soldieriniraq.jpgHere’s a gut check on behalf of our troops and their families:

…Kelly waits anxiously for each phone call from her husband. They come almost daily and trigger fears of the worst kind when they don’t. That often means that someone in his company has been injured or killed and the military has cut off phone access until the next of kin has been notified. That’s when Kelly starts looking out the window, fearing the worst.

“There have been times when we’ve gone seven, eight days,” says Kelly. “After 48 hours, you know it’s not yours. … And I know it sounds terrible, but then you think, ‘Thank God it’s not mine.’”

When the phone finally rings, Kelly sinks into the crimson-and-rust cushions of her sofa and listens as Joe describes his days on patrol.

While it is a relief to hear his voice, their conversations raise other concerns. Joe’s moods are unpredictable, ranging from tenderness to rage.

“I never know who I’m going to get on the phone,” Kelly said. “He’s really been in the thick of it. … He worries that he won’t be the same person when he gets back.”…

Eleven members of Charlie Company have been killed and 40, including Joe, have been awarded Purple Hearts for battle wounds. He was shot in the forearm last month but was back out on patrol three days later. Kelly says he’s also suffered two concussions — one from an IED and another from a grenade blast.

Still, what may have been the worst moment of the war for Joe and Kelly came in April, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that U.S. Army tours would be extended from 12 months to 15.

Joe heard the news not from his commander, but by phone from Kelly. She said he couldn’t believe it would include his company.

“His exact words were: ‘It better not be us. I will f—ing lose it,’” recalled Kelly. “And I thought, ‘Oh my God, is something in his brain going to snap?’”

The strains of long immersion in life-and-death situations are familiar to anyone who has had loved ones serve in an armed conflict. But experts say the uncertainty and fear felt by family members in this war are amplified by how few people are being called on, and to what extent.

Our soldiers are not pieces on a chess board. They are living, breathing human beings who deserve to be treated with the respect that they have earned with their blood and sacrifice. It is well past time that we looked at the real world consequences of what the Bush Administration is doing to our nation’s military and all of their families with their lack of care for those who are actually doing the fighting.

Please keep those calls going to the Senate on behalf of the Webb Amendment.

You can call toll free here (H/T to Katymine):

1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437

Every single Senator needs a call today, regardless of whether they are on the target lists.  You can find individual office numbers here.  Here are some Senators that I’m hearing could use some extra persuasion:

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
DC: 202-224-6665
Anchorage: 907-271-3735

George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
DC: (202) 224-3353
Cleveland: (216) 522-7095

Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina)
DC: 202-224-6342
Raleigh: 866-420-6083

John Warner (R-Virginia)
DC: (202) 224-2023
Roanoke: (540) 857-2676

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
DC: 202-224-2541
Louisville: 502-82-6304

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
DC: 202-224-4254
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951

Bonus – Ask Harry Reid to “don’t let Republicans obstruct – make them stand and filibuster”:

Harry Reid
DC: 202-224-3542
Las Vegas: 702-388-5020

Also, Sen. Webb’s staff has put together a great tool for e-mailing your Senators about the amendment. Thanks again for all the effort, gang. Your Constitution and your nation (and this blogger) really appreciate it!

(Photo via Soldier’s Media Center.)

UPDATE:  For other ways that you can support our troops and their families, see here and here.

UPDATE #2Georgia10 at DKos calls out the craptastic attempt by McCain and Warner to provide a flimsy substitute amendment for the Webb one that looks purty on the surface but does absolutely nothing for our troops and their families.  Nice ethics you have there, fellas.

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com