Talking Points for the Anniversary of the Iraq War

Talking Points from Military Families Speak Out
Below you will find some talking points to assist you when speaking to press, legislators, friends, and family about the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few things to remember…Statistics can change minds, but only stories can change hearts.
Commonly held beliefs about the war are often based on emotional reactions, not logic. The most powerful tool you have is your own personal story – the facts are here to back you up.

We are more powerful together than alone.
While it’s your individual story that changes hearts, showing that there is a movement of military families speaking out against the war can change the power structure. Make sure to mention Military Families Speak Out whenever you speak to the press or legislators. Most of our members found us because they heard someone like you mention their membership in a local paper, at a rally, or online!

People care most about what impacts them directly
(and remember, journalists and legislators are people too), so always try to make a local connection.  The National Priorities Project has a great new report out on “U.S. Jobs and Budget Crises” with reports for each individual state “provid[ing] current data to help you understand the depth of the problems confronting your state and community, and see the local impact of federal policies.” Visit http://www.nationalpriorities.org/jobs-and-state-budget-crises to download your state report. Also, make sure to check out National Priority Projects’ “Cost of War” database to find out how much money your community has spent on the wars and what that money could have paid for instead- http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

Talking points are not a script.
Try to put them in your own words so they sound natural. If there’s something on here you’re not comfortable saying, don’t say it!

Main Points:

1. The Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan are NOT over
Since the supposed end of combat operations in Iraq last summer, 21 U.S. troops and at least 720 Iraqi civilians have been killed.

Our ongoing military presence in Iraq will cost $65 billion in 2011 alone. According to many analysts, Obama will likely maintain 5 U.S. bases and 50,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely.

The July drawdown date for Afghanistan is a false promise. More troops are being sent to Afghanistan all the time, and the only ones being withdrawn in July are support troops, who’s departure “would not diminish the coalition’s fighting power as significantly as sending home troops whose full-time mission is combat.” (According to the NY Times)

2. The American people are overwhelmingly against the war in Afghanistan
Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

3. Our troops and military families can’t take indefinite war in Iraq & Afghanistan, and neither can our national budget.

5,906 U.S. Soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

42,517 U.S. Soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan

21,117 U.S. Soldiers committed suicide from 2001-2010

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. It is estimated that up to 50% of soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Of these, only one in four report receiving “adequate care.” It is irresponsible to send more troops into harm’s way when we can’t treat those who are already injured.

Returning veterans are now facing rapidly rising unemployment rates, over 20% for returning veterans between the ages of 18-24.

48 states are facing an ongoing state budget crisis, causing severe cuts in education, public housing, and essential services like police and firefighters. According to the National Priorities Project, what we will spend in Iraq in 2011 could instead pay for over 1 million jobs, or 13.4 million people receiving low-income health care.

The operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already surpassed $1 trillion. Economists estimate providing care for returning veterans will cost upwards of another $1 trillion. With an already struggling Veteran’s Administration, we don’t have the infrastructure or the money to provide adequate care for the veterans of these wars.

While the Pentagon has submitted a proposal to increase their budget by $500 billion in the next 10 years, the Obama administration is proposing a 3 year freeze on “discretionary spending,” the money which goes towards things like transportation, education, and housing.

4. Tell Your MFSO Story
Speak from your experience and your heart. Your personal stories of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted your family’s lives contain compelling reasons for bringing our troops home now. This is
especially effective when you explicitly explain how your own experience parallels the situation of hundreds of thousands of others.

Try to always mention MFSO when you speak, write, or give interviews – it lets other military families who oppose these wars know that they are not alone and that there is an organization that can help us make
our voices heard. We’re more powerful as a movement than we are alone.

If getting the support of other MFSO members has helped you, please tell those stories.