The president declared an end to major combat in Iraq almost three months ago, but the casualty rate is higher today than it was during the war. 49 U.S. soldiers have been killed since May, including five Alabamians.
It's troubling news to many families with loved ones in the region. Not only are they hearing about it all on television and radio like the rest of us, many spouses get to e-mail or telephone their loved ones. So they're hearing about this real-life danger, first-hand.
When U.S. forces attacked the home of Saddam Hussein's sons' home recently, soldiers from Montgomery were there. "They laid on the ground while bullets flew all around them," said one of their wives, Jennifer Monk.
You might remember meeting Army Reserve Sgt. James Monk on WSFA in February when he deployed. Since then, he's called his wife and daughter, McKenzie, with updates from the frontlines. But Jennifer says she never expected to hear this. "I think that he thought that was the end," she says. "He said he was thinking about me and McKenzie while he was there on the ground."
Now that the attack is over, Sgt. Monk's unit, the 926th Engineer Group, is surveying the damage and helping rebuild adjacent homes. It's not dangerous work, but it's still in a dangerous location. And Jennifer says she never knows what the next phone call will bring.
"You just have to stay positive," she says. And in such a helpless situation, staying positive is about all you can do. Even the military says the first step in coping with a loved one's deployment is to accept the fact that you have no control over what might happen.