AWOL Soldier's Parents: Supporting the Troops Means Stopping the War
This poor family hasn't heard from their son in six months, so they've set up a website and a blog expressing their support in case he decides to make online contact. Their other son is leaving for Iraq in two weeks.
Lance Hering's parents gave their first television interview since learning their son disappeare to avoid returning to duty as a Marine in Iraq. It's been about six months since Lance Cpl. Lance Hering ran away.
His parents chased one lead that turned up empty, but in the meantime Lance's disappearance has triggered a response inside of them.
The Hering's claim they have not had any contact with their son. They've tried to get back a normal routine, but there's son's decision to run has changed them. It's provoked a passion inside of them they could not have predicted.
"We emotionally mail Lance love a million times a day," Lloyd Hering, Lance's father, said.
The Hering's hold onto hope, that their son is somewhere safe.
"No, no we have heard absolutely nothing since the moment that he left," the father said.
The Boulder County Sheriff has warrants for Lance's arrest. The Marines consider him Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL).
Six months ago, a massive search effort ensued. Lance enlisted a friend to help stage his disappearance in Eldorado Canyon to avoid returning to duty as a Marine. Surveillance video from a local bus station showed Lance purchasing a ticket. His parents have seen the video, and recall very different reactions.
"The first thing I thought was yeah, my son's alive, yeah you're alive, Lance," Lloyd said.
"I saw a sad lonely son going somewhere away, with nothing, with nothing," Ellyne Hering, Lance's mother, said.
A lead led Lloyd to a small town in Iowa. Strangers there remembered his son.
"He bought some clothes in a department store," Lloyd said. "Bought some food in a couple of convenient stores, and stayed warm one cold morning in the library, and kept very much to himself."
The last report he got was of Lance walking on a road out of town. His disappearance weighs heavy on the Herings.
"I started to think about, of course, post-traumatic stress," Ellyne said.
"We didn't have any warning of it, and I don't know if he had any warning of it," Lloyd said. "He was still thinking and talking like a career Marine when we went to visit his grandmother the night before he disappeared."
Lance's decision to run lit a fire inside his parents. They started talking about the war. Lloyd said he and Ellyne realized that supporting the troops meant stopping the war.
Lloyd and Ellyne have traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to urge Congress to stop funding the war. Ellyne writes postcards as part of a nationwide campaign to stop special appropriations for Iraq.
This is all very personal for the Herings.
"Not everyone knows that our other son, Brendan, of whom we are also very proud of, is an officer in the U.S. Air Force," Lloyd said. "And in about two weeks, he's going to deploy to Iraq."
Iraq changed one son, and triggered a passionate voice inside each of them. Lance's parents hope one day their son will decide it's time to come home.
"He has to come home when he's strong enough to be able to face it all," Ellyne said.
"We're here to help him whenever he decides to come back," Lloyd said. "He'll get legal help, financial help, counseling help, and all the love that we can provide anytime he comes back."
This coming week Colorado's Congressional delegates will be home on recess. Lloyd and Ellyne hope to meet with some of them to talk about stopping to fund the war.
At this point Ed Perlmutter, John Salazar and Mark Udall basically said they're waiting on the bill's wording before making up their mind.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is something hundreds of military men and women are dealing with once returning from Iraq.