Tag Archives: Obama

MFSO Statement on Strategic Partnership Agreement

Military Families Call for Immediate End to the War in Afghanistan

After more than ten years of war in Afghanistan, military families, along with the majority of the American public, want to see a real end to the war. The U.S. – Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by President Obama and President Karzai on May 1st, however, continues combat operations through 2014 and commits the U.S. to military and financial support for Afghanistan well beyond 2014.

At least 1,957 troops have died and 15,300 troops have been injured trying to create a stable Afghanistan. We have lost 381 service members since Osama bin Laden was assassinated. Yet after 11 years and over half a trillion dollars, the U.S. has not been able to stop the Taliban nor create an effective Afghan government.

“Why is it that neither the military nor our president can ever clearly explain how the U.S. benefits from another 2 years of combat? Our troops could easily be home by the end of 2012. How many more young lives will be sacrificed before 2014? How many more times will my son be sent into harm’s way in a war that’s wasting our country’s resources and not making us any safer?” asked Mary Hladky of Springfield, Ohio, whose son just returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan.

While many U.S. troops will come home by the end of 2014, others will remain in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism operations with the Afghan National Army, a mission that still includes combat and other significant risks. Furthermore, there is a significant threat posed by the Afghan troops being trained, many of whom have turned their guns on their U.S. counterparts, resulting in 35 deaths last year and an unknown number of attempted attacks.

“When an Afghan in uniform wounds — or misses — his American target, it has not been reported. We don’t know how many of our service members have been attacked by ANA troops or Afghan police.  Since our loved ones will be working closely with the ANA in training for the next 12 years, this horror of war is unacceptable,” said Anna Berlinrut of Maplewood, New Jersey, whose son will deploy to Afghanistan in Fall 2012 for his 6th combat tour.

There is no military solution in Afghanistan. 2 more years or 12 more years is not going to change that fact.  The time for our troops to come home is now.

#########

Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) is a grassroots organization over over 3,000 military families whose loved ones have served in the military since September 11, 2001.  As the only organization of military families in the U.S. speaking out against the war in Afghanistan, we say: End the war now, bring the troops home, and take care of them when they get here.  For more information visit mfso.org

Military Families reflect on the end of the Iraq War

The nightmare continues…

From Pat Alviso and Jeff Merrick, Long Beach Ca. Parents of Marine who has been deployed 4 times

As a loving family, along with our son, who is a career Marine, we watched in horror when we invaded Afghanistan and the drumbeat for war lead into the senseless invasion and occupation of Iraq. Military families have paid dearly- over 4,000 of our loved ones are gone forever. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead. And it took all this time to finally get out of a war that should never have happened in the first place? People like us who are fighting for justice and against the misuse of our military are telling me they will believe it when they see it.

In our home, we take heart in the fact that our president has announced we will finally be out in December, even though this was a result of not being able to cut a deal with the Iraqi’s regarding troop accountability and that this was President Bush’s signed Status of Forces’ Agreement, not anything President Obama decided. Our son has been deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. He is scheduled to be re-deployed again in January. For us- and so many others- the nightmare continues.

The War Has Come to an End – for Whom?

From Susan Handle Terbay

Over 30 years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  I loved him from the moment I felt his movement inside my body and that love has never wavered.  I nurtured him, taught him right from wrong.  My life centered around him and his siblings.

That son went to war and returned a different son and I grieve.  The military taught him how to take a life but not how to live a life after fighting in a war.  The military taught him to disassociate his feelings – to become void of any feelings during a war but did not tell him how to allow feelings of love and joy to return.

The war I protested, the war that provided nothing to the world except destruction of humans from our soldiers to the innocents of the invaded country, has invaded the sanctity of my family and it never goes away.  No one outside the family realizes the depth of wounds within our hearts as we watch my son’s struggles to heal and be normal in a society that praises him in one moment and completely ignores and abandons him in the next.  We are his life-line and yet we are his enemy.  It is a reality of  so many military families of soldiers with PTSD.  While my son suffers from PTSD – so too, do we as his family.

When the President stated that our soldiers were coming home from Iraq by the end of the year, I hesitantly smiled, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the conditions to be laid out.  If it is true then what will our sons and daughters be coming home to in our country?  Praise, of course; heroes, of course and then when all the glitter is gone what is left but a soldier and his/her family struggling to heal the wounds that forever bleed and to find laughter again when overwhelming sadness prevails deep within a soul.  Society has a short memory and will turn on these young men and women if they fail to live up to our high standards of living.  We used them and now we are done with them attitude has to end in this country and it is time we start to respect life of all humans.

The war is coming to an end but is it really?

When will we ever learn? Now is the time.  Now let’s bring them home from Afghanistan.   Now let us learn to live in peace and not have knee-jerk reactions that lead us to war and worse the loss of our young men and women – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Now is the time to be the country who leads the world in life and living in peace and not the country who leads the world in its destruction.

War destroys so much and it never, ever ends for those it consumes!

The Iraq War is ending, but the work continues…

It is still a bit hard to believe: after almost 9 years, the Iraq War – this war that should never have started, that inspired the largest protests the world had ever seen, that cost the lives of 4,470 service members and unknown thousands of Iraqi civilians – will officially come to an end. 

As military families, we rejoice when any troops come home, and we are relieved our loved ones will never again be deployed to Iraq.  However, we know that the war is not really over, not for military families, not for veterans, and not for the people of Iraq.  It is not over for families with loved ones who will leave Iraq only to be redeployed to Afghanistan. For the families whose loved ones never returned from Iraq, or who took their own lives, or who returned with significant physical and psychological wounds,  it will never really be over.

