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