Letter to the Editor

Back to Iraq

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Dear Editor,

I'm going to Iraq again.

It wasn't an easy decision. A large part of me just wants a normal life. But something deeper in me has to serve wherever I can be of use. So, I'm going to help in the rebuilding as an engineer. It seems that my skill set -- including a previous deployment to Iraq, education as an engineer and some Arabic language training -- can be of use right now. So I accepted a one-year position with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Long hours and less-than-Halliburton pay, perhaps, but the work needs done. Projects that I'll have waiting for me when I arrive in Iraq are a school, a water treatment plant, and a hospital renovation.

Charging the emotions of the issue is the fact that the war in Iraq is a subject close to many of us on a personal level. We all have strong feelings on the issue.

Too many of the discussions, I hear, unfortunately, are about numbers -- 3,257 American casualties; we need 30,000 more troops; or we need to pull back all 130,000 by next year. Numbers aren't the issue. Numbers aren't fighting, and the future of numbers was never at stake. What I'd like to hear more of is debate about people -- about our military's mission, about the leadership of our elected officials, and about the ordinary people of Iraq -- the people whose rights we supposedly started this war for -- who are now caught in the middle.

I can't bring peace to the Middle East. But I can help build again, so unless God or Congress changes my plans, that's what I'm going to do, starting in May. I expect to be back home in a year. Some people have asked me to continue to write from time to time. That's up to the editor. Otherwise, drop me an e-mail at jeff@tidyman.us and keep me in your prayers. For me, it's just time to get to work.

Jeff Tidyman,


EDITOR'S NOTE -- We'd be honored to again publish Tidyman's columns from Iraq. A former candidate for Legislature, he responded with the following list when we asked for a summary of his overseas experiences:

India, February-March 2007, cultural exchange through Rotary Group Study Exchange

Egypt, May-August 2005, language study at Arabic language school

Iraq, September 2004-April 2005, foot patrols with Marine Corps Reserve infantry

Mexico, March 1994, volunteer work through Campus Christians

Israel, July-August 1993, relief work among Palestinians through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship


Iraq, May 2007-June 2008, reconstruction with the Army Corps of Engineers

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