COLUMBIA - The tenth anniversary of the terrorism attacks of September 11, 2001 is nearing, but another anniversary is approaching as well. The ten year anniversary of the "War on Terror," America's longest running war.
Mid-Missourians have contributed to this war since its beginnning and the MIssouri National Guard is still involved. The 175th Military Police Batallion deployed in early September this year on a year-long security mission to Qatar. The unit's members are leaving behind their families who must fill the daily gap left behind by their soldier. A decade-long war means this isn't the first deployment for many soldiers. Captain Welsley Dickman is on his second, having been deployed to Iraq once before. He said spirits were high on the day of the deployment ceremony, and that he feels the troops are ready and excited.
But what happens when a soldier's tour of duty is over and he or she must return to civiilan life? Gerardo Mena is a student veteran at the University of MIssouri. He is also a poet and wants to be an English teacher. He joined the United States Navy the summer after 9/11 and said the events of that day motivated him to serve. After a tour in Japan, he was sent to Iraq and said readjusting to civilian life was difficult. He returned to school and connected with other student veterans through the Missouri Student Veterans Association. He began writing poetry as an outlet for the thoughts and emotions he carried over from war. Mena's poetry has been published multiple times.
The Missouri National Guard has sent more than 11,000 soldiers to fight in the "War on Terror," and just as many families have been affected as a result. Thirteen Missouri National Guard soldiers have lost their lives while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Noble Eagle. A congressional report released in March said the war has cost America 1.283 trillion dollars since it began ten years ago, and almost 6,000 U.S. troops have lost their lives in the fighting.