we breathe, contaminating our tents and clothes, and
potentially doing harm to our health.

Well never get indoor plumbing. That would be asking too much. But how
about just plain, old-fashioned chemical toilets?

Martin Ayala
Camp Anaconda, Iraq

Im the spouse of an active-duty soldier stationed in Europe. I read Stars
and Stripes almost daily. Lately Ive read numerous letters to the editor
written by soldiers. Some of these soldiers complain. Others write in
response to the soldiers who complained. Ive noticed that many people
make statements like, Dont like it? Get out. Or things like, You
shouldnt have been so naive to not know what you were getting into. And
also, You joined of your own free will. Well, thats true. But some people
dont know what exactly it is theyre getting into.

My husband joined so we could raise a family and have free housing,
medical coverage, 30 days of vacation a year, life insurance and a chance to
tour Europe. What a pretty picture we were painted! It sounded great. But
no one told us about working 15 hours a day, field time every other month
for 25 days at a time, rotations to Kosovo for months on end, and the
possibility that we would be apart for one year due to Operation Iraqi
Freedom. That never crossed our minds. We figured on field time and a
possible six-month rotation. But a year? Never.

We also never imagined being treated like dirt when my husband is home. I
was in Germany for six months before I knew exactly what a Family
Readiness Group is. We took cabs and rented cars for three months to get
groceries and get my husband to and from work. I heard things like,
families stick together and that the Army is firm on family values. Well, in
response to all those who say, Dont like it? Get out, I say dont worry. In
two years and 11 months, we will!

Misty Lewis
Schweinfurt, Germany

This is in response to the letter No sympathy (Aug. 31). What is it that
warrants the label complainer that I see all the time? Having spent almost
seven years on active duty and two years in the National Guard qualifies me
to make the assertion that these two components are actually different.
Imagine that! Different commitments, different resources and different
capabilities. I know this is where the tiresome retort But you volunteered!
comes in. I sure did. And I dont mind being deployed here in the Balkans.
But that doesnt change the undeniable fact that in the Guard, people
primarily sign up to be full-time civilians and part-time soldiers. So I do have
a certain measure of sympathy for them.

Who makes up the Guard? Were police officers, teachers, truck drivers,
paramedics, warehouse managers, construction workers and college
students. Through our own lives, we contribute to society. And in times of
national crisis, we know that the National Guard is expected to help
augment or supplement active components. But I take exception to the
opinions of the letter writer and others like him who demonstrate ignorance
when they cant tell the difference between a legitimate concern and a
complaint. If theyd listen to these complaints, theyd hear that these
whiners are simply wondering what purpose they now have in the Middle
East. After all, didnt President Bush declare an end to combat operations
and thereby reduce the number of troops there?

Never mind that we miss our families. Im certain that it happens to
everybody regardless of component and service. But leaders are failing
those under their charge when they cant instill a sense of purpose in those
they lead, be it moral or objective. Could it be our civilian leadership has
failed the letter writer in the Middle East? My only hope is that the letter
writer and others like him never get to lead troops if the best they can do is
dismiss everything as complaints and everyone as whiners. Thats lazy
thinking, if its thinking at all.

Staff Sgt. Howie Hu
Eagle Base-Connor
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ive been in Kuwait for several months and have had a good time reading
the letters to the editor, both pro and con, about conditions here in Kuwait
and in Iraq. Were all entitled to our own opinions, and heres mine: Anyone
who says that they love it here should have their heads examined. None of
us should love it here when we have loved ones back home worried to
death about our well-being. We should just do what it takes to get the job
done and go home to our families and careers.

Second, all of the professional soldiers who get a kick out of making fun of
the folks who happen to air their gripes should grow up. How would they
like it if someone criticized them when they weeped about something in their
lives? The last time I looked, we were all on the same team, whether it be
active duty, Guard or Reserve. Lets start respecting everyones right to
gripe and not be vicious about it.

Thomas F. Curran Jr.
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Im in a Reserve unit thats been in theater since April 15. Were going to
be in Iraq for who knows how long. Im an Active Guard Reserve, and my
expiration, term of service date was in July. I went to check when I can get
out of the system and was told that since my orders have me deployed with
a Reserve unit, I have to stay until the unit is demobilized and a period of 90
days following the units demobilization.

Whats the point of having an Army of one when we still have different
standards and regulations? Wherever I go Im considered active duty, yet I
fall under Reserve rules for the most part.

I know soldiers who are active duty, and theyve been allowed to ETS from
Iraq. So why cant AGR and Reserve soldiers ETS from theater? I think the
Army has a double standard. If soldiers are coming up on their ETS dates
and they dont want to re-enlist, then they should be allowed to get out.

What happened to this being a voluntary Army?

Staff Sgt. Hector Martinez
Baghdad, Iraq

I joined the Reserve so I could be a part of the great Army of One. But
the Army of One is only for active-duty soldiers. It hasnt been so great
for us here in Kuwait. As a reservist, I should be treated like an active-duty
soldier. Therefore, active-duty or Reserve soldiers who were deployed for
six months or longer should be able to leave when their time comes.
Active-duty soldiers shouldnt get to leave first and then the Reserves may
go after everyone has gone.

