Soldiers reflect on life after the Iraq War

6:25 PM, Mar 19, 2008   |    comments
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On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, a small group of soldiers gathered to discuss life after the war. The roundtable discussion was organized by USAction, a national non-profit group that focuses on numerous issues, including veterans' affairs. The three sergeants participating in the forum offer just a snapshot of life for soldiers after the war. Represenative Tim Walz, D - Minnesota, was there to listen to their stories. Marianne Marti talked about marrying her husband, Ryan, just two months before his deployment. He was gone for 22 months. "Most of our life together has actually been in different countries," Marianne says. "So when he got back, it was kind-of awkward." They say the V.A. immediately helped them find a marriage counselor, who happened to be just four blocks from their home. "Compared to a lot of other programs, this program really made a difference for me and my wife," Ryan says. But he can't say the same for his education benefits. He says he is now in his second semester of college and is still waiting for his G.I. Bill benefits. All three of the soldiers are members of the Minnesota National Guard and all three are also students at Minnesota State University in Mankato. "Not only am I waiting, but I'm waiting to pay the rent," says Stephen Rudenick, who is married with a son and another child on the way. "So I take out more loans and I'm doing what I tried to avoid doing through the GI Bill, which is incur more debt just to go to school," he says. Rep. Walz hopes Congress will update the G.I. Bill to help this new generation of soldiers after the war. He paraphrased former Senator Bob Dole: "You spent billions of dollars putting these troops in harm's way. You do whatever's necessary to get them out and make them whole again," Walz says. Some lawmakers are pushing to increase benefits to National guard troops and Reservists. But opponents fear the benefits could entire troops to leave the military for college.

By Joe Fryer, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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