A City Taking Care of its Citizen Soldiers
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For nearly a decade now American service members have been deployed in two wars. That can often make the family finances dicey. But the City of Fresno pitched in early with a plan to help families of its employees to maintain the same income while their loved one was overseas. We met up with one of those soldiers recently.
These days Fresno police officer Nick Fleishchmann is the range master at the Fresno regional training center for law enforcement. In January 2007 he was called to active duty by his reserve unit to help train afghan police. He wouldn't be home for good until late 2009. The assignment took him the rugged areas of that country. An experience that led to solid friendships, "We learned a lot from them, militarily. We left with them a lot of stuff to help them grow; the systems we used, the weapons we use."
Fleishchmann spent the better part of two years deployed in a dangerous part of the world. Back home his family worried about him but they had no worries about their finances.
Shortly after the war began the city adopted a measure to make up the difference between a service member's military pay check and the check the city would have paid them. Councilmember Larry Westerland calls it a good idea that is still in place today, "It's really our patriotic step in the direction of supporting or men and women fighting for us overseas." Westerland himself left his city council job for Navy service but his officer's pay exceeded his council pay so he did need or qualify for the assistance.
But the Fresno Police, husband and father of nine didn't have to worry about his family's needs while he was overseas, "That helped a lot, because with the military being called up, for military service leaving your family for a year, year and a half, 2 years that's probably one of the baggiest strains financially is if you're trying to deal with a lesser amount of money, trying to keep everything rollin'. So it was a big help, for a lot of people...I know that."
And in spite of the personal losses during his two tours, Fleischmann says his overall experience was positive. He's hopeful for the future of Afghanistan but very happy to be back at work here in the police department, "The city has always been supportive of the military.... before nine-eleven and after nine-eleven."
The numbers of those who have been assisted by this program in Fresno remains pretty low. City hall tells us just fourteen have applied as of January 2010.
fresno, fresno county, local, nancy osborne
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