Gov. Bill Haslam joined three other governors on a trip to Iraq and Kuwait this week to visit U.S. soldiers, calling it “a really eye-opening experience.”
“I’m actually really impressed with how folks are hanging in there,” Haslam told reporters in a telephone call Tuesday. “Most Tennessee troops have been over here since last winter or spring. Most are going to be here until about the end of the year. That’s a long time to be away from home. It’s a long time to be in a dangerous situation.
“I asked all of them, ‘Tell me what you miss the most,’ and every one of them really, really misses being home. I also asked, ‘Are you glad you’re doing it?’ And they all say ‘yes.’”
Haslam left Monday with the governors of Kentucky, Utah and Nevada on the Pentagon-funded trip. He said it was 130 degrees in Baghdad Tuesday.
“The working conditions are incredibly hard. The work they are doing is dangerous — not as dangerous as it was but still dangerous.”
Haslam said, “As the head of the Tennessee National Guard, we have a lot of soldiers over here, and it helps to understand what they are doing. Hopefully, it’s encouraging to them to have folks come visit them. We’ve had a lot of great meetings and conversations with folks already. It helps me to understand the scope of what we have been doing over here and what we still are doing.”