Soldiers in Iraq fear change in status means change in compensation

10:24 PM, Aug 25, 2010   |    comments
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Army Specialist Mario Ybarra.

By Ann Rubin

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- Dozens were killed, hundreds injured in Iraq Wednesday; it appeared to be a coordinated attack, with more than a dozen bombings in as many Iraqi towns. This comes just days after the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq. There will be 50,000 soldiers left behind, like Army Specialist Mario Ybarra.

As a member of the 25th infantry division, his role has changed from 'combat' to an 'advise and assist' capacity. And he says with the title change comes something else.

"The military has decided to take away part of my combat or my hazardous duty pay," Ybarra said. "It's pretty much spread like wildfire once this happened and everyone's saying pretty much the exact same thing it's not right, it's not fair. We still face danger every single day."

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are looking into the matter. In Illinois, a spokesman from Congressman John Shimkus's office said they have inquired to see if any changes have been made.

In Missouri, NewsChannel 5 caught up with Congressman Russ Carnahan.

"The bottom line is they're in a dangerous part of the world, but we've got to continue to do everything we can to be sure they get that support," Carnahan said.

His family just hopes that those remaining in Iraq will continue to get the respect and the compensation they deserve.

"He still has to carry his gun. Have his body armor on. Nothing's changed," said Gloria Ybarra, Mario's mother.

Spc. Ybarra adds, "Nothing has changed at all. Other than that they changed the name. And I don't really understand it and we're really not getting an explanation as to why."



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