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Talking Points for the Anniversary of the Iraq War

Talking Points from Military Families Speak Out
Below you will find some talking points to assist you when speaking to press, legislators, friends, and family about the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few things to remember…Statistics can change minds, but only stories can change hearts.
Commonly held beliefs about the war are often based on emotional reactions, not logic. The most powerful tool you have is your own personal story – the facts are here to back you up.

We are more powerful together than alone.
While it’s your individual story that changes hearts, showing that there is a movement of military families speaking out against the war can change the power structure. Make sure to mention Military Families Speak Out whenever you speak to the press or legislators. Most of our members found us because they heard someone like you mention their membership in a local paper, at a rally, or online!

People care most about what impacts them directly
(and remember, journalists and legislators are people too), so always try to make a local connection.  The National Priorities Project has a great new report out on “U.S. Jobs and Budget Crises” with reports for each individual state “provid[ing] current data to help you understand the depth of the problems confronting your state and community, and see the local impact of federal policies.” Visit http://www.nationalpriorities.org/jobs-and-state-budget-crises to download your state report. Also, make sure to check out National Priority Projects’ “Cost of War” database to find out how much money your community has spent on the wars and what that money could have paid for instead- http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

Talking points are not a script.
Try to put them in your own words so they sound natural. If there’s something on here you’re not comfortable saying, don’t say it!

Main Points:

1. The Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan are NOT over
Since the supposed end of combat operations in Iraq last summer, 21 U.S. troops and at least 720 Iraqi civilians have been killed.

Our ongoing military presence in Iraq will cost $65 billion in 2011 alone. According to many analysts, Obama will likely maintain 5 U.S. bases and 50,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely.

The July drawdown date for Afghanistan is a false promise. More troops are being sent to Afghanistan all the time, and the only ones being withdrawn in July are support troops, who’s departure “would not diminish the coalition’s fighting power as significantly as sending home troops whose full-time mission is combat.” (According to the NY Times)

2. The American people are overwhelmingly against the war in Afghanistan
Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

3. Our troops and military families can’t take indefinite war in Iraq & Afghanistan, and neither can our national budget.

5,906 U.S. Soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

42,517 U.S. Soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan

21,117 U.S. Soldiers committed suicide from 2001-2010

After 8 years in Iraq and nearly 10 years in Afghanistan, military families are exhausted from multiple deployments and ever-growing rates of trauma among returning troops. It is estimated that up to 50% of soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Of these, only one in four report receiving “adequate care.” It is irresponsible to send more troops into harm’s way when we can’t treat those who are already injured.

Returning veterans are now facing rapidly rising unemployment rates, over 20% for returning veterans between the ages of 18-24.

48 states are facing an ongoing state budget crisis, causing severe cuts in education, public housing, and essential services like police and firefighters. According to the National Priorities Project, what we will spend in Iraq in 2011 could instead pay for over 1 million jobs, or 13.4 million people receiving low-income health care.

The operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already surpassed $1 trillion. Economists estimate providing care for returning veterans will cost upwards of another $1 trillion. With an already struggling Veteran’s Administration, we don’t have the infrastructure or the money to provide adequate care for the veterans of these wars.

While the Pentagon has submitted a proposal to increase their budget by $500 billion in the next 10 years, the Obama administration is proposing a 3 year freeze on “discretionary spending,” the money which goes towards things like transportation, education, and housing.

4. Tell Your MFSO Story
Speak from your experience and your heart. Your personal stories of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted your family’s lives contain compelling reasons for bringing our troops home now. This is
especially effective when you explicitly explain how your own experience parallels the situation of hundreds of thousands of others.

Try to always mention MFSO when you speak, write, or give interviews – it lets other military families who oppose these wars know that they are not alone and that there is an organization that can help us make
our voices heard. We’re more powerful as a movement than we are alone.

If getting the support of other MFSO members has helped you, please tell those stories.

Press Release: Military Families Decry 8 Years of Occupation in Iraq

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2011

Contact: Samantha Miller, 818-419-6994
samantha@mfso.org 

Military Families Decry 8 Years of Occupation in Iraq
Families Travel to DC to Bring Our Troops & Tax Dollars Home

This weekend, military families around the country will mark the 8th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq with protests, teach-ins, art exhibits, civil disobedience, and meeting with Congress, all calling to bring our troops and tax dollars home.  Members of Military Families Speak Out, the largest ever organization of military families speaking out against war, will be coming to DC to make their voices heard, while others will be marking the somber occasion in their hometowns.  

30 members of Military Families Speak Out will be traveling to DC from Ohio, Montana, New York, Oregon, Florida, and as far away as Germany to participate in a teach-in, 2 days of trainings, and grassroots visits with their Senators and Representatives.  For a full schedule of events, visit – http://mfso.org/article.php?id=1443#sched.  

Though the war in Iraq has disappeared from the headlines, and Afghanistan gets barely a mention, military families know there’s still a war going on. Since the supposed end of combat operations in Iraq last summer, 21 U.S. troops and at least 720 Iraqi civilians have been killed (1).  According to many analysts, Obama will likely maintain 5 U.S. bases and 50,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely (2).  According to the National Priorities Project, U.S. taxpayers will contribute $65 billion to the war in Iraq in 2011 alone, money that could instead pay for over 1 million jobs, or 13.4 million people receiving low-income health care (3).

“I’m coming to DC because my Representatives are making life and death decisions for my family, putting my son in harm’s way, deciding what care he will or will not receive.  Of course everyone worries when they have a loved one deployed, but I’m not just worried about whether or not he’ll come home, I’m worried about what he’s coming home to – the unemployment rate for young veterans keeps climbing, and the Veterans Administration is not able to provide adequate care.  We need to bring our troops home now and take proper care of them instead of wasting our resources on wars that are not making us safer,” said Rosalie Donatelli from Michigan, whose son is currently serving in Afghanistan.

