October 29, 2003

Military families grow angry with state of Iraq war

Several more US GIs have died in Iraq. For what? The
_resident, in his pretend press conference, actually
said, "the world is a more peaceful place under my
leadership." YES, the world is under his "leadership,"
and it is "a more peaceful place." What a disgrace...

Chicago Tribune: Cherie Block, 29, could barely contain herself while watching President Bush's news conference Tuesday from her home in Sac City, Iowa, especially when he insisted the vast majority of Iraqis are with Americans, not against them. "Look at everything that's going on there this week," Block said, "And (Bush) still has this perfect picture in his head that they want us there. To me, they're already against us."

http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/7126891.htm

Posted on Tue, Oct. 28, 2003

Military families grow angry with state of Iraq war
BY JUDITH GRAHAM
Chicago Tribune

DENVER - (KRT) - They are angry and disillusioned,
frustrated and full of doubt. This war is not going
the way they hoped it would.

They are wives and husbands of the 129th Army Reserves
Combat Transportation Company, stationed in Kansas,
and they are terrified for spouses who are conducting
missions in Iraq.

A month ago, these family members launched a "bring
our soldiers home" petition drive when, with no
advance notice, the 129th Company's tour of duty was
extended.

Today, after a string of recent suicide bombings in
Iraq, they stand with a growing number of military
families who are convinced that the war is going awry
and who think the American public isn't getting a
straight story on the conflict.

Cherie Block, 29, could barely contain herself while
watching President Bush's news conference Tuesday from
her home in Sac City, Iowa, especially when he
insisted the vast majority of Iraqis are with
Americans, not against them. "Look at everything
that's going on there this week," Block said, "And
(Bush) still has this perfect picture in his head that
they want us there. To me, they're already against
us."

"Either he doesn't really understand what's going on,
or he's not telling it the way it really is," said
Block, whose husband Wallace is a sergeant with the
129th Company.

Around the country other military families are
increasingly voicing concerns over the war, some
through organizations such as Military Families Speak
Out, a Massachusetts group that claims support from
about 1,000 families nationwide. Some marched in
protests against the war in Washington, D.C., last
weekend.

While many of these families are adamantly anti-war,
others embrace the administration's rationale for
going to war in Iraq, while criticizing its conduct in
the post-war period.

Among them is Trisha Leonard, 27, of De Soto, Kan.,
who declined to name her husband, a captain in the
129th Company Army Reserves. "I think taking out
Saddam's regime was a good move. But there is no
post-war plan or exit strategy. It's a mess."

To be sure, the vast majority of military families
support the war, at least in public. They don't want
their wives and husbands, sons or daughters to return
home to a country that has adopted a negative view of
the conflict, like that faced by soldiers who came
home from Vietnam.

Overwhelmingly, families are against a massive pullout
of troops that would leave Iraq destabilized and
vulnerable. The U.S. has to finish what it has begun,
or risk an even greater surge of terrorism, they
believe.

But reservists like those in the 129th Company, which
operates huge trucks that haul tanks and other heavy
equipment into Iraq, are in an especially tough
position. Planning for their service in the Iraq war
has been particularly chaotic, families charge,
insisting that the military has given them inadequate
information and assistance.

Initially, most of the 129th Company reservists
believed their tour of duty would be three to six
months. Then they were told it would be a year from
the time they arrived in Iraq, not including the three
months they spent prior to be deployed.

Finally, last month, they were told the 270-member
129th Company might not come home before 2005. That's
when Rachel Trueblood, 42, of Lees Summit, Mo., a
mother of three whose husband Rony is a staff sergeant
with the company, went from "sucking it up," as she
puts it, to getting mad.

Her bottom line: no National Guard or reservist should
be deployed for more than 12 months at a time. After
e-mailing other families in the company, Trueblood
mounted a petition drive last month that has already
gathered almost 13,000 signatures.

"Once-proud Army Reserve families are being
disillusioned by the decision to keep reservists
beyond their original orders," the petition reads. "We
ask for your help in getting our loved ones home by
the end of their 12-month tour of active duty."

As for the war, though her husband supports it,
Trueblood has serious doubts. "We've committed
ourselves to something that's bigger than any of us
ever bargained for," she said. "My feeling is, we
can't leave, but this might be a cause we'll never
win. We're trying to lead something that should have
been led from the inside (of Iraq)."

Every time Bush gets up and says the U.S. won't back
down until it wins the war against terrorism, as he
did Tuesday, Trueblood wonders "How? We're already
stretched to the absolute limit. Where are you going
to lead us next, into Iran or Syria?"

For Jodie Holm, 38, faith is the answer to the nagging
questions she tries to keep at bay as violence in Iraq
escalates. Every day, she prays her husband Jeff, a
sergeant with the 129th Company, will return home
safely, and tries not to imagine how she would survive
if he didn't. Her pride in his service is mingled with
anxiety about his welfare and a feeling of constantly
being on edge.

"If it wasn't for God, I'd be a basket case right now.
I'm so scared," said Holm from her home in Council
Bluffs, Iowa, breaking into tears over the phone.
"More and more, it seems the Iraqi people don't want
us there. My husband says don't worry, but I can't
help myself. It's the not knowing what is going to
happen next that's killing me."

---

2003, Chicago Tribune.

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Posted by richard at October 29, 2003 07:20 AM