Thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve troops are frustrated that they will not be able to deploy in support of operations associated with the "War on Christmas," according to military officials.
The National Guard Bureau and the United States Army Reserve Command have both been inundated by questions about upcoming deployments.
Many reservists (which include Guardsmen) relied on lucrative deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan for their livelihood. With deployments to Afghanistan slowing to a trickle and a large mobilization to Iraq unlikely, these soldiers are facing the prospect of real jobs in the civilian sector.
"We have systems in place for individual Guard members to volunteer for overseas and stateside Title 10 deployments," said Lt. Col. Tiara Coley. "But we've been swamped with calls and online requests for information about deployments in the War on Christmas," she said.
Title 10 refers to the section of the U.S. Code that puts reservists in active-duty status.
Coley said she is "a little confused" about why Guard members think they can serve in the war.
Sgt. Travis Winston, a combat engineer with the Colorado Army National Guard, said he was disappointed to learn the "War on Christmas" wasn't a real war.
"My first sergeant told me to check it out, but when I started making calls, I was told that the war was metaphorical. Must be some new type of warfare that doesn't require boots on ground," Winston said.
Winston was hoping for a deployment, mostly for the money.
"With seven years in, I could stash away like $5000 a month," he said. But if they don't let me go, I guess I'll just get a seasonal position at Costco. "Plus I really like Christmas, and I don't think we should let the terrorists take it away."
Winston is not alone. Operations officers at the National Guard Bureau say that in the past three weeks they have received over 6,000 requests for information about how to sign on for the War on Christmas. At the Reserve Command, officials didn't give a precise number, but confirmed "an unusual interest" in an operation that doesn't even exist.
"We haven't received any mobilization orders from FORSCOM (U.S. Army Forces Command) for such an operation," Coley said. "I think these soldiers are watching too much Fox News."
But Coley didn't entirely rule out a future mobilization. "If the chiefs or the president issue the order, we'll be ready," Coley said. "If there is a war that America can get behind, our soldiers will be ready to fight it."