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News: Protest Activity
Family members of deployed reservists, guardsmen voice concerns
By DANA STRONGIN
The Kansas City Star
Sun, Sep. 21, 2003

Lack of food, equipment and medical supplies. Delayed returns home. Inability to send and receive correspondence.

More than 100 friends and family members of deployed military personnel voiced these concerns Saturday.

Claps and tears broke out during the discussions by spouses and parents of reservists and National Guardsmen who went to VFW Post 2993 in Olathe to meet U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Kansas Democrat.

Moore said he held the discussion so he could share the concerns with members of Congress next week.

Cindy Norris of Shawnee clutched a tissue as she described her decision to ignore news that might relate to her son's Army reserve duty in Iraq.

But, she said, she changed her mind and started to talk about her fears.

"I realized that my son couldn't afford my silence," she said.

Like many others who spoke, Norris said she worried about whether reservists were getting proper meals and medicine.

Kansas City resident Elena Partridge, whose husband is in Kuwait, spoke along with three other wives whose husbands have not returned.

Partridge said she was upset that women are learning what their husbands are doing overseas from the media before they hear from the military.

"We're sad, we're angry, we're frustrated, and we're all single moms right now," she said.

Others described the economic burdens that having a family member gone too long can create.

Employers can go only so long without their workers, and reservists who own businesses are losing money every day, said Janie Montgomery, whose husband is with the 129th Transportation Company in Kuwait and Iraq.

The company's return date has been extended. Montgomery said family members set up a Web site, www.129bringthemhome.com, to get signatures from people who agree that reservists should not serve for more than a year.

What family members need is support from others, said Olathe resident Linda Scaggs, who has watched her friend, Jamie Corkran, struggle with housework and other duties in the absence of her husband, Dan.

Scaggs said Corkran could use help mowing her lawn and painting her house's interior. In addition, she said, parents could invite reservists' children on outings.

That kind of help, Corkran said, would help her two children feel more comfortable.

"I feel like I'm an outsider," she said. Her son and daughter don't know other children whose parents are serving overseas.

After the 90-minute discussion, Moore met privately with others who wanted to tell him their concerns.

He also shared a letter he sent to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, asking Rumsfeld to address worries about water, shelter and other conditions.

Family members of reservists and guardsmen deserve answers, Moore said.

"I think a lot of the concern is just uncertainty," he said.


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