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Author Topic: Overseas/U.N. postings (and repercussions)
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posted 15 September 2021 12:40     Profile for bossi   Email bossi     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
(even though this New York Times article is about the National Guard, the topic is front and centre amongst issues affecting the Canadian Army today. I hope y'all find it interesting.)
Dileas Gu Brath
M.A. Bossi, Esquire

Fallout in Texas From Bosnia Duty

Changing of the Guard
This is one of several articles about the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard describing the troops' deployment in Bosnia, where the unit took over the American Sector of a NATO peacekeeping force.

USTIN, Tex. � Dalinda Halkowitz's husband filed for divorce the day in February that he and nearly 700 other soldiers from the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard assembled to go to Bosnia.

Staff Sgt. Ron De La Rosa spent the day before he left visiting his ailing mother, Dora, in a nursing home, taking her her favorite meal, tongue tacos, and worrying how she would be while he was gone. It would be the last time he ever saw her.

While Maj. Deanne E. Lins has spent the last seven months in Bosnia, her husband, J. Anthony Lins, has had to adapt � not always easily � to his new role as both father and mother to their daughter and son.

"Dad had to go bra shopping � twice," he said recently in the dining room of the Linses' home here.

As the Pentagon has increasingly tapped the National Guard and Reserves for active duty, it has profoundly affected the armed services, their budgets and military operations around the world. It has also had consequences, in ways large and small, on the home front.

Here in Texas, the 49th's deployment to Bosnia � the largest single mobilization of Guard troops since the Persian Gulf war of 1991 � has forced scores of wives, and a few husbands, to manage on their own, often for the first time. They have had to cope with emotional strains, deaths of loved ones and unexpected crises, including broken appliances and emergency surgeries.

The deployment has disrupted family routines, family finances and, in the worst cases, the families themselves.

Mrs. Halkowitz does not know exactly why her marriage collapsed � if it was the pressure that came with deploying overseas or something else. The divorce papers cited irreconcilable differences, and her husband, Sgt. Gary Halkowitz, has not spoken to her since he left. She has no doubt, however, that the 49th's Bosnian duty � and the months of training that led up to it � have caused strains at home that only the strongest marriages could survive.

"I see our military pulling from the reserves for these missions, and they're not used to it," Mrs. Halkowitz said in the living room of her home in Snyder, a small West Texas town northwest of Abilene. "And these families are getting thrown into situations where they don't know how to react."

Many of the strains facing the families of the 49th are the same, of course, as those faced by families of active-duty troops sent overseas, but for the National Guard and Reserves there is a crucial difference. The majority of reservists joined to serve part time, usually no more than a weekend a month and two weeks each summer, not for nearly eight months.

As they are called to duty more often, thousands of reservists are having to put on hold their families, their educations and, perhaps the biggest difference with active troops, their careers.

With the nation's armed services having shrunk by a third since the cold war, the 870,000 men and women in the National Guard and Reserves have become essential to military operations. Pentagon officials say the strategy is irreversible, but they acknowledge that it has worrisome consequences that they have only begun to try to assess.

Last month, the Pentagon sent more than 100,000 reservists and their spouses questionnaires in its first effort to measure what Charles L. Cragin, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, called the "unique quality-of-life concerns" facing the Guard and Reserves.

A study of employers, released on Sept. 1, found that while most supported the military service of their employees, the majority complained that call-ups were too long and disrupted the workplace.

Civilian employers have had to make do while their employees are away, juggling work schedules, forcing others to pick up the slack or hiring temporary help, paying for it out of their own pocket.

"Like it or not, they're having to pay part of the bill of the Guard's peacekeeping mission," said Dale M. Pyeatt, executive director of the National Guard Association of Texas, an advocacy group for Guard members, referring to the employers of the 49th's troops. "It's hard to make a profit when one of your of key people is gone."

The strains on the home front, officials say, could prove to be one of the biggest obstacles to the Pentagon's plans to rely on the Guard and Reserves more in the future.

"It was never a matter of whether the soldiers of the 49th could do this mission," Maj. Gen. Daniel James 3rd, commander of the Texas National Guard, said in an interview at Camp Mabry in Austin. "That was a given.

"The success of this mission will come in how many jobs and how many families remain intact after they come home," General James said.

For the vast majority of the 49th's troops, the Bosnian mission has been their first extended duty abroad.

Several soldiers have become fathers while in Bosnia. Many have missed birthdays, anniversaries and less happy occasions. For Sergeant De La Rosa, duty meant being away when his mother died in June.

"I had to decide if I would let Ron know every time she had a relapse," Sergeant De La Rosa's wife, Olga, said. "I knew he wanted to know, but he was frustrated that there was nothing he could do."

