Welcome Home, Soldier!

June 14th, 2007    Author: Staff Report    Filed Under: Opinion

There once was a soldier. This soldier enlisted in the Army Reserve in June of 2001 and entered into Basic Combat Training in late August. While on the first day of a four day training field exercise, the news came that our nation was under attack. It was the early morning of September 11, 2001.

The recruits thought it was a joke, one of the many scare tactics used to develop the soldier mentality. The game played out for the rest of the day when the recruits were ordered to return to their headquarters. As the day went on, reality became more apparent. For the first time since the beginning of basic training, the recruits were allowed to watch television. The images of the scenes in New York City and the Pentagon played over and over, sticking in the already impressionable minds of every recruit. Recruits that lived in those areas were allowed to call home. Most of the calls were answered…a few were not.

Our nation entered into a war in Afghanistan. After completing his training in December 2001, the soldier came home. He waited for a call to duty to serve his Country. Warnings, alerts and another war in Iraq came, but the soldier was never mobilized. More than a year passed and the soldier decided to attend another basic training, but this time it was for the police academy.

The now “citizen soldier” chose to serve the communities in which he grew up, the Village of Newtonsville and Wayne Township, and was appointed in October 2003. Recognizing the small town appeal of the Village and the need for a strong police presence within the Township, the “citizen soldier” worked for two years developing plans to evolve the Newtonsville Police Department into a viable resource for both communities.

The call to duty did finally come in August 2005. The printed orders stated eighteen months in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. On September 15, the soldier left for the mobilization center leaving behind his family, friends and his future career as a police officer. Over the next sixteen months the soldier served honorably in Iraq, earning six service medals in addition to a commendation medal awarded to all the members of his unit.

Upon his homecoming in January 2007 and like so many others, he simply wanted to return to his life that had been left on hold. The soldier didn’t want any recognition, parades or parties but only wanted to pick up the pieces of a life broken by war. A new sense of pride and accomplishment was instilled when he learned his goals for the Newtonsville and Wayne Township communities had finally been realized. In fact, through much time and consideration, the Township had finally recognized what had been said for the past several years and created their own police department.

The pride and accomplishment was soon shattered when the “citizen soldier” learned that regardless of his achievements in the military or as a police officer, the Township Trustess and the new Chief of Police made it very clear that he would never again hold a position in this community simply because he once served as a Newtonsville Police Officer. It’s odd that the Chief of Police would maintain this demeanor when he was once in a similar position when the City of South Lebanon dissolved their police department in favor of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office in the late 1990′s.

In light of these events, a friend offered the “citizen soldier” employment to help bring stability to his life. He was also quickly accepted by another community who valued his prior service and potential as a police officer. The “citizen soldier” accepted a new oath to protect the citizens of the community in which he was employed.

I am that Soldier, and I have proudly served the United States Army Reserve, the State of Ohio and the Village of Newtonsville as an Auxiliary Officer, Patrolman and Lieutenant in the Newtonsville Police Department. I have sworn an oath to my Country and answered the call of duty. I have sworn to protect the community and spent countless days and nights fulfilling that oath. I intend to abide by these oaths until formally removed from these obligations.

I thank the residents of the Village of Newtonsville for allowing me to serve our community. I apologize for my untimely departure in September of 2005, but hope you understand that an oath and duty to Country comes before all others. I encourage the residents of both Newtonsville and Wayne Township to look to the future and begin working together to resolve the current issues challenging their communities.

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