Local Iraqi veterans react to troop withdrawal

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - 18 months ago, Danya Jones was just getting home from Iraq.

"You wanted to be home more than anything else in the world," says Jones.

His job overseas was to make sure soldiers had the parts and equipment they needed for combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But when he found out he was coming home?

"I was elated. It was like my first birthday party. I was ready to come home and see my kids," he says.

Captain Cindy West shares a similar story. She served in Iraq twice and came home last May.

"It was exciting but scary at the same time because I had a comfort zone in Iraq because that was my family. I had been deployed with them for ten months, they were my family, and then coming home I was just afraid of starting over."

The two say they can only imagine what the last combat brigade is feeling as they make their way home.

"They're probably really excited, ya know and at the same time nervous. You don't know what to expect when you come home because you've been away from your comfort zone for a year," says West.

"It's the best thing in the world that could ever happen to them and they know it," adds Jones.

Jones and West will tell you their time in Iraq was well worth it.  Even when a day's work meant their lives were at risk.

"I think what we did was plant a seed. And the seed seems like it's growing real well. It's starting to spread out now. Iraqi forces look like they're going to be able to stand up on their own," says Jones.

"I like being able to help people and make their country better," adds West.

Most veterans are glad to see the brigade coming back. But, some wonder if the timetable for withdrawal is too soon and if leaving non-combat soldiers without the combat support is a good thing.

Still some say it's time for them to come home because it's been so draining on their families.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization has many assistance programs and counseling opportunities for both military families and veterans returning from overseas.

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