Old Soldiers Back On Duty

<B>Bob Simon</B> Reports On Former GIs Being Ordered To Suit Up For Iraq

This past week, the Pentagon announced it's boosting the levels of U.S. troops in Iraq to its highest point ever – 150,000.

It's sending in paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne, extending the tours of Marines, and it has started drawing from a pool of semi-retired soldiers called the Individual Ready Reserve.

It's a sign that the Army needs able, and not so able, bodies very quickly. And many of the men and women being mobilized from the Ready Reserve – approximately 5,000 this year – are not very happy about it.

In fact, a third of these soldiers who've been called up haven't shown up. But if old soldiers never die, as the saying goes, the Army isn't letting them fade away. Correspondent Bob Simon reports.
Many of those soldiers who have answered the call have come to Fort Jackson, S.C., for training. It's a place none of them really expected to be. In fact, very few expected to be mobilized at all.

"I automatically started crying for about two hours. I couldn't stop, because I knew I was gonna have to leave my babies," says Spc. Carey Trevino, who was called up in August.

She's 31, and has three kids – the youngest a 7-month-old baby boy. She'll be leaving her children behind when she goes to Iraq, for another year-and-a-half.

"I need to serve my country and the call has come out, so I am doing that," says Chief Warrant Officer Margaret Murray, who did her active duty back in the '60s.

She's 55, and 4 feet, 8 inches tall. Her M-16 is almost as big as she is, but that didn't stop her from qualifying as a marksman this week.

Does she find it unusual that the Army is now calling up a female soldier in her 50s?

"No. Although I think what they need to look at is our ability to perform in a tactical environment," says Murray. "For myself, I am going to find that a difficult thing to do physically."

Especially if Murray winds up in a place like Fallujah. Does she find that daunting? "Scary," says Murray. "[But] I need to do my job. … I did not retire. And so, now the Army's calling me back to service. And I'm here to do that."
There are 110,000 men and women in the Ready Reserve right now. They generally don't train or get paid or belong to units, but they can be called up in case of war or national emergency.

This already happened during the first Gulf War, when 20,000 Ready Reservists were mobilized for 120 days. But this time around, they'll be there for up to two years.

Pvt. George Sayegh is keeping his obligation as best he can. He may not look tough, but he is very tough on the guys who are not reporting for duty. "When you abandon your country in time of warfare, I feel that, knowing what your obligation is, I believe that it is an act of cowardice," he says.

But you'd be hard-pressed to call one woman 60 Minutes talked to a coward – even though she is resisting the call to return for duty. "Mary," as we're calling her, is a senior special agent with a federal law enforcement agency. She does undercover work in the war on drugs – which is why she appeared in disguise.

"You come up against a lot of big-time criminals. And they're prepared to kill and to shoot to get out of certain situations," says Mary, of her work in the war on drugs.

Is she reluctant to return to the Army because she is afraid of danger? "No, my reluctance is because what's right," says Mary. "I thought my time was up. And they're telling me that it's not."

Like many Army officers, Mary signed up for eight years -- four years active duty, and four years in the Ready Reserves. She received her discharge certificate in 1998, but she was called up this past June to serve as a transportation officer.

"I called the Delay and Exemption Board. And the young lady that I talked to said that date [on my contract] meant nothing. That my new date is 2018," says Mary.

"I was in shock. I was like, 'What do you mean? I have a piece of paper that tells me that that's my obligation.' And for them to just send me orders and disrupt my life and pull me back, it's disheartening and I feel betrayed, I guess you could say. … The military is betraying me, because I served my time."

What Mary didn't realize is that, as an officer, she remained in the Ready Reserve -- even after her eight years were through -- because she hadn't resigned her commission as an officer.

But she's not alone. Many officers say they were never made aware of that -- that no mention is made of it in the enlistment agreements they signed. The Army, which declined a request by 60 Minutes for an interview, counters that the requirement is referred to in the agreements – if ever so obliquely.

"It's a six-digit reference to an Army regulation, that that's put in a remark section in these agreements," says Mark Waple, a lawyer who specializes in defending soldiers. "It borders on being a deceptive recruiting practice. I'm not suggesting it was intended that way."

Waple is a graduate of West Point and was once a judge advocate general in the military himself.

Nevertheless, he calls what the Army's doing now "a backdoor draft." And since June, he's been getting dozens of calls from officers around the country who are convinced the Army has no right to call them up.
Todd Parrish was the first to call. He served his four years of active duty in the 1990s as an artillery officer.

Unlike many Ready Reserve soldiers, who say they never knew they had to resign their commissions, Parrish knew, and did.

He believed that legally he was out of the military forever. But last July, Parrish and his wife, Collette, were shocked when he received one of those letters from the Army.

But when he called Army Personnel to tell them a mistake had been made, they seemed to know very little about him. In fact, they told him that he had never done his active duty.

"I said, 'Well, I served active duty. I have the records.' And then I said, 'Do you have my DD-214?,'" says Parrish.

"The DD-214 is the one that says honorable discharge on it. It's a record of everything you've done. And they said, 'No. We do not have that on file. But we can request it.' And I said, 'Request it? You're the Human Resources Command. Shouldn't you already have that before you call somebody to active duty?' They told me, 'Oh, you'll have to report, and we'll work it out from there.'"

Parrish, a veteran, knew that once he reported, he would have "given up all your rights." "Once you show up, you're gonna go to Iraq," says Parrish. "No matter how right you may be."

But should all bets be off now that the country is in a state of emergency?

"I think if they're saying that, then what they're saying is there needs to be a draft. It's over and over it's told, 'We're an all-volunteer Army. We're an all volunteer armed forces,'" says Parrish's wife, Collette.

"And if it's going to be all volunteer, it needs to be the people that have actually volunteered and want to be there - not the people who served and wanted to go on and be civilians."

Parrish is challenging his orders in federal court, where the Army is now arguing that his resignation should never have been accepted in the first place - that it was a clerical error.
Rick Howell also thought a mistake had been made when he received his notification last August. He's 47 and disabled from an accident he suffered in the military.

"I can't run anymore. If somebody was shooting at me and chasing me I couldn't run away from them. I can't, you know, if I lift anything more than 30 or 40 pounds, I literally, the rod in my arm tingles," says Howell.

He joined the Army in 1981, and became a helicopter pilot. He flew along the DMZ in Korea. Finally, in 1997, after almost 16 years of active service, he retired.

"My goal was to move back and get that life that I never had because for 16 years the Army," says Howell. "I mean, I gave the Army my life. Of course, you know, I wanted a family, you know. I wanted to marry someone and to settle down and to have a home."

And so he did. His son was born two months ago. Going back into the Army would be a major inconvenience, to say the least.

But Howell says he's willing to do it if he can serve in the United States, which he put in the form of a prayer on Thanksgiving this year.

This past week, the Army rejected Howell's offer and sent him a letter saying his exemption has been disapproved, and he has to report for duty early next year. But Howell intends to keep fighting.

What is he going to do if he has to go to Iraq?

"I don't have a choice. They're going to have to come and get me. I mean literally," says Howell. "They're going to have to come get me. And at that point in time, if they come get me, I don't have a choice. They'll have to drag me away and make me go."

  • Rebecca Leung

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