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thedrifter
10-07-07, 12:19 PM
Posted October 7, 2007

Tony Walter column: Some war wounds aren't visible
Green Bay Press-Gazette

Two days from now, Adam Zimdars will get on a plane and fly to California. Some time after that, he'll find out whether he's going back to war. He doesn't want to go to Iraq.


"Who would?" he said.


Sitting in a booth at McDonald's in west De Pere this week, Zimdars recited the possibilities that await him.


"They could decide that I'm not capable of going back and send me home," he said. "They could keep me in California. Or they could send me to Iraq."


Zimdars is a 24-year-old man, divorced, with two daughters. He has been deployed to Iraq twice and still has 18 months left on his military obligation to the U.S. Marine Corps.


He also has paperwork that confirms he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His is a story about war's impact, about wounds that are not visible.


Zimdars enlisted in the Marine Corps a couple months before he graduated from West De Pere High School in 2001. He signed up for four years on active duty, then four more inactive. He spent a year-and-a-half in Iraq as part of a motor transport unit, hauling fuel and weapons.


"The first time in Iraq I felt safer, but the living conditions were terrible," he said. "The second time over there it was a lot more dangerous, but the living conditions were better."


It was in that second tour of duty that Zimdars was stationed in Fallujah. It was also when he and his fellow Marines were subjected to regular mortar attacks. Zimdars received a combat action ribbon.


He came home in December 2005 and returned to his job at a supermarket warehouse. But the stress remained. Every time he heard a plane fly overhead or a car backfire, the memories of those mortar attacks revisited. Zimdars began to undergo counseling through Family Services.


In January, he was notified that he would be recalled to active duty, with Iraq the likely destination.


Zimdars was sent to Kansas City for physical and psychological evaluation, but the orders came that he has to report Tuesday to Camp Pendleton, Calif.


"I'm not afraid to go" to Iraq, he said. "The biggest thing is leaving my family, especially my two daughters. I know I don't have a choice in the matter. The orders say I'm being extended for one year, but they can always extend me further."


Zimdars doesn't talk about the politics of war. He knows he signed up for eight years, and he knows it's his duty to fulfill his obligation.


Still, there is frustration and the feeling that he is already a casualty of war.


"I keep seeing on the news that they're pulling people out of Iraq," he said. "So why are they recalling people?"


Zimdars sought assistance from elected officials, but that didn't help. He is ready to fly to California.


"I'm out of options," he said.

Tony Walter is a columnist for the Press-Gazette. He can be reached at (920) 431-8360.

Ellie