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/