One thing no one is looking at is that active duty soldiers will always have
jobs and the means to support their families. But reservists have only their
jobs to support their families. When I joined the Reserve, I realized I was
never promised anything. But it just seems to me that if Im willing to give
my life for something I believe in, then maybe someone should be able to
realize the problems were facing and be willing to say something. They
shouldnt tell us its our problem, because how do they expect soldiers to
do their jobs when back home things arent working out too well?

A lot of readers may think that I should stop my complaining and crying.
Thats OK, because I deserve to complain and cry. So before judging me,
readers should please put themselves in my reservist boots and then see if I
have the right to complain.

Its already hard to focus on being here for six more months. They told us
that they were working on a window of six months or a little more to get us
home. But once again that turned out to be just another rug pulled out from
under us. So now were stuck here until January 2004 or thereafter. By
then, of course, Ill be unemployed. So how can we keep up the good work
like everyone is telling us?

I have no morale left in me. The 38 soldiers in my unit are slowly losing any
faith they had in getting home before Thanksgiving or Christmas. I hope no
other reservists or guardsmen will ever have to go through what were going

Benjamin Mungin

I say enough already to all the people taking issue with the complaints from
soldiers in Iraq about how long theyve been serving. I have all the respect
in the world for veterans of previous wars. But in World War II,
servicemembers knew that when Germany, Japan and Italy were defeated,
theyd go home. In Korea, soldiers knew that when they stopped North
Korea, theyd go home. In Vietnam, they knew that when they stopped the
North Vietnamese, theyd go home.

So can anyone tell me at what point the war on terrorism ends? Terrorism
has been around for as long as man has fought man. So those criticizing the
complainers should please stop saying that the troops will come home when
the war on terror is over unless they can tell the soldiers who are fighting
the war when it will end.

I dont know about the rest of those in the military, but I only intended to
sign up for 20 years and then retire. I never planned on serving for the rest
of my life.

Spc. Scott Austin
Eagle Base, Bosnia

Im writing about all the people who are telling deployed troops to stop
crying about the Iraq deployment. Ive heard enough. Im sick and tired of
people pretending everything is well in Iraq and that its not supposed to be
any other way because there are certain circumstances that come with

Id like those who say our troops complain too much to think about how
often they shower each week, how often they have hot meals that dont say
MRE on the package, how often they write e-mails to friends, and how
often they telephone loved ones.

Id also like them to think about how many days they work without at least
a couple hours of sleep, how often they get to shut a door behind
themselves to have a minute to themselves, and how often they sit
somewhere in an empty building on a stakeout or stand on top of a bridge to
guard a road in bright sunlight for 12 hours.

I believe the people who say soldiers complain too much dont do these
things. I bet they phone their loved ones a couple of times a week and have
Internet access.

My husband has been deployed with the 1st Armored Division since April.
We talk by phone about once every three weeks for 20 minutes. Some of
the letters I write never get to him, and Internet access works the same way
as the phones. My husband hardly gets any time off. His letters break my
heart. Hes sick and tired of being down there. Hes getting burned out, and
theres nothing I can do to help him.

I have fears every day that my husband is getting his head blown off up on
that bridge. Letters take a long time, if they get here at all. When I read them
I know that he was doing as good as he could two weeks ago. But what
about today or yesterday? Every time I talk to him he sounds more tired and
worn out.

Please dont tell me the soldiers in Iraq shouldnt complain. Were into the
fifth month of them being gone and issues dont improve at all. Instead
they get worse.

I believe more people should complain about our troops quality of living, if
thats what anyone wants to call it, and shout for improvements. How are
things supposed to change if nobody points out the problems? With all the
things going wrong, I wont be surprised to see the Army shrink by the end
of this deployment.

All the deployed soldiers who point out stuff thats going wrong should keep
doing it and pray for improvements. They should keep their heads high.
Theyre doing a great job considering the circumstances. Theyll all be home
in no time, and well be here waiting for them.

Stefanie Spears

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ewagner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
1. Anybody notice the undertone?
There's a rift between "REgular Army" and the Guards and Reserves, that will be devastating to recruitment efforts.
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smaug Donating Member (146 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yes, and this is a serious morale issue
There's always been a bit of tension between the reserve element and regular military. However, there isn't any difference during wartime. The problem here is that the Deserter in Thief has declared the war over, several months ago, and they (Reserve/Guard units) are still forward deployed.

These service members are living in conditions which are unimaginable to the chickenhawks who sent them over for domestic political purposes. Since the Thief's misadministration doesn't have a clue how to manage a war (maybe Powell should give Auntie Donnie some advice), they've not managed to do anything, from supply to mail, right. I was involved in some longtime deployments when I was in the Navy, including a 3 year overseas stint, with one leave for ten days (nothing like being classified 'critical MOS'; know the name of that tune). However, these are Reserve/Guard members, and they're being economically destroyed and discriminated against for being a part of of Aunt Donnie's <sarcasm> Defense Department </sarcasm>.

National Guard units are not organized for long term deployments unless in case of critical war such as WWII or Korea. Notice that LBJ didn't send National Guard and Air Guard to Vietnam. Why? Deploying National Guard/Reserve units to a trumped up excuse of a war for would have been political disaster at home. Sound familiar, anyone?

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