The Iowa National Guard begins a series of town hall meetings tonight on the upcoming deployment of some 3,100 guard members to Afghanistan. Guard spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Greg Happgood, says they want to provide information and answer questions from the soldier’s families, their communities and the general public about the deployment.
Hapgood says the deployment has a “profound impact” across the state, whether it’s in the communities, whether its with employers, the way cities operate if guardmembers work for them or on the city council. “It really could have some far-reaching affects,” Hapgood says. Hapgood says this will be the largest deployment since World War Two, and says the Iowa Guard’s job is to inform everyone to the greatest degree possible so they can figure out how to mitigate any issues in the year that the guard members will be gone.
Hapgood says each group has different questions about how the deployment will impact them. Hapgood says communities want to know how to help support families of soldiers, companies want to know the timeline of mobilization for planning, and there are other community questions about filling the voids left in the absence of the guard members. Hapgood says they will try to address as many issues as possible.
Hapgood says there will affects across the state from the deployment that they can’t anticipate. He says some things they know, like the need to get help from other states in emergencies. Hapgood says they want to open up the communication lines now and try to address any issues they can now.
Each meeting begins at 6:30 with a public session, and then soldiers and their families will meet with the group’s leadership team in private. The first meeting is tonight at the Sioux City East Middle School auditorium.
The other meetings are Thursday (4/8)at Iowa Western Community College, Looft Hall Auditorium, Council Bluffs; April 13th at the Fort Dodge America’s Best Value Inn, Ball Room; April 27th in Waterloo at the Five Sullivan Brothers convention center; April 29th at the Des Moines Area Community College, Building 6 Auditorium in Ankeny; May 4th at Coe College’s Terry Auditorium in Cedar Rapids; and May 6th at the St. Ambrose, Galvin Fine Arts building in Davenport.