National Guard 'Finished'
Stars & Stripes
Letters to the Editor

I'm a soldier in the Missouri National Guard. I'm stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. Had I known five years ago that the National Guard would be part of the occupying force here in Iraq and the rest of the world, I would have told them to stick the contract in their ear.
It's not the conditions that bother me. But since I arrived here in Baghdad via Kuwait, the National Guard has been shafted in the role it plays with the Army. Second is all that we'll ever be with these people.
Before coming here, if I needed extra money I could work a few more hours. Now I receive only about three-fourths of the money needed for rent. There's no way to make extra. It makes it difficult for my wife to survive. Regular Army families can live on base, shop at the post exchange, utilize armed forces banks, contact the Army in case of hardship, and enjoy many other benefits that make their lives easier. My wife is a good hour from any Army base. It would be pointless to drive that far to reap meager benefits just to survive.
Rest and recuperation leave is a joke. Our unit is only allowed to grant leave to maybe two people per day. The first Armored Division has gotten most of their people out already. The National Guard is picking up its absent slots. It has come to our attention that only E-4s and below will get leave. Even then, not all the E-4s will get out before it's time to go home at the rate we're going.
No ETS [Expiration of Term of Service]. Not enough benefits or money to survive. Playing catch up when we return to our jobs. Messed up leave dates. Playing Army in the secondhand spot. Why would anyone ever join? I believe that when the Army finally lets us go home, it will be the proverbial death of the National Guard. The National Guard is finished. I for one will not be reupping.
Spc. John Brents
Baghdad, Iraq



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