Newsbrief: Iowa Guardsmen Home from Iraq Face Drug Discipline 3/5/04

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The Iowa National Guard sent 21 soldiers to Iraq despite positive drug tests that normally would have kept them home. Now, after they survived months of service in the war zone, the Guard wants to throw them out with dishonorable discharges, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Register unearthed a memo from Iowa National Guard judge advocate general Lt. Col. Michael Kuehn notifying commanders that positive drug test results would be "held in suspense" until soldiers arrive back from Iraq, when the Guard will begin steps to discharge them "other than honorably" in every case. "Regardless of whether they come back a war hero, served admirably or were a dirtball, they'll be processed for separation," said Kuehn.

Of the 2,158 Iowa Guardsman called up through last April, 37 tested positive for drugs, but the results were not known before the soldiers left the state. Sixteen soldiers were not mobilized because their tests came back positive, the Register reported. The Iowa troops in Iraq are assigned to medical treatment units and the supply convoys that have been the target of frequent attacks by Iraqi insurgents.

One Iowa Guard official told the Register he hoped commanders would take troops' battlefield service into account. "They have made sacrifices. They've performed their mission over there in an outstanding manner," said Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, the Iowa Guard's adjutant general. "I would hope that their commanders take that into consideration."

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