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Campaign Overview: The True Costs of War

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As military families, we know the true costs of war. It is our loved ones who are serving without adequate materials, returning home to failed job prospects and inadequate care. Most tragic of all for some of us our loved ones will never return home again.

But the American public is also suffering the true costs of war. It costs $1 million a year to keep one soldier on the ground in Afghanistan. The operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already surpassed $1 trillion. Economists estimate providing care for returning veterans will reach another $1 trillion.

Hundreds of thousands of American men and women are serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – wars that are not making us any safer at home. The wars are, however, hurting our troops and military families, and decimating our economy.

The Pentagon has more than enough money to quickly and safely bring our troops home now. Cutting off funding to the wars is the best way to support our troops.

MFSO members can play a critical role in educating and inspiring the public to mobilize direct pressure on President Obama and Congress to end the wars and provide comprehensive care to veterans and their families.  We hope you will join our campaign – we need your involvement!

Military Families Say: The War is Not Over

Contact:

Nikki Morse, nikki@mfso.org, 347-703-0570
Deborah Forter, deborah@mfso.org, 508-237-5343
Tonight President Obama will address the nation regarding the withdrawal of so-called combat forces from Iraq.  While members of Military Families Speak Out are heartened that more troops will be coming home, we know that this would not have happened without the concentrated efforts of our members and other organizations around the country over the last 7 years. The harsh truth that we know is that this war is not over.The war in Iraq is not over for the families who’s loved ones never returned from Iraq, or who returned with significant physical and psychological wounds, or who took their own lives upon return. It is not over for the families whose loved ones in the Individual Ready Reserves were plucked from full-time schooling and recently sent back to serve in Iraq. It is not over for families with loved ones currently serving in Iraq whose relatives have changed overnight from “combat forces” to “advisors.” It is not over for families with loved ones who will now leave Iraq, only to be redeployed to Afghanistan.

The withdrawal of U.S. service members deemed combat troops provides little solace for the over 4,400 families grieving families whose loved ones died as a result of the war in Iraq. Their grief is compounded by
the fact that their loss has not made America safer or improved the lives of Iraqis; and that other families continue to face the possibility of this same devastating loss.

“With great sadness my family and I mark this occasion.  On April 26, 2004 my son died in an explosion while looking for the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.  We are but one of the over 4,400 American families who mourn the loss of our loved ones in Iraq; physical and spiritual casualties affect tens of thousands more – and yet the wars that kill and maim our young and drain our treasure do not create peace. It is long past time to bring all of our troops home, and find real solutions for Peace,” said Gold Star Families Speak Out member Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, whose son was the first Pennsylvania guardsman killed in the war in Iraq.
“The cost of the war in Iraq cannot be measured only in terms of lives lost or billions wasted. For the Iraqis who have to deal with broken lives, broken infrastructure, a broken political system, the war is not over. It will go on and on for too many of our warriors and their families because of PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and other devastating injuries to our soldiers,” said Cynthia Benjamin of Mt. Vision, NY, mother of an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) soldier, emergency room nurse and active member of Military Families Speak Out.

Nancy Nygard, a Military Family Speaks Out member from Teaneck, New Jersey, said, “My son served a 16 month deployment in Afghanistan, being stop-lossed and extended past his initial 12 month deployment. In December of 2009, within 24 hours of President Obama’s speech on the surge in Afghanistan, my son Joe received FedEx’d orders to report for duty assigned to combat infantry unit to serve in Iraq for 400 days. He had returned home, was honorably discharged and had begun rebuilding his life. He was in school full-time, and raising his two young children. Now what he is doing in Iraq? He was a combat troop when he deployed. Calling it something different does nothing to sooth his wife and young children. Claiming an end to the war when my family is devastated is a farce. This war is not over.”

Military Families Speak Out continues to call for a true end to the military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for all troops to be brought home quickly and safely from both countries and for returning
troops to get the care they need when they return.

Celeste Zappala, Cynthia Benjamin, Nancy Nygard and other Gold star
and military families are available for interview. More information
about Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out can
be found at www.mfso.org.

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Veterans and Military Families Say Pentagon Statements on Wikileaks aim to Cloud Real Issues

August 3, 2010


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CONTACT:

Mike Ferner, Veterans For Peace,
419-729-7273

Deb Forter, Military Families
Speak Out, 617-983-0710

Jose Vasquez, Iraq Veterans
Against the War, 917-587-3334

 

As organizations, we represent veterans and military families.  We have personally carried the burden of the war in Afghanistan, along with wars past. We are glad that the truth about the war is getting out to the public with the recent 92,000 documents on Wikileaks.  Hopefully, this will inspire a massive outcry against this war that is wreaking so much destruction to our exhausted and demoralized troops and their families while draining our national coffers.

Obama administration officials are trying to spin events in their favor.  Their words must be carefully examined. On the one hand, in an effort to downplay the significance of the release, we are told the documents contain no new information.

On the other hand, some high ranking members of the U.S. military are trying to: 1) intimidate anyone else from doing the same thing and 2) turn public opinion against whoever leaked the current documents.  Towards those goals, we are told that grievous harm will surely come to many Afghans and U.S. military personnel – if not now then certainly later.

A more damning statement could hardly be imagined than this one from Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “The truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”

While we certainly do not wish to see one additional person put at risk in this tragic, wrongheaded war, we must state the following as clearly as we can.

As veterans and families with members in the military, we consider statements like Admiral Mullen’s to be nothing more than calculated attempts to turn public attention away from the real problem – the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan that has already caused the deaths and injuries of many thousands of innocent people all the while millions of Americans are jobless and face foreclosure or eviction.

This suffering in Afghanistan and this bleeding at home will continue as long as our troops remain in that country.  Congress must stop funding this war.  We must bring our troops home now, take care of them properly when they return and pay to rebuild the damage we have caused to Afghanistan.

 

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Veterans For Peace is a national organization in its 25th year, with military service members from WWII and every conflict and period since then.

Military Families Speak Out is an organization of people opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have relatives or loved ones who are currently in the military or who have served in the military since the fall of 2002.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is a national organization comprised of active duty, guard, and reserve troops and veterans who have served since 9/11. We call for immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations to the people of those countries, and full benefits for returning service members.