New series studies Iraq war’s impact

by Kathryn Nelson

The sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers have permeated both the international and national community since the commencement of the Iraq war in 2003.

The University’s “Home and Away” series aims to highlight the effects of the Iraq conflict through a number of events presented by the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

“The Impact at Home: War and the National Guard” is the first of a multipart series. Wednesday’s event will focus on the National Guard and Army Reserve’s role in the Iraq war.

Through the series, the Humphrey Institute seeks to connect the events abroad with their implications at home, said Julie Lund, director of communications.

where to go

“The impact at home: war and the national guard”
What: “Home and Away” Series
When: Wed. 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: Humphrey Institute

Humphrey senior fellow Tim Penny said he became involved with the issue after publishing an essay about the possible long-term effects of prolonged deployment on reserve forces.

Though he was never officially sent to combat, Penny once served as a navy reservist and said he can relate to the disruptive lifestyle of part-time military duty.

The duration of the war in Iraq puts stress on the National Guard and reserve members, Penny said, and therefore appropriate changes to soldiers’ benefits need to be made.

“We’re in a new era of longer duty,” he said. “For that reason we need to take another look on how we compensate and how we provide benefits to the guard and reserve forces.”

Penny said he hopes Wednesday’s discussion provides perspectives from panelists and participants about the situation, creating recommendations for policies for guard and reserve members.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. and President of the University Alumni Association Dennis Schulstad said the United States is relying on the National Guard and reserves more than ever before.

Schulstad said there is a huge difference between active duty soldiers and reserve members.

“When you’re in the National Guard or reserves, you have another job at home.”

The expected deployment time is usually six to 12 months, he said. But because of the ongoing war in Iraq, many tours were extended for longer periods and multiple times.

Schulstad said this stress might inhibit part-time members from re-enlisting in the military, which might drop the soldier retention rate.

He said he reminds people that military members never decide when to go to war and supporting them is important.

“Whether you support our national foreign relation and policies or not, it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “They are merely carrying out their duties.”