Students will stay in Iraq for a year, could stretch to 24 months

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

This spring, 142 SDSU students who are a part of the National Guard were deployed to Iraq and Kuwait to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While many have come back to SDSU, many remain and will remain in Iraq until April or May of 2004. Some may have to stay until April or May of 2005.

At one point, it was thought that National Guard members might be able to come home a bit earlier if the peace was secured. Since the situation on the ground in Iraq is still tenuous, these National Guard members will be spending the year overseas.

“Some of the family members I know have said that they kind of expected that,” said Major Fay Ludens with the South Dakota National Guard. “I think the soldiers … expected that as well.”

Ludens said that family members and friends of soldiers should expect them to spend one year “boots on the ground.”

“They are part of the unit and I know they want to complete their mission,” Ludens said.

SDSU officials have worked to help those who have come home already to integrate back into the SDSU community.

According to Marysz Rames, the dean of student affairs, those who have returned have been allowed to return to college without re-applying. In addition, those who wanted to spend time with their families have been allowed to start a week late.

SDSU has helped these students by setting up housing, starting meal plans and occasionally reserving books.

“Walking in without everything ready for you can be hard,” Rames said.

While the school does not know exactly how many soldiers have returned at this point, it says it will continue to help them as they return to the United States and SDSU.