Thursday, December 08, 2005

They Must Really Be Desperate For Soldiers

Medford single mother called back to active duty in Iraq


December 8, 2005

While most of her friends and neighbors are amusing themselves with Christmas decorations and holiday gifts, Patricia Arndt is fretting over far more serious matters.

The single mother from Medford has been unexpectedly pulled from the inactive Army reserve and ordered to report for active duty by Feb. 5.

As Christmas nears, Arndt, 43, is trying to sell the Medford home she says she will not be able to keep on an Army salary of approximately $60,000 a year, and is searching for someone to care for her 13-year-old son, Shane. She expects to train for an 18-month tour of duty that could take her to Iraq or Afghanistan.

She said she never saw her return to active duty as a possibility. "Never in a million years," she said.

"This is a very hard thing for me," she said. "I absolutely love my country. I feel I owe it to the Army and my fellow soldiers, because I wouldn't be here without them.

"If I were a reservist assigned to a unit, I'd have been trained and informed of the possibility that I would be called. I'm not prepared for this."

U.S. Army officials said Arndt is not being treated unfairly.

"Single parents are treated no differently than any other soldier, and are expected to have a family care plan at all times," said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Pamela Hart.
How....special, Col., um, Hart, a dubiously name for an officer if I've ever heard one.

Ms. Arndt is a respiratory therapist at a major medical facility on Long Island.

Here's the kicker: Arndt served a four year tour of duty.

Twenty years ago.

Now, formerly, Army policy was not to call up this type of reservist to fill in for combat duty. Her status these past twenty years has been as an Individual Ready Reserve, which meant she could be called up domestically to sub in for a full-time Army troop dispatched to a front line somewhere.

But...well, let Newsday say more:
The war in Iraq, now 21/2 years old, has changed that. Currently, more than 6,500 ready reservists have been called back to active duty, including Chief Warrant Officer Margaret Murray, 56, of Schenectady. While receiving training at Fort Jackson last year, Murray told Newsday that she hoped she would not be sent into combat. If she is sent, she said, "I'll do the best I can."
Now comes the really sad part of this story:
Arndt, who is also appealing her orders, is far from alone. Almost 8 percent of all current Army personnel -- and 13.8 percent of female soldiers -- are single parents, the officials said.

How does Bush sleep at night?