Editor’s note: The Collegian ran a story about
Jack Kuskie on April 10 about his deployment to Iraq. This is a
follow up about his return home for R&R.
Having a family member on active military duty affects even just
“It gives you a personal look at the news every night,” said
Marty Buys, whose stepson is in the Army National Guard. “And in
planning not to be out of town if he might come home.”
Buys describes his stepson, Jack Kuskie, as a “very quiet,
introspective person” who likes math and loves sports.
After two weeks leave for rest, Kuskie, a sergeant with the
220th Military Police Company in the fourth platoon of the Army
National Guard, left on Monday to return to the Middle East.
With one year remaining before he completed his degree in
mathematics at CSU, Kuskie joined the Army in 1996.
“I was getting a little frustrated with school,” Kuskie said. “I
wanted to do something that would affect the world. I think it’s
Kuskie said one reason he joined the Army National Guard was to
have more money for school. His time with the Army has been
extended due to the conflict in the Middle East.
“I signed up for six years but they extended it through this
deployment,” Kuskie said.
Kuskie’s family said he has for the most part enjoyed his time
in the military.
“I think he likes being a solider,” Buys said. “When it’s been
good places, he’s liked it. He’s gotten to see a lot of things he
wouldn’t have seen otherwise. He’s met a lot of soldiers from other
Pat Buys, Kuskie’s mother, said when her son came home two weeks
ago he was excited to share his experiences overseas.
“He has a sense of purpose and is anxious to finish his
mission,” Pat Buys said. “But at the same time, we are all worried
about his safety. We are always mindful of where he’s at and what
he’s doing. We just pray and hope for his well-being.”
Kuskie is part of a seven-person security team that is assigned
to the brigade commander, Gen. Geoghan. During his active
deployment he has spent time in Iraq and Kuwait.
“I’ve been pretty lucky,” Kuskie said. “At first we were living
in compounds, but most people in Iraq are living in tents.”
As a part of a close team, Kuskie said he has made some good
“You’re around them all the time and it’s pretty serious,”
Kuskie said. “You are kind of responsible for their lives and
they’re responsible for yours.”
Kuskie said he was reminded of the danger he was in was when he
heard alarms going off, signifying the arrival of scud
“Right when they started shooting off the scuds, these alarms
went off and we had to put on gas masks,” Kuskie said. “I remember
thinking one day, ‘How did I get involved in this?’ It kind of
sticks with you.”
Kuskie said he has thought about some of the classes he has
taken at CSU while in the Army, especially political science
“It gets your awareness up to what’s happening in the world,”
Wondering and waiting happens often for the Buys family, which
also includes Kuskie’s two sisters, Sara Buys and Kristine
“You just wonder when they’re getting out of there,” Marty Buys
said. “It becomes a very personal question to you.”
Keeping in contact with family and friends has been important to
Kuskie, though contact was sporadic at first.
“At first it was mostly letters and care packages,” Kuskie
Pat Buys said care packages sent to her son included everything
from foot inserts and baby wipes to beef jerky and newspaper clips
of the Denver Broncos.
“He has a big network of people across the country (who send
care packages),” Pat Buys said. “It’s absolutely amazing.”
Kuskie even got a package from his mother’s book group.
Janeen Bonacci, Kuskie’s girlfriend of two years, said she is
impressed with the amount of support from family and friends.
“I have kids I used to baby-sit for that send him packages,”
said Bonacci, a 2002 CSU graduate. “It’s ridiculous the amount of
packages he gets.”
The support she has gotten from family and friends has been
important in keeping the relationship going as well.
“His family and I have become very close,” Bonacci said. “You
need to have people to talk to. It seems like you put both your
lives on hold. You stay extremely busy to not think about it. I
think writing every day and telling him what’s going on has helped.
You never have a constant feeling about it.”
In Kuskie’s two weeks at home, his family took him to see the
Colorado Avalanche, the Broncos and the Denver Nuggets play. The
family also hosted a “happy hour” so Kuskie could get together with
friends, Marty Buys said.
“His mother took off a few days, I took off a few days,” Marty
Buys said. “Mostly doing stuff together.”
Thanksgiving came early this year as the family celebrated the
holiday on Sunday, though it has screwed up Marty Buys’ sense of
“I’m watching TV and wondering why they are still advertising
turkeys,” he said.
When Kuskie finally returns home for good, there will be many
people waiting for him, including his two yellow labs Mallory and
“They keep going to the window to look for him,” Pat Buys said.
“Day and night they look for him, thinking he’s going to be