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Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood, currently is training at Fort Riley, Kan., with his National Guard unit.

State representative from Crestwood now training for deployment to Iraq

Editor's note: Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood, is being deployed to serve in Iraq for a year and graciously has offered to write articles for the Call about his experiences.

Leaving your family and friends is never an easy task.

Thousands of Missouri National Guard members have faced this fact over the last two years to support "Operation Iraqi Freedom.'' Finally, my time to serve came as a member of the 1140th Engineering Battalion. I am no different than any other National Guard member who holds a job and then has to leave his job and family to serve our country.

The only thing that makes me different is that I am also a state representative serving Crestwood, Sunset Hills, Grantwood Village and Fenton.

I am not the first elected official to get called up for active duty. As a matter of fact, Jon Dolan, a state senator, and Matt Blunt, the secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor, both have been called up for active duty during the last two years. There are also three other state legislators from across the country who are serving in Iraq. Like me, these citizen-soldiers are serving both their country and their constituents to some degree.

The hardest part of leaving for Iraq is actually leaving. I currently am at Fort Riley, Kan., with the rest of my unit. We are training here and we all actually have to pass certain tests before they will let our unit leave for Iraq.

I can speak for most of my unit when I say that "we will all be happy to leave here and get on the road to Iraq.''

Our training days usually start no later than five in the morning and end sometime after 10 at night. I cannot get into the specifics of what we are doing when training.

However, I can tell you that everything we are doing is preparing us for our future mission.

Although I am far from home, I still have things to remind me of home. I ran into a good friend and former co-worker of mine here at Fort Riley. My friend Pat Triplett is a teacher and high school basketball coach with the Bayless School District.

Pat has been here for the past year and his unit is here to help process people like me through the deployment process. I found out he also has been promoted to master sergeant.

I plan on writing articles exclusively for the Call newspapers on a regular basis. I plan on telling you about my experiences over in Iraq and will send some "real'' stories back home with pictures.

If you would be interested in receiving more information and different pictures, I will send out a weekly update.

Please feel free to contact me at to be added to my e-mail updates.

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