Some families have relied on relatives. Maj. Ronald J. Elliott's wife, Sandra, was a captain in the regular Army, but resigned last year when he began working full time as the 49th's public-affairs officer. Before he left in February, Mrs. Elliott and their toddler triplets � Amanda, Alexandra and Joshua � moved in with her parents in Michigan.

Others have managed on their own.

Anna Maria Prusiatis has taken over the sprawling ranch outside of Lockhart, which is south of Austin, that belongs to her fianc�, First Sgt. Robert C. Wagner. She is a master sergeant in the Guard and, like Sergeant Wagner, works full time as an intelligence analyst.

After hours and on weekends, she tends 24 cattle, 30 sheep, "a couple goats" and three horses, including a colt she has not gotten around to naming. She is also planning their wedding for Oct. 28, after he returns.

It has not been easy. She broke a finger and badly bruised her knee when a horse stepped on her. Then there was the time she happened on a rattlesnake in the feed shed.

"There's nothing you do on a ranch where you couldn't use an extra pair of hands," she said.

As part of its deployment, the 49th has established a "family support" network. It includes centers at Camp Mabry in Austin and at armories in cities like San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Abilene, where families can get help with a variety of problems, including the electricity being cut off and finding counseling for children acting up because their mother or father is away.

Each center has organized video teleconferences and has soldiers and volunteers who check in with each family at least once a month. The division's commander, Maj. Gen. Robert L. Halverson, has also let soldiers off for as much as two weeks and approved four-day passes to Budapest. Some used their leaves to return home to Texas; others, like the Linses, vacationed in Europe.

"We realized early on that keeping our soldiers and families connected was vital to our mission success," General Halverson said.

For some families, that has not been enough. There have been at least four divorces in the unit, according to division officials in Austin, and they fear more when soldiers return home and try to re-establish the delicate family dynamics that have changed in their absence.

Mrs. Halkowitz, 37, met her husband in July 1999. By then he already knew he was headed for Bosnia and, she said, wanted to get married before he left. It was the second marriage for each, and it seemed to go well, she said. Their children � two each � became close. Her 5-year-old son, Bryce, grew especially fond of his new stepfather.

After they married a year ago and the deployment approached, Mrs. Halkowitz said she began to notice strains. Like all of the 49th's soldiers, he was spending extra time training for the mission, including three weeks at Fort Polk, La. She attended "family readiness" meetings and even volunteered as chairwoman of the support group in Snyder.

"They told us the soldiers go through a lot of things: anger and fear," she said. "The men will pull back because they distance themselves from what they think they're losing."

Four days before they deployed, he came home and told her the marriage was over. His lawyer filed the divorce papers the day the troops reported for active duty. She has tried to contact him through e-mail and through the 49th's commanders and its chaplain, but he has not responded. (He declined to be interviewed for this article.)

She hired a lawyer and challenged the financial terms of the divorce.

"It's like he went over there and erased whatever was going on at home," she said.

She has remained chairwoman of the local support group. She became close to a woman in Lubbock whose husband in the Guard also filed for divorce, leaving her destitute.

Mr. Halkowitz said she believed the Army and the National Guard did all they could to prepare the 49th's soldiers for peacekeeping in Bosnia, but she added, "There needs to be more training for the families, too."
- 30 -

Posts: 222 | From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jun 2000
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posted 15 September 2021 15:27     Profile for Master Blaster   Email Master Blaster     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Just the tip of the Big, Giant, Corporate Conglomerate that the US Military has turned into in the last several years. Trying desperately to hang on to every Defence budget dollar, the primary defenders of might and justice (their words not mine) have made the National Guard and the Primary Reserves the scapegoat for the lack of operational troops to be deployed to secondary peacekeeping missions (secondary only because the status of the area has degraded to stable).

The National Guard used to have an unofficial motto (spread around by the Regulars) that went "NG...No Good, No Go, National Guard".

Now who is pulling whose ass out of the fire??

The same thing is happening (and will continue to happen) in this country until there is no ready Reserve to send, but by then it will be another administration and someone elses problem and Oh My...what are we going to do now? Meanwhile...the politicians get their pension checks (rated at 8% COLA) and the young Ex Reservists that were injured or damaged as a result of UN deployment will continue to be ignored and/or screwed and all will go on until the TV goes off or they cancel Hockey Night in Canada.

"Somethings will never change, and what does change is usually worse"...attributed to a Marine field commander on his second tour in the South East Asia War Games circa 1973. He's Right.

Dileas Gu Brath

Posts: 45 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000

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