Most Members of Congress are talking about war. Some have even fought themselves. But just a few know the anxiety of having a child fighting or waiting for deployment.
“I worry about my son every day,” said Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), whose 31-year-old son, Army Sgt. Brooks Johnson, is stationed in Kuwait. “My wife and I have him constantly in our thoughts. I pray for his safety and the safety of all of our military personnel.”
Although no one is exactly sure how many Members have sons or daughters in the military, Johnson appears to be the only Member with a child on the front line. Several others have children on active duty or in the reserves, and last week Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) became the first Member reservist to be called up to active duty.
Although Johnson voted for the October resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq, he said he is disappointed that a broad consensus with the United Nations was not secured.
“It was my hope that we would have a global response to Iraq’s violations,” the Senator said. “But, now, we are at war and I think we need to focus on support for our troops and support of families.”
Johnson and his wife have received several e-mails from Brooks, a sergeant in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division stationed at Camp New Jersey in Kuwait. The Senator and his wife also saw their son on television last week when CBS and ABC both aired news segments about Brooks.
This isn’t the first time Johnson’s son has been called to war. The Iraqi conflict marks his fourth war in five years, as he has previously served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Several other Members have sons who could be deployed or called up at any moment to fight in the war, making them all the more anxious to finish the job as quickly as possible.
Rep. Ed Schrock’s (R-Va.) 26-year-old son, Randy Schrock, is a Navy reservist, who has not yet been activated. A Schrock spokesman said the Congressman, a former Navy captain who served in Vietnam, says casting a vote to authorize the president to use force is never easy, as he understands what it’s like to be at war.
Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) oldest son, Alan, 29, is a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard. Another son, Addison, 24, is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who is now an ensign attending Uniform Services Medical School, while another son, Julian, 22, is a cadet in the Army ROTC at Clemson University.
Although Alan Wilson has not yet been called up for service, it is likely that he could go to war. The Congressmen, who talked with his son last Tuesday, said he would be honored for him to serve.
“He is prepared and I know our troops are prepared,” Wilson said, adding that parts of his son’s unit have already been mobilized. “With my knowledge of what has been provided to my children, I know that our military is the best motivated in the world.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-Calif.) son, Duncan Duane, 26, serves as a lieutenant in the Marines. He is stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
Rep. John Kline’s (R-Minn.) son, John Daniel Kline, 32, is a captain the Army on active duty right now. He is stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. He hasn’t been deployed overseas yet, but that is a possibility, according to a Kline spokeswoman.
Also, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) has a cadet son at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Cadets are considered on active duty, an Akin spokesman said.
All of the Congressmen voted for use of force in Iraq, except Kline, who did not take office until this Congress.