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How Can an Iraq-war Veteran Be a Man Without a Country?

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by batgirl, May 27, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

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    For most of us, Memorial Day is a day of remembering — and hot dogs and soda and beer. For 27-year-old Agifa Constable of Old Bridge, who served for 15 months in Iraq, the challenge of Memorial Day, and every day, is forgetting. Constable saw buddies killed in training exercises. He saw buddies die in combat. While on duty in Baghdad, he was forced to stop a would-be suicide bomber who eluded two checkpoints. He opened fire, killing the man. He returned home with proof — pictures of the car and gruesome pictures of the man inside.

    After one attack, he tried to retrieve the body of a dead American soldier. "I picked the boy up and his body came in half." He suffered a hearing loss, an eye injury and stress fractures of his legs that have yet to heal properly. He suffers from complications after the surgical removal of his appendix. But that is not the worst of it. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and recently spent more than two months in an in-patient PTSD program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Lyons.

    "He now complains of recurrance of intrusive thoughts related to his experience in Iraq," according to a diagnosis at Lyons. When explaining events, his voice often cracks, or he loses his train of thought. As our time together came to an end at his Old Bridge home, he fetched a cigarette, and apologized for having to light up. It is easier to sleep during the day, when it is bright outside, he said. When it's dark out, he wonders who's watching his back. He said his time in Iraq caused an end to a four-year relationship with his fiancee, who left him for another soldier, telling Constable, "He's not as crazy as you are."

    In February, prior to his being admitted to Lyons, he returned to his native Jamaica to bury his grandmother. His friends in Jamaica remembered him as as a skilled soccer player. When they invited him to play, he had to say no, because of the problems with his legs. "I cried," he recalled. Yet he considers himself lucky. "Seventy-two guys from New Jersey died. I made it. I came home alive," said Constable.

    Despite what he went through in Iraq, he considers the mission worthwhile. "We helped a lot of people. I believe in democracy. For the kids that's a good thing," he said. He recalled being in training in Kentucky when the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, took place. He volunteered to accept an assignment in Germany, which would put him closer to the Middle East, after being told, "If you want to get the (enemy) that's the best place to go." After all he did — putting his life on the line, and absorbing memories he cannot shake — Agifa Constable is angry with the Unites States. He has been unable to meander through the red tape, and obtain citizenship. His sister, who was born in the Unites States, is a citizen. Not so Agifa, who came to the United States at the age of 16.

    "If I was killed (in Iraq) I would have died an American soldier. I would not have been a citizen," he said. An estimated 26,000 military personnel have obtained citizenship after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, once President Bush expedited the process. Seventy-five service members have received their citizenship posthumously.

    The idea of swift citizenship is not universally accepted, however. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates restrictions on immigration, told the Washington Post that granting citizenship to soldiers might be seen as a ticket into the United States. "It becomes a kind of mercenary thing," he said.

    Constable did not go to war as a mercenary. After graduating from Sayreville War Memorial High School, he worked in Manhattan, and he knew victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. On Friday, Constable contacted the office of Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and a member of his staff confirmed the call. The office will see what it can do. Speeding the process for Constable is the right thing to do.

    Enjoy your hot dogs and soda and beer tomorrow, and remember people such as Agifa Constable and his buddies.


    Source: Rick Malwitz, Home News Tribune
     
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  3. armyed

    armyed New Member

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    Yes, always remember them

    I paid a visit to the grave site of my Great Grandpa Betz world war 1 vet. In honor to his sprit and others as well, we placed red, white and blue flowers and flages at there grave sites as we walked threw the head stones and read the names out loud. We will remember always our soldiers and their sacrifices. Thank you for sharing your story and facts. Ed
     
  4. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

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    Thanks Ed, and welcome to the forum. I've been trying to find military stories to include here, because I'm from a military family myself, my granddad, father, 2 uncles, and several cousins are/were in the military, and I don't think soldiers get enough credit for what they've done while deployed. And definitely not enough support when they come home with PTSD. Things are changing, but not fast enough.
     
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