Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kentucky soldiers and their families know the war is far from over

Conflicts have deep impact on culture
Posted: December 3, 2011

MCT News Wire
LONDON, Ky. — On Veterans Day 2011, Timothy Jackson, a former sailor in the U.S. Navy and the son of a man who was the same, visited a small, unfinished gravesite on a hilltop alongside a winding road. It belonged to Timothy Matthew Jackson, who went by Matt and had himself been a Marine.

And in three generations of Jackson men to serve, Matt was the first to die in combat. He was 22.

It’s been a wrenching year for the Jackson family. And for the communities in and around London, it’s been a wrenching decade. A decade ago in October, America went to war — first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. At 10 years, the war on terror is almost as long as World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined.

Now, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are nearing their end, as President Barack Obama has plans to bring U.S. troops back from Iraq by the end of this month and reduce forces in Afghanistan — still a hot zone — by the middle of 2012.

But for the soldiers of Kentucky and their families, the war is far from over.

To understand the impact of these wars on the American fabric, McClatchy Newspapers reviewed reams of reports and records from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It settled on London — a typical small American town that, when it comes to matters of war, is anything but typical.

In the past decade, nearly 200 men and women from these parts have left the service and are now collecting disability payments for the injuries they sustained during military service. Three soldiers from London were killed outright, a higher number than most small towns and many larger ones.
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