War vets return home from Iraq

May 3, 2008 6:38:54 PM PDT
Some battle tested Iraq war veterans are making the transition back into civilian life and it was jubilation at all three Bay Area airports Saturday afternoon as soldier after soldier re-entered normal life.

Dozens flew back into the Bay Area Saturday at Oakland International Airport, where we had a chat with some of the returning National Guard members.

"It's just really, really, really good to be home finally," as one soldier told us.

And while coming home has indescribable benefits, it also includes challenges ahead.

After spending nine months in combat mode, these National Guardsmen now turn back into civilians.

"You've been gone for so long, you get accustomed to being somewhere else and now you're back around all these people and start a whole new life," says Brian Russell of the National Guard.

For one soldier, that life includes a new son. It's a much more tender existence than what they've been living since last fall.

A war in Iraq that's taking its toll on thousands of soldiers long after they return home. A private study shows about one in five of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress.

"I can empathize with them, but I'm not going to be able to put myself in their shoes because everybody deals with things differently, so I can only be there to support them, that's how I look at it," Robert Hensley of the National Guard.

Hensley says the VA is there to help.

"If there's any question they might be suffering from something, they need to seek some help, very seriously."

Military mother Susan Pierce says she'll do what it takes to help her son re-adjust.

"We'll give him that time. He served his country and we're thrilled, that's the sacrifice you make," says Pierce.


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