Yesterday the announcement was made officially that some of the Soldiers who are deployed with us will be going home before others do.
My blog, of course, remains completely unofficial.
Most of my friends will be leaving, but I'll be staying until the end of the originally-scheduled deployment, as it turns out.
The excitement over an accelerated reunion with loved ones isn't universal, however. For a significant plurality of my Soldiers this early REFRAD (release from active duty) represents a massive financial crisis, because it will mean a significant loss of pay.
I've spoken with many, many Soldiers -- both Enlisted and Officers -- who do not have jobs once they return Stateside. The percentage of personnel who are jobless in my Battalion is staggering. The California economy has a lot to do with that.
Since Stanford University got rid of my job while I was deployed to Iraq, I can identify with the problem of unemployment!
I won't be homeless, though, but I'm not sure that's true for some of my Soldiers, I'm afraid. You'd be surprised at the number of my guys who signed year-long leases -- on the basis of the orders we'd been given -- and now that their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) will be cut off, they're looking at severe financial hardship, and the prospect of having to find somewhere else to live. Most of these guys have young children at home.
We're having a series of resume-writing seminars and workshops over the course of the next while, in an effort to help as many of our Soldiers as we can in this area, but with the job market so terrible back home right now, who knows?
Welcome home, Soldiers! Thank you for your courageous and honorable service....
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