Let’s just let the Star and Stripes newspaper tell the story the way it did in Friday’s Mideast edition:
In response to continuing financial strains, U.S. Army Europe has canceled all welcome-home celebrations for units returning from deployment through this fiscal year, halting the tradition of free food, rides and other community festivities for returning soldiers and their families.
No free beer, either.
Wait a second. This is just plain wrong. Eighteen-hour days, no days off, dust, danger, separation — and no party at the end of it?
Among those being deprived of a homecoming bash is the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, in Iraq for a year, scheduled to return to its base in Germany last month but had its deployment extended until March. Also deprived is that last unit of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, to return home.
According to the Stars and Stripes, the families are trying to organize potluck suppers for the returnees, but that means the spouses have to do all the work. And potato salad and KFC from the base commissary don’t really say, “Party!”
We’ve spent over $350 billion on this war so far, so surely we can scrape up a few bucks for beer, brats, a band and a Moon Bounce. It’s the American way of thanks.