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State Rep. Brown must report to Iraq

Jason Brown

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

The call to serve his country has come once again for State Rep. Jason Brown of Platte City.

Brown, a member of the United States Army Reserves, told The Landmark on Wednesday morning that he has been called to fulfill a one year tour of duty in Iraq. He will leave next Thursday, March 2 for Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he will receive pre-deployment and specialized training.

From a political point of view, the call didn't exactly come at the best time for the 30th District state representative, as Brown is up for reelection later this year. His state office and his reelection campaign will have to be run while he is performing his military duties in Iraq.

But Brown says the political impact is not his first concern.

"My immediate thoughts are about my wife and kids, having to separate from them," he said.

Brown emphasized he will file for reelection prior to leaving. Filing for state office opens next Tuesday.

"I'm going to serve my country and come back and continue to serve the 30th District," he remarked.

Brown is currently completing his second term as state representative. He has an announced Democratic opponent, Jared Welch of Platte City, ready to challenge him in November's general election.

Notification of his call to duty came via e-mail, followed by a hard copy notification in the mail, Brown said. After getting the word, he and his family have spent private time absorbing the impact of the situation and preparing for his departure in a variety of ways.

"My wife is obviously worried about a whole bunch of things right now. We have a long checklist of things we need to do before I leave," he explained.

He said he and his wife are doing their best to explain the situation to their two young children, Alayna, 7, and Caleb, 4.

"I have my faith and my discipline and will do the right thing. I plan to do my job and come home," Brown told The Landmark.

"It's necessary for our country. There have been a lot of people that have gone before me and it's part of living in America. The price of freedom is not free.”

Brown will serve as a civil affairs soldier. He will serve as a liaison and work with the host nation, United Nations organizations, and other types of non-governmental organizations.

"I'll work a lot on roads, water lines, sewer lines, electricity, hospitals, helping establish a government, working with local elected officials," he explained. It will be the type of work with which Brown is extremely familiar, having formerly served as public works director for the City of Platte City.

Brown, 35, said it's unclear where exactly in Iraq he'll be working.

"I have no idea if it will be in a more dangerous part of the country. You never know. We may not find out until we get to Iraq.”

Much will be learned in the pre-deployment time to be spent at Fort Bragg.

"Once I get to Fort Bragg I'll get a better idea of when we go. We could be there (Fort Bragg) from 10 days to three or four weeks before going to Iraq," he said.

As far as keeping in touch while he's away, Brown says he'll be helped tremendously by today's technology. He anticipates having Internet access that will allow him to stay in touch with his family and with his state office.

"I sat down with my legislative assistant. We're putting things in place," for the communication link to allow his office to run as smoothly as possible in his absence, he explained.

Brown's office in Jefferson City will remain open during his deployment to address all constituent needs and questions, he said. Lisa Machon, legislative assistant, will manage the office.

"This tour of duty presents unique challenges I didn't face last time I served overseas, but I am ready for these challenges," he explained.

In 2000, Brown was called to active duty and was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Sometime during his one year tour, Brown anticipates a two week leave of absence that will allow him the opportunity to come back home to get caught up with family and his elected responsibilities. But he has no idea when that two weeks may come.

"I'll be a team sergeant and will probably have lower rank and younger soldiers that I'll be responsible for. I'll try to help my younger soldiers get the time off they desire before worrying about which two weeks I'll take. Everybody will get their two weeks. We'll coordinate that when we get there," he stated.

He says he's ready to face the challenges head-on.

"Everybody can see that our country is currently involved in a war on terror. This is a long conflict that our nation has to win and all kinds of folks are doing their duty and coming home. Many people—teachers, police officers, and even elected officials—are serving America. I'm honored to be among them," he said Wednesday.


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