Monday, April 18, 2005

A LETTER TO MY SENATOR PATTY MURRAY

Why? Why do I feel like such a failure as a father? Wouldn't a good father be there while their children grow up? To miss so much is of their lives can't be right. I realize that I have an obligation to being a soldier, but sometimes I feel that I have given the army enough of me and my family have been left wanting. What kind of dad am I? What kind of husband am I? My wife is left alone (for the second long span of time) waiting for me, and caring for our children. She is left being both mother and father. For example, my daughter will be going under for surgery tomorrow. Will I be there for her and my wife? No. I will be here in Iraq. Even to me this sounds pitiful and weak, what I really feel is rage. Rage at the kind of organization which does things like involuntarily extend thousands and thousands of its members, calling back even those who have been honorably discharged from their active service (IRR). You read the news, and you see by how many recruits that the army has failed to meet its yearly quota. Those of us left in are stuck covering those gaps formed by lack of new recruits. These gaps... Let’s talk about why they exist. They exist because soldiers are getting out of the army in droves. There are so many of us refusing to re-enlist in the kind of organization which fails to treat its members with respect or decency ALL of the time, instead of just some of the time (like when it is easy). Take me and my platoon for example. We are all linguists who specialize in the Arabic language. Now you may think that this would be important to maintain and keep up (especially if your unit is depending on you when you re-deploy back to Iraq). And for those of you out there who know what it takes to remain proficient in a language. It requires not only self study, but in order to improve you also need an instructor (preferable one who excels in the language, like a native speaker). Why else do you have teachers in the public school system but to facilitate learning? If you could just read the math and English books and just UNDERSTAND them through self study you wouldn't need teachers right? Well, we didn't even receive the army's mandatory 10 days of UNINTERUPTED language instruction the ENTIRE year before returning to Iraq. Let alone our equipment... You may have seen the "Mad Max" vehicle armor in Iraq. It is true that until the last few months many of us (to include myself) have had junk metal welded on our vehicles in lieu of actual armor. So we get sent back to Iraq this way. Lets not forget that during my last 4 months in America before re-deploying to Iraq, I was only able to spend 2 of them with my family (thank God I got Thanksgiving day and Christmas day) due to the army sending me different places for unit requirements (training that the unit needed to send a certain number of soldiers to). So now what do you have left? You have soldiers who have been so screwed over that they want nothing but to finish their enlistment with the army (whether they are involuntarily extended or not) and receive an honorable discharge. Believe me, this problem won’t improve until they begin treating us better (almost every time our battalion commander spoke to us before we left he would say things like, "some of you probably won't make it." and, "you may not all come back."). What kind of depressing message is that to for your troops? We KNOW that we may not all make it; we don't need to be reminded of it! So like I was saying, this problem won't fix itself. It will take (in addition to being treated honorably, and with respect) shorter tours away from family to Iraq and Afghanistan and an open and listening chain of command, and an end to the stop-loss policy (I thought the reason for having it was incase of a major attack, not for ongoing planned troop deployments). Our Sergeant Major said this before we left, "tell your wives that instead of calling the Inspector General (the office for investigations involving misconduct, and other discrepancies in the military) about the way we treat you all, tell them to call me. I was a recruiter and know how to talk to people." What kind of talk is this? Let’s not deal with an actual problem, just let me talk my way out of it. I ask only this! Let me go back to being a father. You (the army) have taken enough time away from me. I have served you, fought in the front lines of your war. Let me (and others like me) go, let us walk away, back to our lives and families. All I ask is that you let us do this with our honor and the honor of our Great Country.


Signed,

Sgt Zachary Scott-Singley
3rd Infantry Division (mech)

9 comments:

Mary Sundberg said...

Zach, I just wanted to say hi to you! To tell you your mom and Ingrid and Dan are doing great. We all miss you! Keep BLoGing or whatever this thing is. It's good to hear your thoughts! Much love! Mary

Anonymous said...

Zach, it's Nick's Mom, gee, what can I say - times have changed a lot since I was in, but I believe that the Army hasn't kept up with the change. My one thought to you is to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and getting to leave and see your wife and kids. You are a good Dad/husband and they'll know it and they'll be proud of you and what you are doing, as we all are proud of all the personnel serving our country.

Stacy said...

I'm going to link your letter to my blog this week. Thanks for your help with the Hello thing, I see that you're back to it. So far Flickr has done well for me. Again, thanks.

Trevor said...

hey man...i found your blog from your flickr account...i loved this letter. I am 16 and live in montana, and i hate, repeat hate, what is going on right now. complete bullshit. I do not what your thoughts on Michael Moore are, but I love the guy. he has some pretty big balls (in my opinion) to go out and do this stuff. People say he hates America, I say he loves it so much that he is trying to help it out. Well, I gotta go do some homework so i don't get "left behind" (referring to the No Child Left Behind thing)....again, thanks for the post! your bookmarked!

Kevin said...

Zach:

Your letter made me choke up (that is manly for cry). I feel for you and you need to know there are some here who are trying everything we can to get you guys home FAST. This thing is ridiculous and no one knows it more than you. I am fighting on my blog The Command T.O.C. against the militaristic right who think that this war is so good we should start another.

If you have time, comment on my Blog because one thing I fight against is how the MILBLOGGERS all say "you're not here, you don't know". It would help to get someone there writing about these problems in recruiting and general management.

One comment was made that you need to keep your eye on the light. I agree. You are there now and keep focused on staying alive and coming home to your family. You sound like a wonderful person. Everyone is proud of you. Stay with it, come home and you will be your family's hero!

Lowell said...

Zach, I appreciate the sacrifice you are making and understand fully your frustration. My own experiences in Vietnam taught me that you can serve honorably in a dishonorable war. I still wonder what the hell we were doing over there. Today I wonder what we are doing in Iraq, besides bleeding and dying for no just cause. The hardest thing for me to accept was that my friends were giving their lives for no good reason. I learned to hate war. It is the ultimate failure of diplomacy. Good luck and come home safe.

Peter Christo said...

Zach,

I'm an ex Australian Soldier. Recently become a Dad (she's 15 month's). I want you to know that by having the strength to write about what you see, you are doing a greater service to us men/fathers brothers etc than you may ever know. We see greaving soldiers holding the bodies of maimed or killed childeren in the press all the time. It could just as easyly have been our kids. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart, and know that you are not alone in that pain.

Regards,
Peter Christo

Glenn Condell said...

What Peter Christo said.

I'm Australian too, though not a soldier. Reading your blog and a few others like it has a calming effect, because it reassures me that there are thinking, feeling Americans inside the hi-tech outfits and ordnance, that not all of them consider Iraqis inferior, that in fact most of you are far more decent than the liars and manipulators who sent you there.

Stay safe.

Devon Latorre said...

Very interesting.