MFSO Leader from West Virginia Loses Son To Suicide
We were extremely saddened to learn that Marcia Westbrook’s youngest son, Tyler, died by suicide Thursday morning. Tyler Milam Westbrook, a member of the Special Forces in the Army, was stationed at Ft. Carson, CO. Although we are always aware of the possibility of this happening to each one of us, this news has been devastating to all of us in Military Families Speak Out.
Marcia has been working steadily with the Steering Committee since our rebuild and also serves on the Rapid Response Team, the executive board of MFSO and has had three sons in the military since 9-11.
Cards and condolences to the family can be sent to Marcia Westbrook at:
814 Victoria Ave.
Williamstown, WV 26187
Tyler’s family will be greeting friends from noon until 8 p.m. Saturday, at the Marietta Chapel of Cawley & Peoples Funeral Home, 408 Front St., Marietta. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, at the Williamstown High School Gymnasium.
A complete obituary will be printed in Friday’s edition of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, or may be viewed at www.cawleyandpeoples.com
MFSO Response on Additional Advisors Sent to Iraq
Military Families Speak Out is alarmed and angered over the recent announcement made by President Obama that he plans to send 450 more “advisors” to Iraq and is considering the building of more bases.
These additional advisors will not be used at Army HQ but will be attached to the lower level units actually advising during battles with ISIS. This is particularly disturbing to all of us because we know that this plan will bring our loved ones potentially closer to the battlefield. More unsettling is the recent comment made by Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter that the “administration would ‘revisit’ whether to send more US troops, or to broaden their role once ‘adequate’ Iraqi units are in combat.” (LA Times 6-18-15). This is a clear indication that President Obama is considering sending ground troops when the time is right. We should all be vigilant, speak out and oppose what appears to be a preparation for sending more troops. We can’t afford to wait until this announcement is made and must do all we can to let the administration know how senseless and frightening this possibility is to military families and to the people in Iraq as well.
“I realize there’s no guarantee my son won’t see combat and that scares me. I fear for my son’s life” – Rossana Cambron, Army Mom
Just last year, President Obama stated, “There is no military solution to a larger crisis in Iraq…” so why is it that the only response from the US involves the military? 3,100 troops have already been deployed to Iraq; US airstrikes and drone warfare continues in Iraq and Syria every day. $3.42 million is spent every hour for military actions against the Islamic State. After thousands of lives have been lost and billions of dollars spent, things have only worsened. ISIS has grown and gained more territory. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned the public last month that Iraqi troops lack the “will to fight”. The recent news that the Iraq military lost many Humvees, US tanks, machine guns to the Islamic State was disturbing and another example of how our military intervention has resulted in US weapons potentially being used against us. It seems obvious to all of us that sending 450 more advisors, a move the Pentagon opposes, will make little difference and will just be getting our military more deeply involved and can only result in creating that “slippery slope” situation we all fear, which will make it harder to extricate ourselves from, as history has proven.
Let’s not lose sight that this most recent plan is a dangerous move and a real threat not only to the men and women of our military, but to Iraq civilians who have suffered greatly as well.
“We oppose sending our loved ones back to Iraq, a place that we never should have occupied in the first place”, said one military mom from Massachusetts. “Military families have already sustained too many deaths, suicides, injuries, amputations and mental health issues. Sending additional troops back to Iraq will only result in more deaths and injuries for not only our families but also for thousands of innocent civilians. The people responsible for starting this unnecessary war have accepted no responsibility for the carnage and chaos it has created. How dare they continue to put the lives and limbs of our loved ones at risk again?
Solutions to the situation in Iraq are not simple, but there are ways to address this challenge that do not include U.S. military action. Join MFSO and Veterans for Peace is demanding these actions:
- Stop the airstrikes. The Sunni leaders and militia, who President Obama acknowledges must be persuaded to break with ISIL, see the U.S. as acting as the air force for the Kurds and Shia against Sunnis. The driving force for the Sunni-ISIL alliance is the alienation of Sunnis from Baghdad by the recent U.S.-backed Iraqi governments. Bombing Sunnis will not help to mend this relationship.
- Stop sending troops to Iraq and stop sending more weapons that fuel the conflict killing more civilians and ignoring human rights violations committed by “allies.”
- Make diplomacy the number one priority. Since it is clear there is no military solution, the U.S. must seriously engage with everyone in the region, including Iran, who is needed to force the Iraqi government to be more inclusive with Sunni leaders. Without an inclusive government in Iraq there is no way to effectively confront ISIL.
- Initiate new diplomatic efforts in the United Nations. Use diplomatic and financial pressure to stop countries from financing and arming ISIL and other fighters in Syria. An arms embargo on all sides should be on the long-term agenda.
- Restart UN negotiations to end the civil war in Syria. Set aside preconceived demands and work to end the violence. Once that is achieved the people of Syria can begin to chart their destiny.
- Massively increase humanitarian efforts through the UN and any other means. Real and effective efforts to relieve the suffering of hundreds of thousands of refugees from war will go a long way in convincing people to break with ISIL. More U.S. bombings and killings will only confirm that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam.
Join Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace in demanding real solutions for the crisis in Iraq and Syria. The entire proposal and concrete analysis can be found at www.veteransforpeace.org