Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Taking care of soldiers: A father’s view

I wonder if this is what happens when one percent of society carries 99 percent of the burden of war. “I appreciate your comments about the need to take care of our soldiers. My son, David, left the army in February, having served two tours in Iraq in the 1-18  and 1-2 Infantry.  He was ...

U.S. Army
U.S. Army
U.S. Army

I wonder if this is what happens when one percent of society carries 99 percent of the burden of war.

"I appreciate your comments about the need to take care of our soldiers. My son, David, left the army in February, having served two tours in Iraq in the 1-18  and 1-2 Infantry.  He was severely wounded by an IED on his first deployment, in Baghdad in 2006.  He was a sergeant on his second tour in Diyala Province.

Before his second deployment, my son married his German girlfriend, Sabrina Lang. They had been together since early in 2006, and she and her family had been instrumental in nursing him back to health after his wounding at the end of that year.  David has now been accepted to Ohio State and has just moved to Columbus to begin school in the fall.

I wonder if this is what happens when one percent of society carries 99 percent of the burden of war.

“I appreciate your comments about the need to take care of our soldiers. My son, David, left the army in February, having served two tours in Iraq in the 1-18  and 1-2 Infantry.  He was severely wounded by an IED on his first deployment, in Baghdad in 2006.  He was a sergeant on his second tour in Diyala Province.

Before his second deployment, my son married his German girlfriend, Sabrina Lang. They had been together since early in 2006, and she and her family had been instrumental in nursing him back to health after his wounding at the end of that year.  David has now been accepted to Ohio State and has just moved to Columbus to begin school in the fall.

Without going into great detail, the State Department has been entirely unhelpful, indeed almost obstructive, in terms of Sabrina’s getting into the country to be with David. I have agreed to co-sign for her, but the consul in Frankfurt muddled the paperwork, delaying her acceptance for weeks before finally accepting it.  Now an unnamed consular official has decreed that Sabrina’s medical work is incomplete, and has again delayed her visa application.

Contrasted with what David went through in the army, this is not such a major issue.  Sabrina will eventually get her visa, but only after needless delays. My major concern for my son is that he is now alone in Columbus, his wife unable to join him for an undetermined time.  He has been diagnosed, unsurprisingly, with PTSD, and my wife and I worry about the possible consequences of his sitting in his apartment with nothing to do. This could easily have been prevented had anyone at the Consulate in Frankfurt taken an interest in helping an American veteran get resettled in our civilian society. None did so.

We had planned a welcome ceremony for David and Sabrina this weekend. About 75 people will attend. With Sabrina absent, they and a widening circle of their friends will conclude to varying degrees that the American government is callous, incompetent, and unconcerned for those who do its fighting. I fear they are correct.

Sincerely,
Jim Warnock

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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