- 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
- 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