WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Obama announced his timetable to draw down U.S. servicemembers from Afghanistan – saying America's mission there should be complete by 2014.
Approximately 3,500 soldiers from Schofield's 25th Infantry Division, third brigade, are currently serving in Afghanistan. They're scheduled to be there until spring 2012. In addition, 1,800 Marines and sailors from Kaneohe are serving there, and they're due to come back between October and December of this year
Those homecomings can't come soon enough for local companies doing business around Hawaii's military bases. Between missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's been a difficult decade for many establishments that are simply trying to stay afloat.
At K.C.'s barbershop in Wahiawa, the haircuts are high and tight and the mood is upbeat - after the announcement of the troop withdrawal. "That will be good for business for us, yeah!" says Lenny Maxwell, master barber at K.C.'s.
For years, Mom and Pop shops around these parts have struggled during mass deployments. "It affects us a lot, especially us being right outside of Schofield," explains Maxwell. "That's how we mainly get the majority of our business, from the soldiers."
Up the road at the well-known eatery Molly's Smokehouse, owner Molly Walker can lose as much as 40 percent of her profits when the troops are away. "It's been a really rough ride," says Walker. "You know, we've been hit. Revenues have been stagnant. Expenses have been increasing. So, what did we do? We had to not fill jobs."
Add to that the limp local economy, and the last few years have been a challenge, to say the least. Walker says she is ready for things to get back to normal. "It's time. Way past time!"
Faith has helped many through the lean times, and the doors are always open for soldiers at the Lord's House Pentecostal church in Wahiawa. "We always keep them in prayer for their safety, their safe return home," says Pastor Troy Walker.
For those who've been waiting years for this kind of announcement from the President, those prayers have finally been answered.