One of my best friends just got orders to go back to Iraq. He already served a tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is 60 percent disabled. He got off Active Duty Regular Army almost two years ago so he could live a normal life again.
While making ends meet and waiting for his job offer to start working for the Department of State with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Services, he lived away from his wife and daughter out of necessity. He is currently in training with the State Department and nearly finished.
His family is not allowed at training, which takes place in a couple of different states. So far, he's been separated from them since July 2007. He also went into the Inactive Reserve status or, as it's called now, the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) after leaving active duty. Last week he received a notice to report in September to go to Iraq with an Army Reserve unit, prior to graduating with his classmates or being stationed with the State Department in Miami.
When he told his wife over the phone that he had gotten orders to Iraq, she collapsed in tears. His daughter has a calendar marking down the days so when her daddy gets home he can take her to Disney World like he promised. Now, he can't. He'll be gone another year, at least.
He's not afraid to serve. He's willing to serve. He told me, "Just allow me to at least be a father and a husband again...at least for a little bit." He begs some time to spend with his family. I wish he didn't have to go at all.
If I hadn't gone through it myself, I wouldn't be writing this. Having experienced the pain, I can't help but write about it. Not many people know what it's like, but I now have first-hand knowledge.
My friend was told there are three more IRR-scheduled mobilizations over the next few months. This affects many, many lives and yet we rarely take the time to think about it.