GUEST COMMENTARY by JUDE PRATHER
Months after losing a very close city council election by three votes, I learned that I had been involuntary recalled by the Army to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
It happened (the recall) during finals last spring when my wife came into the house crying with a large envelope packet from the Army. I knew then that I was recalled back into the Army. The packet contained orders under the National Emergency declared by Presidential Proclamation 7463, which gives the Army the authority to recall soldiers from inactive status in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) to active status in the U.S. Military.
When soldiers finish their active duty time in the military they are discharged into the IRR to serve the remainder of their eight-year obligation. Dubbed as the “back door draft”, IRR recalls and “stop loss” orders have become a much needed method the Army is using to fill unit ranks while fighting the Global War on Terror.
According to The Army Times, the Army began recalling IRR soldiers as early as 2004. Since Sept. 11, 2001, almost 16,000 mobilization orders have been issued for IRR soldiers, and more than 7,600 have reported for duty. Of the 7,600, more than 2,200 were deemed non-deployable. The Army also issued almost 7,500 delays or exemptions. I was not happy about the recall but I knew that I was not the only one in this situation.
I am however proud to serve my nation along with the famed Japanese American unit of WW2 and one of the military’s most decorated units the 100th Battalion 442nd Infantry Regiment. Many of the soldiers in my unit were recalled back into the Army after being out for years. So I began to help the recalled soldiers in my unit start a letter writing campaign to make Congress aware of our situation and ask them to include recalled soldiers in HR 6205 “The Stop Loss Compensation Act.”
I wish more people were aware of soldiers being recalled back into the Army. The last seven years of war have proved to be the most demanding on our military and their families. It is time that we start to serve those who have served.
As for right now I am looking forward to my four day pass beginning on Oct 22 before I deploy. I am also going to be heading straight to the voting booth at Texas State LBJ Student Center after my units going away ceremony at Ft. Hood on Oct 22 to vote. As soldiers we defend democracy so it is important that we participate in it. Other stories of my recall can be found at http://www.sanmarcosmercury.com/2008/05/prather-headed-to-iraq-for-army-tour/