While I agree with Kerry C. Kachejian’s assessment that civilians are essential to operations in deployed environments (“Civilians are in the fight, essential to mission,” column, July 22), I call BS on the level of sacrifice they incur and endure as a result of their selfless volunteerism.

An Army private collects about or slightly less than $24,000 for a year deployed to a combat environment and suffers a degradation in quality of life that the civilian will never come close to experiencing unless he’s had the privilege to deploy in uniform. Add in six-figure compensation, a wet CHU (containerized housing unit), and a private vehicle for the civilian to run around the forward operating base in and it’s a slap in the face to servicemembers who endure much, much more along with the very real prospect of getting blown up or shot every day they conduct missions outside the wire. Offer that $24,000 to those civilians, as opposed to the salary and accommodations they get now, and then they’ll know the real meaning of sacrifice.

Capt. Thomas J. Martinez

Contingency Operating Site Warhorse, Iraq

Volunteering is not only factor

I was shocked while reading the July 21 letter “True service means a war zone” and especially could not believe that this input was coming from a major in the U.S. Army. Obviously this officer doesn’t understand the “whole” concept of the U.S. military (which we count on officers knowing from the beginning).

Not every soldier in the U.S. Army gets the chance to go to war or enter a war zone. It depends on career jobs and paths, unit assignments, and timing.

Let’s say you PCS to Fort Lewis, Wash., but the unit to which you are assigned just returned and is not due for another rotation for three years (after you PCS again). You cannot just pick up the phone and say, “I want to go to war.” It just doesn’t work like that, outside of a movie studio.

I am sure there are a few soldiers out there who have no desire to enter a war zone. However, there are many who would but never get the chance. It is wrong to label any servicemember as not serving our country just because he has not deployed to a combat zone. It takes an overall effort in many locations around the U.S. and the world to make up the team. Every servicemember — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard — regardless if active duty or Reserve, signed up to serve the country and go where he is told to go. Simply volunteering will not get you to the war zone.

When the war ends, do we need the military? Because, by the letter writer’s definition, you are not serving your country unless you have been to war. I have been to the sandbox and disagree with his assessment.

One more thing, only the Army has combat patches; the other services do not populate their battle uniforms with patches.

Sgt. 1st. Class Renn Avery

Budapest, Hungary

Attack was unprofessional

To the author of the July 21 letter “True service means a war zone”: I am an Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) officer currently deployed to Iraq. From 2003 until 2008, I volunteered at every opportunity I was offered to serve with deploying units. Each of those efforts was met with a resounding “No” by the first general officer in my chain of command. During those years I was not assigned to any units that deployed while I was assigned to them. I was finally given the opportunity to deploy in late 2008, completed that deployment and returned to a new unit where I was promptly asked by my new chief of staff what I knew about Victory Base Complex, Iraq, as we would deploy as a unit in early 2011. My story is not unique for AGRs.

It may hold some truth that there have been soldiers of all components who have avoided deployments. They must live with their actions. It is also true that many of my colleagues were denied by the chain of command and may not ever get an opportunity, not through any fault or lack of action on their part. And yet they still serve honorably and in demanding positions.

Your understanding of the systems that dictate who can deploy and when is lacking. Your professionalism, via assaulting a straw man of your own making, is even more lacking.

Lt. Col. William Scott Corliss

Al Asad Air Base, Iraq

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