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November 3rd, 2009
07:28 AM ET

Military families ready to serve, anxious for Afghanistan

By Jim and Karen Irwin

We are ready for answers, because we’re ready to serve. We are Blue Star parents and as our son fights on the front line in Afghanistan, we are afraid that further delays in Washington’s decision-making will let lives and victory slip away. The recommendations of our commanders have been sitting on the President’s desk since August 30th and families like ours are growing impatient. Since General McChrystal’s report was delivered, the President has flown to Copenhagen to pitch the Olympics and accepted the Nobel Prize while we have sat and waited for a decision. As a family we have invested in Afghanistan and decisions are urgently needed.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were like most any other American family. We both worked hard to provide for our two boys and give them a chance to succeed. Like millions of other American families, September 11, 2001 added a new sense of purpose and new dimension to our lives. Not long after the attacks, unbeknownst to us, our son Mike began talking to Army Recruiters at the same time he was looking into college. He earned a scholarship to college but throughout his first two years of school the need to serve his nation kept coming back to him.

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Filed under: Commentary
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. jim vicalvi

    If we had people who waffle on everything in our govt. in the 30' and 40's we would all be talking German or Russian right now. The libs aren't the only ones tho. Rumsfeld should be arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder for his irresponsibile actions during the Iraq conflict.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  2. Will Evo

    Why do people keep talking about a "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan, as if there can be one? What is there to "win"? I have been to Iraq, we didn't win anything. Sending more troops to Afghanistan, is not going to do anything but increase the number of our troops sent back home in boxes. Democracy only works if the people want it...and the Iraqis and Afghans couldn't care less.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  3. Larry Neipp

    Freedom is not free. It never has been. It was Afghanistan's instability that lead in part to the rise of Bin Laden, and the loss of 3000 American civilians. If we leave now it will be unstable and the possibility of another terrorist regime is a lot higher .

    Why do people think that this would be easy and short. I remember car bombs and kidnappings occurring in Germany in the late 80's and we are still there. We are still in Japan. These are both stable countries now, and at one point they were just as fanatical.

    We should be proud to have done in the matter of weeks what the Russians could not do in a decade, and think of all the lives that would have perished in the matter of decades had we not intervened. Now we just need to bring the country into the civilized world so they can fight their civil wars like we do in the US with dollars instead of bullets. The last stat I had seen 95% of elections are won by the person who has raised the most cash.

    I am proud of our servicemen and women who have done an outstanding job so far in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and volunteered to do so. I am proud of their families who did not ask to go through this. It wasn't always easy and it wasn't always fair. But, war never is. We still have a long way to go in both places, but I look forward to a day in the future where the education level and economic conditions improve to the point like they did in Germany and Japan.

    November 3, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  4. DianaLynn

    Very well written article by Mr. and Mrs. Irwin. They are well educated on the topic, and stand by their sons. Being in the military, all too often I see Soldiers with no support channel whatsoever back home, yet they continue to deploy and fight only to come back to an empty barracks room. Why? Becuase they know, just as every American should, that if they give up on the Taliban feeding grounds (such as Afghanistan), the Taliban will re-gain their stronghold on the country, bringing us back to square one. Pulling out of Afghanistan would be ignorant. The progress we have made there has been slow, but it is progress. Just think of the progress that would be made if we had the manpower, equimpent, and funding that we needed.

    The Honorable President Obama has indeed put this on the back burner, just as they stated. Too trying to gain the acceptance of America through rose colored glasses has been his top priority, while all along, the men and women continue to fight. Many times without the equipment and resources needed to do so, but they drive on with what they have. Just take a minute to imagine what our country could be doing, if they had the support they needed...

    I am dual military, my husband and I both serve. He is currently in Afghanistan, and I too, dread late phone calls from numbers I don't know, and knocks at the door on the weekends. He is well trained, and serves with a great unit that I know does the best with the resources they have. But pulling everyone out abruptly would not solve things. It would make them worse. Because even then, they wouldn't pack everything/everyone up at once and bring them home. They would do it like they are doing in Iraq, leaving dwindling numbers of SM's, weapons, and equipment. A surge may be what we need, and while it will be trying for families, friends and supporters, in the outcome it will bring us the victory we have been longing for in the country.

    In closing, I think the Irwins have many great points, and if America, and our President want to win this war, they are going to have to put it as the number one priority.

    November 3, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  5. Bryan

    Bush was there for 7 years and no one cared what the strategy was, partly because the media didn't cover Afghanistan once Iraq started, and partly because the Bush admin. did a good job of distracting from it. Obama has had this war thrown in his lap and he's trying to get it right. Give him the time to do so, which may take a few weeks to work on strategy, after 7 years of not having one.

    November 3, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  6. Fred Holmes

    Reading these posts makes me want to go right out and sign up.

    Anybody know a good recruiter?

    November 3, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  7. Fred Holmes

    Ok moderator. I get it.

    November 3, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  8. roy l.harris

    to the families that are ready to serve ,it was never a good thing.
    we jumped on a country .because we wanted a we have killed people that had nothing to do with is time that we come home .and try to help those people as much as we can.i thank you.i am a retired gi of 22yr.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  9. Sabrina Royal Oak,MI

    Military are trained to act not question, it is how they survive. It is honorable that we have many willing to serve and the sacrifice is tremdous to families that many others are not aware of. We are grateful.
    It is time though to bring them home, our being there now and in the future is a detriment to them and the future of the nation they are trying to protect. Bush and Cheney blew it and we need to act responsibly now and bring them home now to stay is foolish, the window and door has closed. To have insight is everything, and wishing will not change a thing. Its time to pull out . Buying lottery tickets to solve debt crisis or job loss is not the answer and our military has NOT failed our prior leadership has. Sadly this is one of the the many things they left many others to have to deal with. Staying only promotes Bush and Cheney's failed attempts to call themselves leaders and it only continues them off the hook at the cost of our men and womens futures,their family and our nation.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  10. Earl

    The key phrase is military family. Deployments and war are part of the military package. Service members serving today have a choice that military personnel from WW I to Vietnam did not have under the draft. We can opt out. If the burden of serving is to great on the individual or familiy pack it in and move on. But don't suck up the benefits during times of peace and then cry in times of war. When the wars first started military members could say they just signed up for the college fund but those days are over Reality is Now. While tragic, death, PTSD and injury are the nature of beingin the military. Read your oath and watch the movie Patton.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:48 am |
  11. matte

    Nothing more annoying than an Officer's wife complaining about how stressful the life of her family is and how fearful her husband may not make it back. He's a navy pilot chilling on a ship and flying over a country that doesn't even have capabilities to shoot his plane down. He's far from harm's way in that spot. Those who are in a real spot for harm deserve a government that will make swift decisions on the afghanistan situation, be it giving the troop strength to accomplish or getting them the heck out. The officer's wife should accept the life she chose (and all the money her husband makes more than troops in harms REAL path) like all other families who serve and chill out. She obviously only sees "what do I get for my time" rather than the strategic importance and need for us to see this through.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:47 am |
  12. A. Loo

    The window of success in Afghanistan has closed. The time to push was before IEDs came to that battlefront. The previous administration pulled back and concentrated "elsewhere". Once the success of IEDs were proven in Iraq, they were imported to the Afghani struggle. It is too late now. It is time to pull out.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:44 am |