Hundreds of soldiers returned to Fort Hood this week after more than a year in Iraq, and while they fully expect to return to battle next year as part of the ongoing rotations of a long and difficult war, some of their famlies are content to keep the troops deployed.
It is not easy for their loved ones at home, so some might assume that bringing all of the troops home from Iraq, quickly and for good, would be a great relief to those families.
But that is not how many of them see it.
"I don't think it would be in our best interest to pull out right now," said Lynn James whose husband Randy is in his second deployment to Iraq.
He's overseas along with the husbands of many of her friends, who all worry about the consequences of giving up on the fight. Among them is Dawn Dial, who misses her husband Ethan terribly, but is certain he wants to see the mission through.
"I know all of us want our husbands home and everybody else who has family members over there, but I do think we need to stay until it's done," Dial said.
"If you pull them out, you're just going to have to go back again and you'll basically be starting all over again," agreed Anna Marie Garcia, a young military wife whose husband deployed to Iraq in October.
James acknowledged that many Americans have lost patience with the war and don't understand her resolve, especially in the face of escalating violence in Iraq. But she is convinced, based on her husband's reports from Baghdad, that there is hope which she is holding dearly.
"Every day, when I say my prayers for the safety of my husband and our troops, I say a prayer for the Iraqi people, because that's the only way we'll be able to pull out is when they can stand on their own," James said.
Too Dangerous Not to Stay
Bridgit Lawson says her conviction that her husband Darren and his fellow troops need to stay in Iraq for now is grounded in a clear understanding of the risks. "My husband says it's very obvious that it's a war zone; he can tell that there's danger there," she said.
But they both believe that if the troops leave Iraq too soon, it will send a dangerous signal to terrorists worldwide. "That's going to be seen as a retreat, that we're weak, that we're not able to defend ourselves. And so they're going to come at us," Lawson said.
And the stakes, she's certain, would be huge. "If we pull out now and don't have that armor there, where will the next 9-11 be?," she asked.
Robin Devito, a friend and fellow military wife, shares her concern. "It could well happen again. I think if we weren't there doing what we're doing, it could happen a lot sooner," she said.
As Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil commands soldiers in Baghdad with Fort Hood's First Cavalry Division, his wife is at home where public sentiment has come to question the wisdom of the U.S. commitment in Iraq. She just hopes Americans don't question the determination of the soldiers on the ground.
"They see something there. They see something positive and hopeful," Fil said. "Whatever it is that they see, they're willing to go back again and fight for it again."
She said she's amazed at what we ask of soldiers by sending them into battle, and hopes Americans can recognize what motivates the troops to remain in Iraq.
"Despite what's going on politically, soldiers just want to know that the American public supports them, as soldiers," she added. "We love them and want them to come home, but we want them to come home with honor and having a sense of accomplishment. Not feeling as if all they had done was in vain."