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Transcript:

September 12, 2008

BILL MOYERS:A week ago we aired a report following several of the 2,800 New Jersey National Guard as they prepared to ship out to Iraq...

MINNIE HILLER-COUSINS:We have proven we are not 'weekend warriors.' Hooah!

BILL MOYERS:Many of them leaving behind families coping emotionally and financially with their loved ones' deployments.

TINA PARKS:Makes me mad. I'm angry. I mean at the same time, I know that in Iraq, a lot of people are suffering badly for no reason, and I, you know, consider ourselves lucky, the country we live in, and the freedom we have in this country and those poor people don't have it. And he—they go there to help them, but it still doesn't make it easy for me.

BILL MOYERS:One woman, Ronnie Micciulla, has made it her mission to help the National Guard soldiers get by in any way she can. She runs a local non-profit organization called A.R.M.S., that raises money and goods.

RONNIE MICCIULLA:It's sinful. It's sinful when I have to watch these poor families whose husbands are over there really struggling. And you know what? It's hard enough giving up the one you love for a year. That's hard enough. They shouldn't have to worry about, "How am I gonna put food on the table?"

BILL MOYERS:We received a number of powerful responses to that report and wanted to share a few...here's some of what you had to say.

ELLEN:Thank you for sharing the lives of these National Guard members. As a mother and as an American, these stories tear my heart out. I feel like we are living in two Americas. One world is fighting this war and the upper classes are watching it on TV. We must bring these people home to their families.

MARTIN KOUGHAN:It's hard not to notice the class and cultural factors that define the soldiers who serve in the National Guard. It is so immensely cruel that these are the people who have to bear the brunt of a misguided policy hatched by oil men to serve their oil friends.

JACK G. CAIG:One of the primary responsibilities of the Guard is to function as an integral part of the military when it is necessary. This is a given. All people who join the Guard know this before they take their oath. I resent your presenting this as if the Guard is being taken advantage of. Since before Vietnam, the National Guard has been an integral part of our military preparedness.

GARY W. DENNING, SSG:Now we, as soldiers, all know that this is a part of the 'contract', especially in time of war, but in retrospect it feels like only a small percentage (1-3%) of a nation at war are paying the price...And those of us who can survive and earn retirement with most of our health are the lucky ones, those who don't are the true heroes whose families need more than just our thanks.

TERRI:This deployment is unjust, unfair, and just plain wrong. It is extracting a huge toll on our friends, neighbors, co-workers, their families and friends. And it will result in huge costs far into the future. Costs that not only the National Guard and their families will have to bear, but costs that residents across New Jersey will have to bear.

DOUG:I am a retired reservist who also served in the Guard and on active duty. I am as opposed to the war in Iraq as anyone...however, I looked at those families and the sacrifices they are making and ask, what can I do? My goal on Monday is to find a way to support those families left behind and it will not be 'lip service' or a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of my car.

BILL MOYERS:To find out how you can help the National Guard soldiers and their families — or soldiers from any branch of the service — go to our map of resources on our website at pbs.org. You'll learn there more about your local National Guard unit, and how to contact the groups — like A.R.M.S. — that support them. Many of these groups depend upon donations to keep going, and the faltering economy has hit them hard, leaving them barely able to survive.

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