The people of Iraq will still be faced with private U.S. military contractors and years of rebuilding their country.  In Iraq, it is not just the military but the entire country that will have to deal with the physical and psychological wounds of war.  To add insult to injury, Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta recently announced that 40,000 troops will stay “in the region,” meaning the U.S. could easily have troops back on the ground in Iraq at any time.

There is still a lot of work to be done, and the voices of military families are more important than ever.  We must continue working for an end to the war in Afghanistan, for better treatment of our service members, and for proper care for all veterans.  We must hold our government accountable and continue to speak out.

As always, we say: “Bring ALL the troops home now, and take care of them when they get here!”

My Son Leaves for Afghanistan July 25, 2011

-DAY #1: Text Message, Sunday, June 19, 2011 @ 9:50 am-

Mom: Did you make it to your new base okay? Call when you can. Love you.
Son: Everything is good
Mom: Keep me posted! Let me know when and how we can communicate.
Son: Okay I will

-1:59 pm-

Son: Hey the 3-71 Cav 3rd Brigade 10th Mountain left in Feb or March. Some guys are leaving late next month. It’s 50/50 if I go.
Mom: How do they decide? Did they go to Afghanistan? Kandahar?
Son: I don’t know how they decide. They went to Kandahar.

-DAY #2: Text Message, Monday, June 20, 2011 @ 9:19 am-

Son: I was told I would be going some time in the next 30 days
Mom: That soon? Are others going? Will you be able to give us a date?
Son: Yes there are others going. No date yet
Mom: How do you feel about going to Afghanistan? Do you feel prepared? Does it scare you?
Son: I really don’t want to talk about it right now

-DAY #3: Text message, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 @ 4:15 pm-

Son: I leave July 25th for Afghanistan
Mom: Can I come with you?

Hi, my name is Patty. I am the Mom of a 10th Mountain Division U.S. soldier. My 21-year old son graduated from his AIT (Army Intensive Training) on June 9, 2011. On June 18th, he re- ported to Fort Drum, NY. On July 25th he is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan.

3-days was all it took for my world to crash. 3-days was all it took for the U.S. military to change my son from the “new soldier on the block” to “the next soldier to be deployed”. I still have not wrapped my mind around the fact that my son is really going to Afghanistan. Only a few days ago I listened as President Obama publicly announced his “plan” to bring home 33,000 U.S. troops by September 2012, leaving 68,000 to continue in this war that has no promise of end in sight. I had small hopes as I listened, that President Obama would hear the cries of a nation to bring their children home. I had small hopes that President Obama would see the desperation of a nation plagued by unemployment, loss of homes, lack of health care, declining educational insti- tutions, communities devastated by natural disasters, and bring the war dollars home. I had small hopes that President Obama would speak to a nation of people with words of encouragement and hope. I had small hopes that President Obama would say “Troops, job well-done. It is time for you ALL to come home.”

Small hopes, while small, are still hopes. Yet this morning, as I write this, my small hopes have become unstoppable tears. Tears for the more than 6,000 soldiers that will not be walking through doors to be embraced by their loved ones. Tears for the many soldiers wounded, whose lives will forever be impacted and changed by this “war on terror”. Tears for the thousands of civilians wounded or killed under the guise of imposing self-determination. Tears for the loved ones who sit by the phone waiting to hear the voice of their soldier. Tears for the loved ones fear- ful to answer that knock on the door. Tears for those that may still be lost.

As the President’s drawdown plan begins to permeate my life, many questions arise.

Mr. President, if you are really planning on bringing our troops home, why are there soldiers now waiting to be deployed?

I understand the theory of rotating troops. I understand the advantages of rotating the troops; rested soldiers have higher morale and are better suited to keep the enemy engaged. I also under- stand the disadvantages of rotating the troops; the strategy requires additional planning and man- agement skills. It also requires a heavier investment in personnel, training and equipment.

Mr. President, as U.S. soldiers return home, shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the Afghan gov- ernment to fill their replacement? We’ve been there for 10-years, surely we have provided enough training to allow the Afghans to begin to defend themselves and define their own road to self-determination.

Mr. President, what do you consider victory in Afghanistan? Are you “holding out” on bringing our troops home until we have reached your definition of victory? How long can you continue to ignore 73% of the nation wanting the war in Afghanistan to end? How many more soldiers must sacrifice their lives for you to bring them home? How many more dollars that are needed here at home, must be deflected to a cause that fewer and fewer believe in?

And many other questions that still remain to be answered.

In the meantime, my hopes that became tears, quickly becomes rage. Rage at feeling helpless to make a difference. Rage at feeling hopeless that the people will ever be heard by a government removed. Rage that as a Mom, I can’t make the journey to Afghanistan with my son. I’ve been there through all of the other scary situations he has faced; sometimes to alleviate the fear, some- times to help heal the wound, sometimes to show the way, and sometimes to just hold his hand. Now I am being asked to stay behind. Now I am being asked to trust. Now I am being asked to wait as my son makes a journey to a land where outcomes are unknown.

I now start almost every conversation the same. My name is Patty, and I AM the Mom of a 10th Mountain Division U.S. Soldier. I now begin and end my day with the same prayer;

“Please help me find a way to be heard. Please let me find a way to help end this war and to bring them all home. Help me find a way to get up everyday and do what I have to do and to not be frozen by my fears. Please help me find a way to support my son.”

Hopes, while small, are still hopes. Tears while they become rage, are still empowering. I will not be quiet. I will not go away. I will not let the powers-that-be forget what is at stake. I will not let anyone forget that ending this war matters to me. I will not let anyone forget mine or anyone else’s soldier. It is time to bring them all home now!

Patty Bennett Mom of 10th Mountain Division U.S. Soldier & Member of Military Families Speak Out