For the Troops: Some Good News, Some Very Bad

by , posted on Saturday, August 6th, 2011 at 6:38 pm

My son spent last year and part of this one deployed in eastern Afghanistan, so the loss of dozens of troops we’ve experienced today in eastern Afghanistan strikes me much more personally than it might have a couple of years ago. It also strikes me as tragic that it takes such a large mass of casualties for the mainstream media to care enough to give an Afghanistan or Iraq war story headline room; most days, despite the fact that we most likely lost a man or woman or several in one of these wars on that day, it’s hard to tell from the press that we are still at war in two countries. Throughout my son’s deployment I struggled every day, every single day, to come to terms with the fact that he might not come home alive, and every single day I failed to be able to get my head around that.

One day I would get news of several of his friends and fellow platoon members being wounded or killed, another I would hear about some incredibly dangerous situation he somehow miraculously escaped unscathed, on another I would learn of plans and dreams he just hoped he would be able to come home and put in motion and I would be in tears with the fear that he would never have that chance, and then on yet another day I would hear…nothing at all. And those silences were the most terrifying by far. It was a terrible year.

My heart grieves for these 31 soldiers who will not come home to live out their dreams. May their families and loved ones find peace and comfort. As I said, I was never able to get my head around how one could possibly ever find peace or comfort in these circumstances, but it is my fervent wish for them nevertheless.

Army troops are just now getting this good news: deployments will be shortened to nine months from the standard twelve. Throughout my son’s deployment, people kept pointing out to me that Marines are only deployed in combat zones for six months, and would tell me it’s just not right that one platoon should be deployed for an entire year to the Afghanistan base most under attack. But year-long deployments are the standard in the Army, and I’ve never heard that they rotate units around to more safe, then less safe, stations during that term, as several people have told me is standard practice for Marines. Good to know they will now be experiencing shorter deployments.

Also a bit of good news for veterans on the jobs front, with the announcement by Obama yesterday that a new program will be launched to help place veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts in jobs in the private sector. It’s especially important now that so many of them are leaving the military just when there are no jobs for civilians, and when so many of them can not even opt to continue their government employment. Truly, these men and women do not need the stress of being pitched headlong into a hopeless economy after the stress of dealing with a deployment (or three). They deserve better from us.


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