Letter from US soldier in Iraq: Hard to find hope
Hard to find hope
Im an American fighting soldier in Iraq. Ive been deployed since mid-January. Im a husband and a father. I havent 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. Ive served four years honorably as a first-term soldier, all in the 3rd Infantry Division. Its because of stop loss that I cant separate from the Army.
We have all fought honorably in the war, but were being kept here for reasons not yet made clear to us. No one really knows when were supposed to go home. There are units here with us that didnt fight in the war and got here two months ago that are leaving before us. Were weary of the place, and morale plummets further daily. We were told that as long as we fought the war, wed go home as soon as it was done. Yet were still here. We survived a war only to be shot at, and some of us killed, when theres no army to fight. We feel forgotten about. The Marines and sailors who fought by our side are long gone.
Im afraid my son doesnt know who his daddy is and that he may never find out. Our marriages and our lives are falling apart and theres 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. Theyve shut down and reopened mail twice, and weve 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 its hard to look at the expressions of depression, anxiety, and even bordem on their faces. Its 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 hes not there. Thanks for all the support.
Sgt. J. Fisher