National Guard Specialist Will Return to Iraq

Stephen Currie is a student at Angelina College in Lufkin. He's also a specialist in the Army National Guard. He spent a year fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom and he's expected to deploy again sometime this summer.

The main focus of National Guardsmen is Homeland Security, but more soldiers like Currie are being shipped out.

"That used to be the case," said Currie. "Now that we're overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's not as many people on active duty that can handle it by [themselves]. There's a lot more people in the reserves than there are in active duty, so they're using the National Guard a lot more than they used to."

Like many other young soldiers, Currie has plans to finish his college education. He's earned thousands of dollars in grants and scholarships to East Texas Baptist University in Marshall - money he's worried he could lose once he's deployed.

"I signed up to be in the military and even though I'm reserved, I didn't expect not to be called up or anything like that," Currie said. "It doesn't bother me if I have to go."

But some of Currie's classmates don't share the same patriotic attitude. The thought of being forced to quit school and the possibility of being sent to Iraq, are among the factors stopping many of them from joining the military.

A.C. student, Michelle Dunbar, said, "I wanted to join the Texas National Guard, that way, I could be kind of close to home. One thing that stops me from doing it is my son and the other thing is I don't wanna go to Iraq."

Currie knows he may have to forfeit a couple of his scholarships to E.T.B.U., but he's hoping to actually get more money from the military because he'll be on a higher pay scale for serving more time overseas and on active duty.