After 8 years in Iraq and nearly 10 years in Afghanistan, military families are exhausted from multiple deployments and ever-growing rates of trauma among returning troops, and are now facing a rapidly rising unemployment rates among veterans, over 20% for returning veterans between the ages of 18-24 (4).

“My community is suffering from cuts to health care, failing schools, and a rising unemployment rate.  My husband was discharged from the Army in Nov. 2010. He is 75% disabled now and just had his 3rd operation.  He is not able to work.  His unemployment benefits have been cut, and his disability pay does not cover our expenses.  I am working full time, but can not make ends meet.” said MFSO member Tammara Rosenleaf who will be traveling from Montana to DC to meet with her Representatives in Congress this week. “Congress and the President may say a lot of nice things about supporting our troops and military families, but that’s not helping me and my Veteran husband pay our bills.”

1 icasualties.org
2 Jamail, Dahr “Iraq: Operation Enduring Occupation,” http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18204 and Schwartz, Michael “Will the U.S. Military Leave Iraq in 2011?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-schwartz/will-the-us-military-leav_b_498579.html
3 National Priorities Project, Trade-Offs Database, http://nationalpriorities.org/tools/tradeoffs/
4 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/12/AR2010031204123.html

Meet the Real Needs of Veterans & their Families?

Last night, President Obama called for support of our troops and their families, yet he painted far too rosy a picture of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and stopped short of offering any real plans to ensure jobs and mental health services for veterans.

Since the supposed end of combat operations in Iraq last summer, 18 U.S. troops and at least 649 Iraqi civilians have been killed.  According to many analysts, Obama will likely maintain 5 U.S. bases and 50,000 troops in Iraq indefinetly.1 According to the National Priorities Project, U.S. taxpayers will contribute $65 billion to the war in Iraq, money that could instead pay for over 1 million jobs, or 13.4 million people receiving low-income health care.2

President Obama stated that troops would start coming home from Afghanistan this July, but Pat Alviso, who’s son is currently serving in Afghanistan, asks: “The withdrawal may start in July, but when will it end? My son is in Afghanistan now, and almost 30,000 more troops are scheduled to deploy before July.  When will they come home?”  She continued, “If President Obama, wants to keep his promise of ‘shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity,’ he needs to bring my son and all the troops home now – and take care of them when they get here.”

The president also made sweeping promises about improving education, health care, clean energy, and creating jobs.  However, at the same time he is proposing a 5-year freeze in domestic spending, with only minor cuts to the military budget.  “My community is suffering from cuts to health care, failing schools, and a rising unemployment rate.  My husband was discharged from the Army in Nov. 2010. He is 75% disabled now and just had his 3rd operation.  He is not able to work.  His unemployment benefits have been cut, and his disability pay does not cover our expenses.  I am working full time, but can not make ends meet.” said MFSO member Tammara Rosenleaf from Montana. “Congress and the President may clap to show their gratitude, but I’d rather be able to actually pay my bills.”

Members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interviews about the State of the Union. If you are looking for a family with a specific story, please contact Samantha Miller, MFSO’s Communications Coordinator – Samantha@mfso.org or 818-419-6994

MFSO is a national organization of thousands of military families working to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, secure the care that our troops, veterans, and military families need, and support a foreign policy that will not lead us into such wars again. Gold Star Families Speak Out is a chapter of Military Families Speak Out made up of families whose loved ones died as a result of these wars.

MFSO has recently launched a new national campaign, The True Costs of War, highlighting the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Using online tools, local events, media outreach and grassroots lobbying, we are working to strengthen the voices of military families and build alliances with other organizations who agree that our troops and tax dollars belong at home.

For more information about Military Families Speak Out, please visit: http://www.mfso.org
For more information about Gold Star Families Speak Out, please visit http://www.gsfso.org

1. Jamail, Dahr “Iraq: Operation Enduring Occupation,” http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18204 and Schwartz, Michael “Will the U.S. Military Leave Iraq in 2011?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-schwartz/will-the-us-military-leav_b_498579.html
2. National Priorities Project, Trade-Offs Database, http://nationalpriorities.org/tools/tradeoffs/

Military Families to Obama: If you want to support us, end the wars

Members of Military Families Speak Out will be watching President Obama’s State of the Union address this evening, and though they know the focus will be on jobs and strengthening the economy, they’ll be listening closely for any mention of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m heartened to hear about President Obama’s pledge Monday for unprecedented support for military families. The best thing he could do to support us is to bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m proud of my son for serving, but like most Americans don’t believe that how he is being used is actually making us any safer,” said MFSO member Pat Alviso, whose son is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interviews about the State of the Union. If you are looking for a family with a specific story, please contact Samantha Miller, MFSO’s Communications Coordinator, for more information – Samantha@mfso.org, 818-419-6994

MFSO is a national organization of thousands of military families working to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, secure the care that our troops, veterans, and military families need, and support a foreign policy that will not lead us into such wars again. Gold Star Families Speak Out is a chapter of Military Families Speak Out made up of families whose loved ones died as a result of these wars.

MFSO has recently launched a new national campaign, The True Costs of War, highlighting the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Using online tools, local events, media outreach and grassroots lobbying, we are working to strengthen the voices of military families and build alliances with other organizations who agree that our troops and tax dollars belong at home.

For more information about Military Families Speak Out, please visit: http://www.mfso.org
For more information about Gold Star Families Speak Out, please visit http://www.gsfso.org