A week of this could scar the average person for life – yet for over 65 weeks day in and day out, our Soldiers are expected to do this, mistake free, return home for a year or less*, and then do it again:
It is ungodly hot (over 130 today in the shade); Soldiers wear full battle gear to include heavy plates all over their body; walk the streets filled with stench looking for an enemy- an adversary that often get the first round (or Improvised Explosive Device – IED) off before being seen; our Soldiers respond with the unnatural act of killing; then go back to a crowded area to get just a few hours of sleep- never alone; always thinking about that unpredictable indirect round or rocket that may or may not land too close this time; or thinking about a buddy he/she saw die; going several days without a shower; and even longer before checking email from home (phone calls are even more rare).
The Soldiers know of the support America has for them – but they also know how much America have begun to hate the war and have started to give up. The Soldiers still have pride in what they do because of the common Iraqi people. The only natural thing our Soldiers do here is the act of helping another person… should that not be enough?
We will never free Iraq of all evil (we can not even do that at home), but we should only depart when the situation is stable and leave as friends.
* Units are now required to wait one year before deploying again, but when a unit returns, many of the Soldiers are required to move to another unit after 90 days – this other unit could be leaving in less than six months for Iraq or Afghanistan. During this time, training may (and often does) take the Soldier away from the family for weeks at a time.