Uncertainty of war hard for students

With spring break two weeks away, students are preparing for a vacation — some to sun and sand and others to home.

Sophomore Jeff Baldovin had to put his vacation plans on hold this weekend.

He said Friday that he would be reporting for duty March 12 in the Army National Guard at Fort Ripley, Minn., with the possibility of being sent to Turkey or Iraq, but he doesn’t know.

“The hardest part is the uncertainty,” he said. “You don’t know when or where (you’re going to go).”

On Saturday, his orders changed. Baldovin reports for duty today, again without knowing where he is headed.

Baldovin adds to the 23 UW-Eau Claire students who have already been called into action.

He said, if and when he goes, he’d be gone for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two.

Twenty-year-old Baldovin is in an engineering unit. Should he be sent overseas, he would support the infantry by making roads and airstrips.

Although he isn’t excited to fight a war, he is interested to see how all of the military branches work when they come together.

“I don’t think anyone wants to go into war,” he said.

Despite that, Baldovin will support whatever decision made by President Bush.

There is a lot of information the government is not telling people, he said.

He added that he might be bias, because he may be fighting in this potential war.

“You can’t fight for something you don’t believe in,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

As Baldovin prepares for the unknown, he is receiving support from his friends, family and the university.

This support has come in the form of e-mails and hugs from friends who are for and against the war.

“It was really honoring,” he said.

The university is helping by making his leave as easy as possible.

Due to it being early in the semester, Associate Dean of Students Mary Ryan-Miller said it is easier for students to make a clean break academically.

Students who receive orders to report for duty will receive an extended academic leave. They do not have to pay for their current courses but also will not receive credit for what they have completed thus far.

There are about 80 students who are in the guard or reserves. Ryan-Miller said she hopes the number of those called into action does not increase.

That figure, however, does not include the number of students who are affected by the absence of these soldiers.

Mandi Faber, a senior, is one of many students who have been left behind while their loved ones report for duty. Her boyfriend and UW-Eau Claire alumnus Jesse Sorkness has been in Kuwait for two weeks and a few days. He is serving with the military police in the Marine Reserves.

Sorkness graduated last December and was searching for jobs when he received his orders.

“At first he was mad,” she said, “but it was kind of expected. He knew with everything heating up he was going to have to go.”

Sorkness’s departure date was also unknown. The night he went to Kuwait, he wasn’t scheduled to leave for another week, Faber said.

Now she waits for mail and rare phone calls to stay in touch with her boyfriend.

Faber said she believes it was necessary for Sorkness and many others to be called for duty and continues to support the actions of the Bush administration. The waiting, though, is also hard.

“I almost want the war to start so they can come home sooner,” she said.

She added that she would prefer to solve the conflict peacefully.