Huckabee Says His Request for More Leave for Arkansas Soldiers Denied

APRIL 15, 2005 - Posted at 7:45 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Huckabee says the Pentagon won't give soldiers of Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade additional leave time to help with their transition to civilian life.  The 4,200 soldiers have recently returned from Iraq, and Huckabee and members of the state's congressional delegation asked the Army to provide extra leave.

The governor said the decision by the Pentagon will be appealed to the secretary of defense, or even the president.

Huckabee wrote to Army Secretary Francis Harvey on March 22 asking for 15 additional leave days to help the brigade "deal with a host of logistical and emotional issues as they arrive home."

Captain Kristine Munn said soldiers of the 39th were given a week's leave during training at Fort Hood, Texas, in late 2003, another week because of logistical problems that delayed their departure for Iraq from Fort Polk, Louisiana.  The soldiers got two weeks while they were in Iraq.  The week's leave while they were stationed at Fort Polk wasn't required but Munn says many in the 39th took the chance to spend time with family before going into combat.

Huckabee said the Army should take responsibility for the logistical foul-up that resulted in that week-long break.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)