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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Writer Wonders Why Her Neighbor Is Going to War

Dear Source,
Dec 20, 2004 – Thank you, Source for Older Part-time V.I. Soldiers Being Deployed. The subject of the V.I. National Guard deployment has weighed on me very heavily for a very long time. Although I've quietly approached the daily newspapers asking them to address the issue, nobody in that arena has done so.
Do your readers know that over 40 percent of the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are National Guard or reservists? Many of these men and women who have already served up to a year in these combat zones, along with enlisted Marines and other professionally ranked members of the military, are now being recalled.
Sometimes after only six months back home, getting to know their families and readjusting to civilian life, they are being called back yet again to go back into a fray which they now know about and understand as being far more dangerous than that in which they initially participated. And they are afraid.
Jeffrey Sewer is my good neighbor. When the first contingent of National Guard was shipped out to Afghanistan, Jeffrey and I chatted over the fence about whether ore not he would have to go. Knowing that he would probably be called up to serve, Jeffrey – having retired at 50 years old – embarked on a massive project to ensure that his house would be hurricane-proof. He had built some apartments on his property but, not knowing when he might be required to leave, this man was hammering and nailing and laboring 24/7.
When floods hit this summer in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, he thought he would be called upon to go there but nothing happened.
I had a gut feeling that nothing would happen until after the General Election. Jeffrey Sewer kept working and working. The last time I chatted with him over the fence he said that he'd received his orders but didn't know whether he was going to Iraq or Afghanistan, but that within a month he would be deployed to Texas and then would be told to where he was going.
Virgin Islands residents don't have a presidential vote. Those who joined the National Guard here years ago, did so to further their education and did so with the assumption that they would be called upon to render help and assistance both on and off island in response to the aftermath of natural disasters – earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Those in the stateside National Guard had that same mind set.
I don't think that serving in combat zones with heavy weaponry involved was ever mentioned to them. I guess it was just in the small print.
Anna Clarke
Editors note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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