Saturday, June 04, 2005

Iraq Report

I just received an email from my niece, Cathy, that I think is worth sharing. She and Michelle were U.S. Army brats during the Vietnam muddle.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hey ya'll,

just a note to share how well the War that isn't technically is going.

Michelle's boyfriend, Ben, was kept 60 days past his leave date with the Army 2 years ago. That would have been from June, kept till August.

He was in the "Ready Reserves" which is everybody that doesn't volunteer for the National Reserves officially, the once a month guys. Because he refused to sign for the National Reserves, he was told he could not have the GI Education Benefits, which I had never heard being negotiable before.

The "Ready Reserves" used to be 4 years from your official separation, or leave date, now it has been increased to 7 years.

Now, 3 weeks ago, about 2 years from his original separation date, Ben was sent a letter informing him he must show up at Fort Benning, Georgia by June 6th, and within 3 weeks be shipped to Iraq.

Ben was trained as an Army Ranger, E-5 rank at time of leaving the army. He had been stationed at Fort Bragg, not Benning, even though he trained some there. Ben supervised 5 - 1 0 soldiers, as a sargeant. He is only 25 1/2 now. The Army claims he has Leadership background they are short on.

My guess is we have had a lot of sargeants blown up in the jeeps and humvees over there. Low -level supervisors are in short supply.

Ben spent time in Colombia, Afghanistan , 2ce by the time he was 23 1/2. Strangely, after nearly 2 years, our government sent him papers to sign promising not to discuss anything regarding his previous assignments in Afghanistan and Colombia. Then the mandatory re-up letters arrive.

On a personal level, Ben survived a life- threatening car accident last November that shattered his leg, left him in the road of a major intersection wondering if he would live. He survived, had his lower leg reconstructed, with the miracle of 14 - 18 inches of titanium and screws from the knee to the ankle. He just had another follow-up with his orthopedic surgeon last Monday.

The surgeon, an ex- Marine Medic, said that if the Army was smart, that they would send Ben home. Should he be re-injured, and survive, the Army would be paying him disability of $2,000 - $4,000 a month. Of course, that is if he survived the injuries. You can see it is cheaper for the soldiers to die in action.

Jumping out of planes and helicopters with metal in your body is not recommended.

However, my instinct is that they will make him serve again, too many gung-ho types have been shown on tv being sent back to Iraq with their prosthetics for legs and feet. Do you really think they run as fast as a normal person? what if it falls off?

The best Lee and I hope for is that Ben is at least kept stateside in a support position. An old retired officer friend of Ben's thinks they may force him to be a drill sergeant.

Did I mention that Ben is still gun-shy of driving cars since this happened? He was only cleared to work his construction job 60 days ago, with the stipulation that he stay on the ground.

Anyone want to take bets on Ben being sent straight to Iraq ? So how desperate are we for volunteer soldiers?



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