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Jed Boal ReportingAs rebuilding efforts continue in Iraq some American soldiers are getting a chance to visit home briefly. One Utah officer on leave talked with some school kids today and tried to paint a picture of his mission.
Students at Jordan Hills Elementary School may feel a little luckier about their lives this evening after learning about the struggles of Iraqi families.
Lt. Col. Anthony "Tony" Healy, 354th Civil Affairs Brigade: “They are so happy to see us there. All of a sudden the men have freedom."
Lt.Col. Tony Healy is a 22-year Army veteran assigned to Baghdad. In January he planned to retire in Utah so he and his wife bought a home here. The next day he was ordered to Iraq. His civil affairs unit is a liaison between the interim government and the US military.
Healy told the students as soon as they arrived in the shattered city in April they addressed the Iraqi's top concern
Lt. Col. Anthony "Tony" Healy: “Security...they wanted to feel safe for the first time in their life."
His unit rebuilt 900 schools, worked to restore electrical and sewage systems, and reopened hospitals. Despite attacks on American soldiers Healy says security continues to improve. Healy says the majority of Iraqis believe life is getting better, and American soldiers are satisfied with their work.
Lt. Col. Anthony "Tony" Healy: "All the soldiers I talk to are proud to be part of history over there. And of course the all want to come home. So do I."
Healy says it will take time, but it's important work for the future of both countries. Healy is on leave for two weeks. As for his retirement, that's on indefinite hold.