"They were crying, cussing, yelling..."
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 4 06:24:43 MDT 2003
NY Times, July 4, 2003
Anger Rises for Families of Troops in Iraq
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
FORT HOOD, Tex., July 3 Luisa Leija was in bed the other morning, she
recalled, when her 9-year-old daughter bounded in the room, saying, "Mommy,
mommy, there's a man in uniform at the door."
Ms. Leija, the wife of a young artillery captain in Iraq, threw on a robe
and took a deep breath. She dashed to the door, thinking: "This is not
happening to me. This can't be happening to me."
A soldier in full camouflage was on the doorstep. It was a neighbor locked
out of his house.
Ms. Leija is still upset. The panic has passed, but not the weariness. Or
the anger. Anger that her husband, Capt. Frank Leija, has not come home
yet, even though President Bush declared two months ago that "major combat
operations in Iraq have ended." Anger that the end of that stage has not
meant the beginning of peace, that the Army has assigned new duties for her
husband and his men that have nothing to do with toppling Saddam Hussein.
And anger that the talk in Washington is not of taking troops out of Iraq,
but of sending more in.
"I want my husband home," Ms. Leija, a mother of three children, said. "I
am so on edge. When they first left, I thought yeah, this will be bad, but
war is what they trained for. But they are not fighting a war. They are not
doing what they trained for. They have become police in a place they're not
Military families, so often the ones to put a cheery face on war, are
growing vocal. Since major combat for the 150,000 troops in Iraq was
declared over on May 1, more than 60 Americans, including 25 killed in
hostile encounters, have died in Iraq, about half the number of deaths in
the two months of the initial campaign.
Frustrations became so bad recently at Fort Stewart, Ga., that a colonel,
meeting with 800 seething spouses, most of them wives, had to be escorted
from the session.
"They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come
back," said Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart.
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