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Sunday, Oct. 05, 2003 - 11:42 p.m.

Left waiting in Iraq

Catherine Hightower
October 5, 2003
Article Home

Blue Springs, Mo. -- My son-in-law is a member of the Missouri National Guard, currently stationed in Baghdad. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently visited Iraq. A few days before Rumsfeld's visit, my son-in-law's unit had received the news it had been awaiting eagerly: Its departure date from Iraq would be Dec. 3. This was the first time the men had been given an actual date after many months of wondering and questioning.

My son-in-law was among a small group of men who had lunch with Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was queried about the Dec. 3 departure date, and he assured the men that it was correct.

Three days later the media reported that the Defense Department was extending the tours of reservists and national guardsmen well past the one-year deployment. (Some of the men actually received this new from their families over the phone.) My son-in-law's unit now has a departure date of April 22.

Morale among my son-in-law's unit, already low, has plummeted even further. When he was first deployed, he was apprehensive but willing, as he said, "to serve my country."

He no longer believes what he is doing is serving his country in any way.

"We just patrol and do guard duty," he says. "We're walking targets."

These men feel that they are viewed by the Bush administration as expendable bodies.

"Bring 'em on," says our president. Lie to them, mislead them--no big deal. One or two killed each day--no big deal.

Is there any hope the Bush administration would surrender control of Iraq to an international force and take some pressure off our incredibly thin forces? Not a chance. That would mean American corporations would not be first in line for the lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq--if that time ever comes.

My son-in-law's first child is due to be born Jan. 3. Obviously he will not be here for the birth, a fact that matters only to us, his family.

Copyright 2003, Chicago Tribune

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Just a Reminder - Tuesday, Nov. 04, 2003
Ravyne Is Moving - Friday, Oct. 17, 2003
The Mission - Sunday, Oct. 12, 2003
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