Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Nearly 900 children have lost a parent in Iraq

Nearly 900 children have lost a parent in Iraq :
INNOCENCE LOST: THE HIDDEN CASUALTIES OF THE IRAQ WAR
CHILDREN OF THE FALLEN By LISA HOFFMAN and ANNETTE RAINVILLE

“Sad to the depths of his 4-year-old soul, Jack Shanaberger knew what he didn't want to be when he grows up: a father.

"I don't want to be a daddy because daddies die," the child solemnly told his mother after his father, Staff Sgt. Wentz "Baron" Shanaberger, a military policeman from Fort Pierce, Fla., was killed March 23 in an ambush in Iraq.

On that terrible day, Jack and his four siblings joined the ranks of the largely overlooked American casualties who, until now, have gone uncounted. Although almost daily official announcements tally the war dead, the collateral damage to the children left behind has not been detailed.

But, from Defense Department casualty reports, obituaries and accounts in hometown newspapers, and family interviews, Scripps Howard News Service has identified nearly 900 U.S. children who have lost a parent in the war, from the start of the conflict in March 2003 through November, when a total of 1,256 troops had died. ”

Although comparably specific historical data is not available for other U.S. wars, military experts said the proportionally higher number of American children left bereaved by the Iraq war is unprecedented.

"This is a new state of affairs we have to confront," said Charles Moskos, a leading military sociologist and Northwestern University professor.

Overall, Americans in uniform today are far more likely to be married and have children than in the military of the past, Moskos and others said. And the reliance in Iraq on reserve forces _ who tend to be older and even more settled than active-duty soldiers _ also means more offspring at home.

Even though the federal government provides an array of benefits for widows, widowers and minor children, more help is needed _ including counseling _ for at least 882 American children left without a parent from the war in Iraq.

"As much as we are concerned about veterans' programs, we now have to be concerned about orphan programs," Moskos said. "This is the first time we have crossed this threshold.…"

http://www.shns.com/shns/warkids/
con·cept: Nearly 900 children have lost a parent in Iraq