Students support family members in Iraq

For junior Andrew Breza, supporting the troops in Iraq isn’t just about sending cards to anonymous faces overseas or raising money for the soldiers, although he does do all of those things. Breza supports the troops overseas by sending comfort to his cousin, a commanding officer in Iraq.

On Sunday, Breza, a member of GW’s College Republicans, walked side by side with 103 other GW students in the annual America Supports You Freedom Walk to commemorate the attacks on Sept. 11 and support the troops abroad. But for Breza, the walk meant more than just a lap around the Lincoln Memorial over to the Pentagon.

“It’s a real treat. It’s hard to explain, but it’s more than just a walk,” Breza said. “Plus you get to talk to people who feel the same way.”

Breza has also found other ways to support his cousin, who aspires to become a professor at West Point. Breza makes sure he keeps in touch with his cousin’s wife, fundraises at home for the troops, votes and continues to stay in contact with soldiers overseas.

Three months ago, Breza’s commitment to the troops abroad was strengthened when someone he went to high school with was killed in Iraq. It’s really hard to hear stories like that and not stay involved, he said.

Most of Breza’s friends have “different political persuasions,” he said, but even his most liberal, anti-war friends want to help him send care packages overseas to support the troops.

Breza worries about pulling the U.S. soldiers out of Iraq too quickly.

“If we leave now, then what’s the point of everyone who served and died?” he asked.

Although CR Chairman Peter Glessing doesn’t have any family deployed in Iraq, supporting the troops and participating in the Freedom Walk is something the GW senior said he still finds important.

“We believe that it is important for students to participate in this event as it serves to remind us of the sacrifice endured by the men and women in the military who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms,” Glessing said.

Glessing said the CRs have participated in the Freedom Walk for the past two years. Also participating alongside the CRs is GW’s Students Defending Democracy and the Young America’s Foundation. The 103 GW students who signed up this year is the University’s best turnout yet, Glessing said.

“In the past, we have had 20 to 30 students from GW participate. However, we strongly advertised for the event this year,” Glessing said.

President of GW’s Young America’s Foundation, Sergio Gorokhovsky, said the Freedom Walk is an important way for students to show their solidarity with the U.S. troops.

Like Glessing, Gorokhovsky also doesn’t have any family members abroad, but he was friendly with former CR Chairman Gary Livacari, who enlisted in boot camp after graduating. The former GW student just finished his training in Oklahoma this week, Gorokhovsky said.

“It’s one thing to have a bumper sticker on your car,” said Gorokhovsky. “This is something totally different.”

Leah Carliner contributed to this report.

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