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Monday, October 3, 2022
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Questions for Servicemen and Reservists

Dear Source:
It is indeed commendable that Governor Turnbull has signed a "Statement of Support" from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. (See "Deployed Guard Members, Reservists Get Show of Support").
It is also commendable that the V.I. Government has passed legislation to ensure that any V.I. government employee who is called into active service will receive a "pay differential" from the government for the duration of their service.
Is this just lip service or do these benefits equally apply to enlisted servicemen/reservists employed in the private sector? And do these benefits apply to retired government or private sector employees?
It's common knowledge that the "war" in Iraq is a total debacle and was from the get-go but rather than expound on that, I'd rather prefer to ask some questions applicable to the people of the Virgin Islands who signed up for the National Guard.
I hope I'm not being presumptive, but I think you signed up in all good faith because you wanted to better yourself, learn a trade and get more of a worldly experience which would improve your odds in the marketplace.
Many of you in the National Guard have not only helped here at home during hurricanes but you've been right there going to the mainland and down island to repay your debt to the federal government. You did so willingly and in all good faith because you were repaying your "debt to society."
And now you're all being shipped out to war zones. Afghanistan, Iraq, back and forth. The fighting gets worse, the melee escalates and the VI National Guard continuously ships out its meager reservist forces on orders from above. Was that in your plan?
Young mothers separated from their young children, young husbands equally separated, 50 year old retirees separated from their homes and families. Was that something you anticipated?
I think not and I also know from first-hand experience that you're scared to come forward, less because you distrust the media but more that it's drummed into you that, "NG business stays within NG," etc., along with the continual mantra that, "Your Country Needs You."
In the meantime, after spending almost two years away from home in a war zone, it's very hard to come back home. Nobody seems really interested. The family is more interested in telling you what happened while you were away. They just want things to be back to normal and don't understand when you go into a funk. All those psych-related speeches you received during that PR layover went in one ear and out the other, right?
More so when you're told right after you get home that your next deployment is going to be Iraq but you have no idea when that's going to happen. How do you even begin to get your life back together with a next deployment scheduled to land you in a war zone where violence continues to escalate?
Anna Clarke
St. Thomas
Editor's 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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