Letter from US soldier in Iraq: Hard to find hope

June 19

Hard to find hope

I’m an American fighting soldier in Iraq. I’ve been deployed since mid-January. I’m a husband and a father. I haven’t seen my son since weeks before I left. I was denied leave for Christmas. A few months before, because of the rapid deployment status and high intensity training level with the National Training Center rotation, I was denied Thanksgiving with my family and any time thereafter. I’ve served four years honorably as a first-term soldier, all in the 3rd Infantry Division. It’s because of stop loss that I can’t separate from the Army.

We have all fought honorably in the war, but we’re being kept here for reasons not yet made clear to us. No one really knows when we’re supposed to go home. There are units here with us that didn’t fight in the war and got here two months ago that are leaving before us. We’re weary of the place, and morale plummets further daily. We were told that as long as we fought the war, we’d go home as soon as it was done. Yet we’re still here. We survived a war only to be shot at, and some of us killed, when there’s no army to fight. We feel forgotten about. The Marines and sailors who fought by our side are long gone.

I’m afraid my son doesn’t know who his daddy is and that he may never find out. Our marriages and our lives are falling apart and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Our mission here in Iraq is so minimal that they are constantly trying to find new missions for us. Our unit has given us two redeployment dates that have already come and passed. They’ve shut down and reopened mail twice, and we’ve already received a redeployment brief, only to find out it might be months before we could “possibly” go home. I look at my soldiers constantly, and it’s hard to look at the expressions of depression, anxiety, and even bordem on their faces. It’s hard to find hope here.

I realize there are others who have it worse, and their stories need to be told too. All of us have loved ones and families, and some have wives and children who are struggling without us. My wife struggles to tell my son, who just turned 1, who his daddy is and why he’s not there. Thanks for all the support.

Sgt. J. Fisher