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One widow's drive to end the war

Iraq war protestor Birgitt Eysselinck



Birgitt Eysselinck's husband left Iraq in 2004 after trying to dismantle part of Saddam Hussein's cluster-bomb collection. A defense contractor who worked for the RONCO Consulting Corporation, Tim Eysselinck wanted to be in Namibia for his 40th birthday so he could see his wife and daughter.

He was scheduled to be at his African home away from home for a three-month leave of absence.

Two months into his leave, he shot and killed himself.

"He was exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress disorder," said Birgitt Eysselinck, a native of Namibia who met her husband when he helped de-mine the Ethiopia-Eritrea border in the late 1990s.

A former Army captain, he went to Iraq in August of 2003 and stayed more than a year, supervising the collection and disarmament of Iraqi ordinance and also American bombs that had been dropped in the invasion. According to his wife, Tim Eysselinck came back extremely paranoid and with a hair-trigger temper over the smallest things.

"When he came home, he went on a hunting trip," she says. "He shot an animal and wounded that animal. Obviously, that bothered him. ... It was the wounding of that animal that took him back to Iraq."

She calls her husband one of the uncounted victims of this war.

A member of Cobb for Peace, Birgitt Eysselinck now lives in Georgia with the couple's daughter. She joined other Iraq war protestors last Friday and kicked off a weeklong series of statewide protests and vigils coordinated by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition that will culminate with a march on Washington this weekend.

Standing on a street corner in downtown Marietta, Eysselinck encountered a pedestrian in suit and tie whose eyes drifted skeptically across the row of lofted signs and protestors. Stopped at the crosswalk, he was standing closest to Eysselinck and the two started talking about U.S. policy in Iraq.

"If we pull people out right now, it's going to go into further civil war," said the pedestrian, Rob Schnatmeir.

He conceded that he initially supported the war. "They had a terrible plan, it's true," Schnatmeir said, "but now that we're there we can't pull out. I just hope and pray the Iraqi government can stabilize itself or it will go into chaos."

"The whole thing is about oil," Eysselinck told him.

"That's not true," Schnatmeir said. "We went in because ... well, I really don't know why. I hope it wasn't for oil."

The light changed and he stepped into the crosswalk, and left Eysselinck on the curb with the protestors, where she hoisted her sign with two pictures of her husband: one where he crouched over a bomb in Iraq, and another where he held their daughter.

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