Military Families Say That Military Children Are the Forgotten Victims of the Iraq War

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sean Donahue, Communications Director,
(617) 983-0710 (w), (978) 809-8054 (c)
press@mfso.org

Military Families Say That Military Children Are the Forgotten Victims of the Iraq War

While April Is Deemed 'Month of the Military Child'

NATIONWIDE - Celeste Zappala's grief
over her son's death is compounded by the pain of watching her grandson grow up
without a father.

"When I see my grandson, now 14 years old,
and looking more like his Dad everyday, I ache for the years of a loving Father
he has lost."
  said
Zappala,
Philadelphia,
PA 
whose son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed in
Iraq on
April 26, 2004, "His Dad died in
Iraq five years ago, and he is navigating
growing to manhood with out the best role model there could ever be. I look at
this quiet, guarded boy and think he did not agree to lose his father in a
senseless war, and yet his loss has turned out to be the greatest sacrifice
of all."

As we enter April, the "Month of
the Military Child," Zappala and other members of Military Families Speak Out
(MFSO) are reflecting on the toll the war in
Iraq has taken
on children growing up in military families.

Annie McCabe of
Minneapolis,
MN, who serves on MFSO's Board of Directors,
stated,

"My husband deployed when my son was
16-months-old, and we were told by both the Army and any 'experts' I could find
that he was too young to notice what was going on.  They weren't the ones
waking up in the middle of the night to broken-hearted cries of 'Daddy!' or
spending the next 16 months literally peeling a toddler off their neck every
time they needed time alone.  When my husband was home on leave and people
would thank him for his service, I wanted to scream at them 'Thank my
son!'  He's paying the highest price.

"Two years later, we're still dealing with
the repercussions: age-inappropriate separation anxiety, crying some nights
before bed that Mom or Dad will get on an airplane and never come home. 
Even at four, I cannot explain to him that Daddy never wanted to leave him, but
did.  That it won't happen again; that he can relax and be four. 
We're one of the lucky military families - we're not facing another
deployment.  This has been incredibly hard, and will remain with him for
the rest of his life."

The sons and daughters of
service-members are not the only American children suffering as a result of the
war in Iraq --
children also suffer when their sisters and brothers are sent to war.   Elaine Brower, another member of
Military Families Speak Out from Staten Island .
New York is the mother of a Marine
Corps Reservist now serving in
Iraq.   She has watched her son's three
deployments -- two to
Iraq and one to
Afghanistan --
take a heavy toll on her daughter. 
Brower said,

"My son and daughter were inseparable as
kids.  They slept in the same room until they were pre-teens, sharing a
bunk bed and laughing all night, until I really needed to get some rest. 
My daughter loved her older brother, and he was her companion, since I was a
single mom for a very long time.  She followed him around as a toddler, up
until he enlisted in the Marine Corps. at the age of 17, she was 15.  When
he was first deployed, she became a changed daughter and sibling.  At 17
she locked herself in her room, became totally unsocial with everyone, and
always sullen.  She started writing dark stories and painted sad
pictures.  Her response to his calls home were in anger, she wouldn't speak
with him.  Now, on his third tour, my daughter, although 25, cries at the
mention of her brother.  To her credit, she became a high school teacher,
but remains sullen and sad.  Reality hit her at a very young age, and
changed her forever."

McCabe remains deeply concerned
about the continuing impact of the war in
Iraq on military
children:

"By continuing the Iraq War, not only are we
causing bodily and mental harm to our troops and the people of Iraq, and
spending money we don't have, we're causing long term psychological damage to a
generation of military kids - damage we clearly don't understand.  Kids are
facing parents' multiple deployments like never before, and living in a world
that doesn't understand their struggles, because most Americans are barely aware
of the war that is at home every night for military
families."

Members of Military
Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for
interview.

###

Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) is an organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones who are currently in the military or who have served in the military since the buildup to the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. Formed by two families in November of 2002, we have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world. Our membership currently includes over 3,400 military families, with new families joining daily.

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