Thousands Of Reserves To Serve Longer Tours

In October, 2001, members of the 255th Air Control Squadron left Gulfport for a mission in Texas. Mississippi National Guardsman Curtis Bounds was among the troops who had to leave loved ones behind in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

Bounds said "I feel a sense of duty to my country, and I don't want to be sitting at home when something goes on, and I'm needed".

Eleven months later, Bounds is still on active duty in support of Homeland Defense at the Air National Guard Base in Gulfport. Bounds says when he signed up, he expected to serve up to six years.

Bounds said "Of course, with the acts on September 11th, I knew when we declared War on Terrorism, that it would an ongoing thing. Flexibility is important when you're in the military. So I train in the Guard to do my job and at the same time, I train my family at home to get along without me".

Other guardsmen say they're used to missions lasting longer than six months, so they're not surprised with the Pentagon's decision to keep some troops on active duty an extra year.

Joe Piggott said "I fully support the president and Secretary Rumsfeld and any decisions they make. Because of my sense of duty to my country, I'm prepared to do what it takes".

Olivia McDonald said "I'm ready for it, so it doesn't bother me at all. This does me good, because it's allowing me to further enhance my military career and training".

These guardsmen understand the longer mission will put a strain on their families, but it's a sacrifice they're willing to make. Bounds said "I'll be glad when it's over, but you do what you have to do".

The extended mission could also create problems for many businesses. Most reservists and Guardsmen are part-time soldiers who hold full-time jobs. When they're mobilized, businesses lose those employees temporarily. Some companies even supplement the salaries of employees who are deployed.