Veterans need more than just lip service

This Veterans Day, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) asks you to reconsider the meaning of supporting the troops. As a nation, we are dishonoring our veterans by ignoring the real costs of war, and we contend that we can support our troops by ending the wars and bringing our brothers and sisters home. Veterans Day has historically been an occasion for patriotic ceremonies giving lip service to veterans, but we cannot let these ceremonies obscure the fact that the war in Iraq is not over. The occupation of Afghanistan is not over. And for many veterans of these wars, the suffering is far from over.

As veterans, we know that the violence documented in the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs traumatizes the people living under occupation.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also have been marked by staggering rates of military trauma and suicide among the troops tasked with carrying out these orders. In 2009, 239 Army soldiers killed themselves and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts; 146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug overdoses (these numbers only reflect Army statistics, and do not include suicide rates in the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force). A third of returning troops report mental health problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members are battling either Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

IVAW’s Operation Recovery campaign, launched on Oct. 7, seeks to end the cruel and inhumane practice of redeploying troops suffering from PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other mental and physical wounds — a practice that underlies the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. To bring this reality home to the U.S. public, Central Illinois IVAW will be hosting a panel discussion about military suicides in early December (more details will be coming soon).

Today we asking for more than a moment of silence. We are demanding justice.

Sincerely,

Iraq Veterans Against the War – Central Illinois Chapter:

Scott Kimball, junior in LAS, Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Dylan O’Hearn, freshman in DGS, Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom

Jacob Crawford, class of 2009, Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom