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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Reservists' Families Hit Hard Financially

Aired May 14, 2003 - 20:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now that combat has subsided in Iraq, many of the reservists called out for the conflict will be returning to their civilian lives. That's the way it should be, right? Well, they may discover their family finances have changed, and not for the better. As Brian Cabell reports, reservists and their families have contributed to the war effort with personal financial sacrifices.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN POIRER, GUARDSMAN'S WIFE: Come on, Zack (ph), babe.

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Susan Poirer's life has changed radically over the last few months. She still has her two children with her, 7-year-old Zack (ph) and 2-year-old Evan (ph).

S. POIRER: So did you have a good day, baby?

CABELL: But dad's gone. He's now based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, about an hour away. Lieutenant Rick Poirer, a computer programmer in civilian life, was activated by the National Guard in February. Overnight the Poirer family income was cut in half.

S. POIRER: Yes, I'm accustomed to a certain lifestyle, but if this is what I have to do for him, for my country, then that's fine. I mean, you do what you have to do. You cut your corners and you make it work.

CABELL: She's made it work by going back to work, part-time. Also by moving from a house to an apartment. No more cable TV. The kids watch movies instead. The food bill's been cut drastically. And though the Poirers were reluctant to ask for help, they've gotten it from their church, which has also aided three other similar families.

JOAN GREGORY, WOODMONT HILLS CHURCH OF CHRIST: They are people with dignity and with pride, and have always taken care of themselves, and suddenly found themselves in a situation that they don't have a control over.

CABELL: Yes, Evan (ph) gives thanks for her underpants, among other things. The children as well as the parents, Susan says, have adjusted well to their new financial situation.

LT. RICK POIRER, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: Just about everything's on hold right now. CABELL (on camera): But no regrets?

R. POIRER: No. None. I wouldn't change a thing if I had to.

CABELL (voice-over): In Congress, there's a move afoot to help families like the Poirers, who suffer financially when the breadwinner is activated by the military.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: If we're going to ask them to do that, then by golly we ought to compensate them when we're calling them up on a much more regular basis in the last 10 years than we ever have in the history of the United States of America.

CABELL: Susan Poirer's not sure she agrees. Her husband, she says, joined the Guard because he's a patriot. Look at their apartment. Red, white and blue everywhere. Her family, she says, will gladly take the financial hit now. There's plenty of time to make up for it later.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Brentwood, Tennessee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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