A Reservist's Reward -- Bankruptcy

reservist CBS

On a sun soaked street in northern California, Air Force reservist Oscar Rodriguez is finally back home from active duty, where, as CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports, the high and unexpected cost of war has taken a toll.

"They ain't giving us a loan cause I got bad credit," says Rodriguez.

"It was hard seeing my mom," says his daughter Desiree. "I mean seeing her stressed and seeing her cry - it hurts a lot."

When Master Sgt. Rodriquez and his company were activated for one year -- on eight hours notice -- he left behind his wife to run the couple's construction company.

"My dad was away and so she's pretty much was doing this on her own cause he can't do anything about it when he's gone, and I can't really do anything about it, but I try," says Desiree.

They all tried, but with Rodriguez at war, repairing Air Force cargo planes, the family income was cut by 80 percent.

"I lost the bids for my construction projects," says Rodriguez. "I lost my savings. I lost my credit. My credit history - it's in shambles."

Despite federal laws protecting active duty reservist from creditors during wartime, the creditors kept calling. Their home is now in foreclosure.

"You do everything that you're supposed to do without asking for help," says his wife Kathy. "All you want is for everyone to do the right thing."

The Rodriguez family aren't they only ones who've sacrificed. Of the nearly 200,000 reservists on active duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world, one-third have taken a pay cut in order to serve their country.

Rodriguez is now trying to rebuild his business one step at a time. He's gone from building hotels to kitchen counters. He's suing his creditors as much for the principle as the money.

"It's about every soldier, sailor, airman or marine," says Rodriguez. "Anybody who's serving our country has a right to at least not be concerned about the wolves knocking at the door."

Asked if they're going to recover, Rodriguez and his wife say they aren't sure.

"We're separated,'' said Kathy Rodriguez, as her husband sat silently beside her.

The strain of duty and debt may have cost this couple their marriage. Yet, Rodriguez has re-enlisted.

He's a member of an Air Force Honor Guard.

For him, sacrifice isn't a slogan. In war there are casualties, both overseas and at home.
  • Jaime Holguin

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