The Des Moines Register - Obama Says Soldiers Should Not Get Unexpected Tour Extensions
By JASON CLAYWORTH
Waterloo, Ia. - American soldiers should not encounter unexpected war extensions, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told about 450 people here Thursday.
As president, Obama said, he would advocate for more crackdowns on employers who fail to keep jobs open for deployed Guard members. He also emphasized the need to extend federal leave acts that allow family members to care for injured troops, enhance educational benefits and provide mental health care at every stage of military service.
He specifically highlighted the Iowa National Guard's 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, whose members learned from friends and family early this year of their 4Â½-month deployment extension. The troops came home in July after almost two years in Iraq.
Unexpected deployments and extended tours "shortchange" the country, which depends on the troops for homeland security, the Illinois senator said.
"I won't be a president who extends tours for our Guard units overseas, while Americans are stranded on rooftops right here in the United States of America," Obama said at the Boys and Girls Club of Black Hawk County. He was referring to people trapped by flooding after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
Obama also made stops in Independence and Decorah on Thursday on what his staff has called the "judgment and experience tour," which wraps up today. During the tour, he is emphasizing how his opposition to the war in 2002 is an indicator of his leadership abilities.
Ryan Murphy served in Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserves in the 445th Transportation Battalion. He attended Thursday's event in Waterloo and said many voters haven't digested why Obama is a better candidate.
"The most impressive to me is that, from the get-go, he was completely opposed to it," Murphy said of the war. "I think the message is getting out there but not to the degree that it should."