Jed Boal ReportingThere's a groundswell of concern across the country that the American people are only getting the negative news out of Iraq, that we aren't telling you about the good work of US troops.
Some of this sentiment is spreading by e-mail. While many of the facts may miss the mark, it's something the soldiers are talking about.
Joe Christensen got a hero's welcome when he returned to his job as a loan officer. He spent a year in Iraq with the 1457th Engineer Group, working with Iraqi police securing convoys. He saw more rebuilding than destruction.
Joe Christensen, Soldier and Loan Officer: “One hundred percent, we are helping them. You've got to look at how their living conditions have been over the last 30 years versus what they're able to have hope for tomorrow."
According to the US Agency for International Development, life is improving in Iraq--kids are in school, water is better, hospitals are open.
When soldiers get home, some say the war stories they see on TV don't tell it all.
Joe Christensen: “Sometimes the stories are one-sided. They want the negative outlook to put the spin on it. The positive things the soldiers are doing get pushed off to the wayside."
One soldier with the Iowa National Guard was so upset with this imbalance he saw, he wrote an E-mail and sent it to a dozen friends who sent it to their friends. Within a month it had gone global.
Sgt. Ray Reynolds, Iowa Army National Guard: “When you come home and see a lot of the negative, it tends to swing people the opposite way. I live in peace knowing there were a lot of good things going on."
Sgt. Ray Reynolds wrote, “…the media has done a poor job...” His widely circulated email reels off numbers on clean drinking water, kids in school and democracy in progress -- stories he says the media has ignored.
However, it’s not necessarily fair criticism of the media because the numbers in the email are not completely accurate. Nevertheless, the sentiment is shared.
Major Terry Messmer with the 200th Medical Detachment worked with dozens of US units in Iraq.
Maj. Terry Messmer, 200th Medical Detachment: “Every opportunity US forces had to interact with the population and do positive things, they were seeking out those opportunities and doing very good things."
Messmer says the violence and killing should not be ignored, but neither should the rebuilding.
Regardless of your politics, he says we should be proud of the work the troops have done. The soldiers we spoke with agreed, this is not a short-term mission; it will take years to achieve the goals set out by US leadership.