Protests across the nation focused on stopping a military attack in Iraq and properly funding the Veterans Administration
Iraq Veterans Warn Obama: Military Intervention in Iraq Will Be a Disaster
Iraq War veterans are sending a message to President Obama: Don’t intervene in Iraq, it will only result in more lost lives, both U.S. and Iraqi.
After the nightmare of more than a decade of war, many Iraq veterans see the destabilizing U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as the reason for the crisis the country finds itself in. They point to the futility of further U.S. military action and the likelihood that airstrikes, rather than benefiting the Iraqi people, will continue to bring them death, destruction and dislocation, while also putting U.S. service members in further danger.
June 19th, Iraq veterans and family members are calling on the Obama administration to stay out of the brewing civil war; to provide humanitarian aid to refugees; and to pursue international diplomacy towards reconciliation for the people of Iraq.
Report on Press Conference Held In Washington, DC
by Helen Jaccard
Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out were represented at the National Press Club Thursday June 19, 2014 to give the message that Iraq War Veterans are sending a message to President Obama: Don’t intervene in Iraq, it will only result in more lost lives, both U.S. and Iraqi.
Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace, moderated. He said, “Today, President Obama will be speaking to the U.S. public about renewed military intervention in Iraq. Yesterday he told Congressional leaders that he will not seek authorization from Congress if he decides to attack Iraq with aerial bombing, drone strikes, placement of special forces for direct strikes and training of Shiite militias, or military ‘aid’”. Senator McCain is calling for more war, never enough war. Mr. Obama, it is important to listen to the American people and especially the veterans of that war and their familes, who have given so much, and who are now asking ‘for what?’.”
Ray McGovern, former Intelligence officer and CIA analyst, co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, said, “Right now, people are asking, ‘Who lost Iraq?’ … The Washington Post today says that a few years ago the U.S. was ‘on the brink of success’ in Iraq. And people were ‘very encouraged’ by the surge. These are lies. The People of the U.S. are completely ignored and kept in the dark. It is interesting to note in the Washington Post a side remark, ‘The Iraqi people remain something of an abstraction to the U.S.’ Here is a picture of Sumara Hassan, six years old, shot up with her blood and the blood of her family on her dress, kneeling on the floor, and beside her a soldier who has realized what they had just done. The Iraqi people are our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren – not some ‘abstraction’. When Petraeus called for the surge, it resulted in more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed for NOTHING. NOTHING. We need to hold General Petraeus and all of the generals accountable for the Iraqi people and the veterans.”
Ross Caputi, a Marine Corps veteran of the second siege of Fallujah, is on the Board of Directors of ISLAH (www.reparations.org) and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He talked about the misinformation of the last few days – the media reporting that ISIS is a lone actor conquering territory to establish an Islamic State through fear. “It is more complicated than that. A non-violent Iraqi Spring movement happened a year ago, a movement of Sunnis and supported by Shia to end sectarianism in the government, an end to the talk of breaking up Iraq. Any further actions by the U.S. to arm the Maliki government in Baghdad or support it through military intervention would be completely unacceptable and immoral, as Iraqi civilians will surely suffer the most.”
Matt Southworth, Iraq War veteran and former VFP Vice President, said: ” U.S. military intervention in Iraq will prolong the violence, worsen the humanitarian crisis and will fail to bring peace of stability to fragile Iraq. Bombs cannot bring peace and stability.
Here is what we should do:
1. Reject another U.S. military intervention
2. Halt unconditional aid to Iraq
3. Convene a conference to establish a comprehensive arms embargo to Iraq and Syria
4. Publicly support a political settlement between key parties in the conflict.
5. Increase and better allocate humanitarian funds to address the humanitarian crisis”
Tim Kahlor, father of medically retired Sgt. Ryan Kahlor, who served over 24 months on two tours in Iraq, said: “My son has been through total hell for the last 8 years. He was blown up 6-8 times in a Bradley. The military kept him on narcotics so they would have enough boots on the ground. We had to fight for a diagnosis of PTSD and TBI. We don’t have the funding to take care of the veterans, and now we’re going to re-open this war?!”
Report on Los Angeles Press Conference and Rally
Report from Madison & Janesville, WI Press Conferences
On Thursday, June 19, 2014, Madison and Janesville area members of Veterans for Peace held a press conference on the Veterans Administration health care situation, service levels, wait times, VA under funding and understaffing, and the massive needs for health care to help aging WWII and Vietnam Era vets and younger vets of Afghanistan, Iraq and other illegal wars. They also focused on American’s age old propensity to forget veterans after the wars are over.
Our analysis shows the VA health care service is getting approximately half the money it needs. President Obama and the Congress are short-funding the VA health care system an estimated $55.6 billion for the 2015 budget year.
Local veterans of WWII, Vietnam and other periods (who are all members of Veterans for Peace) spoke at both press conferences. At the 10 AM press conference in Madison all three local television stations sent reporters along with Wisconsin Public Radio and others. At 2 PM we conducted a second repeat press conference in Janesville, WI a much smaller community at which one local newspaper reporter covered that event.
ALBANY >> Members of Veterans for Peace gathered outside the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center Thursday in an effort to raise public awareness about inadequate funding for veterans’ health care.
According to the group, a nationwide audit by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that 57,000 veterans have been waiting more than 90 days for an appointment at VA clinics, while another 64,000 requested medical care but never made it onto waiting lists.
“We feel that all veterans have earned the health care that they have been promised, and we’re insisting today the government start providing the funding immediately.” said John Amidon, President of the VFP Albany Chapter.
Amidon and other demonstrators said the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center was one of the better-operating VA hospitals in the state and nation. Amidon, a Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran and patient at the medical center, said he’d been treated well.
“We’re very fortunate to have a competently run hospital — not that it’s perfect — but other places in the country are having massive problems.”
The demonstrators said they wanted to help the medical center not only keep the employees it has, but also add the new employees it needs.
The inadequate funding, they said, can be attributed to the last 13 years of perpetual war.
“The wars keep producing more and more wounded veterans,” said Tarak Kauff, from the national board for Veterans for Peace. “And even if they’re not wounded on their bodies, they’re wounded in other ways. They’re all wounded. You almost can’t escape it.”
Amidon and Kauff said besides physical injuries, veterans are also suffering from mental health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder, “moral injury,” and a high number of sexual assault and rapes. According to a VA study conducted in 2012, 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
“There is plenty of money budgeted for weapons systems and contractors, but never enough to take care of the troops,” the group said in a press release.
“And really, honestly, what we need to do is stop sending people to war that are not in defense of our nation,” said Amidon.
Molly Eadie can also be reached at 270-1288.