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TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Wartime costs are high for soldiers and families

It was a short article, not one designed for blazing headlines. But it was a powerful reminder that soldiers sacrifice more than life and limb.

A humane shelter in Hinesville, Ga., located near Fort Stewart, has taken in 321 abandoned dogs and cats since troops left the area for Iraq in January. The shelter has euthanized 119.

We are right to focus most on the greatest sacrifices made by soldiers and their families, the sacrifice of life and health. But those of us waiting comfortably in our U.S. homes would do well to look around at the many little costs of serving our nation in war.

Cats and dogs, of course. Where do they go when military families must relocate, and how do the children find out?

Nonmilitary spouses have to handle alone what is difficult for two parents. Getting children to and from school, staying home when a child is sick. Don't forget groceries and soccer practice. Fix dinner and mow the lawn, take out the garbage. Maintain contact with the soldier's family. Get to the bank before it closes and explain to teachers why the suddenly one-parent child is misbehaving at school.

And, of course, the greatest chore:

Trying desperately to pretend that all is well. Watching news reports late into sleepless nights, praying that today's casualties did not include a loved one. Meeting friends who are afraid to ask. Terror with every knock on the door that a chaplain stands outside.

Even when they avoid the greatest cost, those who serve our country pay dearly. Sometimes we need a puppy in a humane shelter to remind us.

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