(Host) Army officials have announced that tours of duty for National Guard members and reservists in Iraq and Kuwait will be extended. A number of Vermonters are expected to be affected by the new orders.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports.
(Zind) Eighty-five members of the Rutland-based C Company of the Army’s 368th Engineering Batallion shipped out last spring. They’ve been helping with road building and other construction projects near the Kuwait-Iraq border.
The reservists were expecting to spend a year in active duty, including about six weeks in training before they shipped out, and time spent in debriefings on their return. The new Army orders will prolong the overseas tours for reservists and guard members and could extend their active duty by up to six months.
Sandy Pinsonault’s husband, Danny, is a member of Company C. Since news broke, Pinsonault says she’s been fielding calls from families of reservists who were planning to return from the Middle East this fall.
(Pinsonault) “They were all hoping to be home sometime in October. Now it’s the middle of September and we haven’t heard anything about when they’re coming. And then when the news hits the stands today and says ‘They’re not coming – they’re staying.’ I think it was just panic – don’t tell me this.”
(Zind) Pinsonault says the Army hasn’t officially notified families yet about the change in orders.
Shirley Moyer’s son, Gary, celebrated his forty- seventh birthday as a member of C Company in Kuwait. Says she’s taking the news that he may be there longer in stride.
(Moyer) “Well, let me ask you this. How else can I?”
(Zind) Moyer says she gets calls, letters and e-mails from her son, and she gets together with families of other reservists. The communication and the companionship make the wait a little easier.
(Moyer) “Is it easy? Some days it’s not too bad. Other days you’d just like to hear his voice and see him walk through the door.”
(Zind) If, as expected, the families get word that reservists will remain in Kuwait, Shirley Moyer and others will have to wait a while longer.
Sandy Pinsonault says the anxiety of having loved ones serving in a dangerous part of the world is now mixed with uncertainty about when they will return.
(Pinsonault) “I think what most wives and myself included are looking for is, just give us a date.”
(Zind) In addition to the C Company reservists, eight members of the Vermont National Guard are serving in the Gulf region. It’s expected their tours will also be extended.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.