Mainstream television news yesterday made a big show of the withdrawal of America's "last combat troops" from Iraq, but the painful saga continues for our service members. Many returning home to their tearful and joyous families in the coming days will ultimately be sent to serve more tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In fact, members of two different units heading to Iraq and Afghanistan are calling on their commanders right now to halt their deployments because they are not physically or mentally ready to deploy.
Will you stand with them?
President Obama makes it sound like the troops remaining in Iraq will be serving largely administrative and 'advisory' functions. But in reality, 50,000 "combat capable" troops will remain in Iraq to:
- Train the Iraqi military, including accompanying them on dangerous patrols;
- Support special forces operations in their continued hunt for terrorists; and
- Provide air support to the Iraqi military (a.k.a overhead artillery and bombing).
In an Iraq which grows increasingly violent each month, does this sound like desk duty?
The 3rd ACR at Fort Hood1
This Sunday, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR) at Fort Hood will be shipped out to Iraq. The military wives and family members of 3rd ACR soldiers say that hundreds of the 5,000 about to go to Iraq are suffering from PTSD and other ailments, and are not fit to deploy. This week they demanded that those wounded warriors stay home.
IVAW's Fort Hood chapter and Fort Hood's military families are asking the civilian community to join their calls for the military to stop deploying traumatized troops.
Call 3rd ACR Commanders and tell them not to deploy soldiers who have PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.
3rd ACR Commanders:
Regimental Commander - Col. Allen (254) 553-3526
Command Sgt. Major Jonathan J. Hunt (254) 287-0598
Call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and ask for whatever commander you're ringing by name. If they won't speak to you, leave them a message or call back. If you get anyone else's ear, tell them to stop deploying soldiers who are medically unfit. After you've made your call, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you've called.
The 656th Transportation Company2
The 656th is an Army Reserve unit based in Indiana, made up of reservists from several midwestern states. Due to deploy this weekend for Afghanistan, members within the unit have cited lack of training and mental health problems among the reasons they are not fit to go. IVAW member, Alejandro Villatoro, a Sergeant in the Company, has raised concerns that they have not been trained on the weapons they will be using, and do not know how to operate the vehicles they will have to drive, once in Afghanistan. There are also serious mental health issues among some of the troops set to deploy.
After Alejandro first exposed this crisis, others in the unit also came forward. They are now pushing for a Congressional inquiry into their unit's readiness. We will keep you posted next week with steps you can take to support their efforts. For a full explanation of the situation facing the 656th, click here.
-thanks to IVAW