Returned Marine Shares Iraq Experience

Returned Marine Shares Iraq Experience


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Tonya Papanikolas Reporting While the violence continues in Iraq, US military members continue to emphasize how much good they're doing in the country.

Gunnery Sgt. Julia Watson was helping to rebuild the country. She was in Iraq for six months. Though she was away from her own family during that time, she is proud that she was working to help other families.

Returned Marine Shares Iraq Experience

Two days ago, Julia Watson arrived home after spending six months in Iraq.

Gy. Sgt. Julia Watson, U.S. Marine: "It's good to be with my family, it's good to see Americans, and it's good to breath the fresh air of the United States."

When Watson's two daughters saw their mom, they ran to meet her, giving her big hugs and kisses.

Gy. Sgt. Julia Watson: "I'm gonna spend some time with my children and I'm going to tell them everything that I've been able to do for the last six months."

She has a lot to share. During her time in Iraq helping to rebuild the country, Watson specifically worked with Iraqi women.

Returned Marine Shares Iraq Experience

Gy. Sgt. Julia Watson: "Any society to obtain stability will need to involve their women as much as their men."

Watson would talk with the women at their homes or in schools to identify their needs.

Julia Watson: "Literacy is quite a big need, as well as being able to have certain skills such as sewing or nursing."

In 2004, Watson says, 70-percent of Iraqi women were illiterate. As the government helps to educate them, it also improves the country's economy.

Gty. Sgt. Julia Watson: "Educational opportunities for quite a few of the women are in high demand."

At one home, Watson noticed a woman made quilts out of rice bags. She bought one for 30 dollars; that paid for the family's food for an entire month. Watson says she tried to encourage women like this to sell their artistry.

Julia Watson: "It helps stabilize the community itself."

This marine says Iraqi moms are just like American mothers, their first priority is taking care of their families.

Julia Watson: "Quite a few wanted more opportunities for their children, more so than for themselves."

Now that she's home, Watson will be focusing on her own family, making sure her daughters know just how much she loves them.

Watson says the educational opportunities for Iraqi women will be consistent with jobs that are acceptable in their culture. Because programs run by coalition forces are often potential targets for insurgents, most of the training or vocational centers for women are run through the Iraqi Ministries or non-governmental agencies.

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