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Our Troops and Iraqis are Still Dying – Open Letter to Anti-War Movement from IVAW, MFSO, VFP

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An Open Letter to the Peace/Anti-War Movement from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace

After six years of war and the historic election of a new President, we as
veterans, military and Gold Star families felt an urgent need to reach out to
the larger peace/anti-war movements to make our position on Iraq clear during
this time of political and economic uncertainty. Iraq Veterans Against the War,
Military Families Speak Out and Veterans For Peace continue to stand together
in our demand to Bring the Troops Home Now! We ask all those who have stood
with us in the past to stay faithful to the cause.

President Obama has announced a plan to gradually reduce troop levels in Iraq.
Many in the peace/anti-war movements are breathing a sigh of relief, and suggesting
that it is time for us to scale back our efforts to bring an end to the occupation
of Iraq. But for our troops on the ground, their families and the Iraqi people,
the nightmare continues. They need all of us to stay in the struggle. IVAW,
MFSO and VFP have been long united in our call for an immediate and complete
end to the occupation of Iraq and will not shift our stance under any circumstances.

President Obama’s plan will result in more casualties and suffering for U.S.
troops, their families and Iraqis. To the American public facing hard times
here at home, two and a half more years of occupation may not sound like that
long — but for our troops and their families it means two and a half more years
of fear, pain, and separation in a war and occupation based on lies. Hundreds
of the troops deployed in the next two and a half years will not come home alive.
Many more will return forever scarred by deep wounds to their bodies, minds,
and spirits. Well over a million Iraqis have died as a result of this war —
many more will be killed as the occupation continues.

We cannot afford the cost of empire. Today we are in the midst of the worst
economic crisis most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Yet our government continues
to allow the occupation to drain $10 billion a month from our nation’s coffers.
Meanwhile, veterans and military families struggle to put food on the table
and get decent housing and adequate medical care. Women and men who risked their
lives for this country are often forced to fight tooth and nail to get health
care from an underfunded and overburdened Veterans Administration. Hundreds
of thousands of veterans are homeless.

The occupation of Iraq is the source of the violence not the solution. Living
under occupation the people of Iraq are held back from taking control of their
own lives to determine their destiny. The continued U.S. military presence there
is a cause of the violence they face, not its solution. U.S. continued interference
contradicts the principles of democracy and self-determination our country was
founded on.

IVAW, MFSO and VFP will continue to keep pressure on Congress and the President
to bring all our troops home from Iraq NOW, ensure that veterans receive the
care they need and deserve, and that the U.S. provides resources to rebuild
a country we destroyed. But we cannot do that alone. We need your help to reach
out to the vast majority of the American people who are completely isolated
from the realities of this war. Please don’t abandon this struggle or shift
your position before the occupation is over and our veterans and the Iraqi people
are on the path to healing.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded by Iraq war veterans in July
2004 at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace (VFP) in Boston to give
a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are
against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent. From its
inception, IVAW has called for: Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces
in Iraq; reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered,
and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control
their own lives and future; and dull benefits, adequate healthcare (including
mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women. IVAW’s
membership includes recent veterans and active duty servicemen and women from
all branches of military service, National Guard members, and reservists who
have served in the United States military since September 11, 2001.
Military Families Speak Out is an organization of people opposed to the war
in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones who are currently in the military or
who have served in the military since the buildup to the Iraq war in the fall
of 2002. Formed by two families in November of 2002, MFSO now has over 4,000
member families. MFSO’s national chapter, Gold Star Families Speak Out includes
families whose loved ones have died as a result of the war in Iraq.

Founded in 1985, Veterans for Peace is a national organization of men and women
veterans of all eras and duty stations spanning the Spanish Civil War (1936-39),
World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other
conflicts cold or hot. It has chapters in nearly every state in the union and
is headquartered in St. Louis, MO. Our collective experience tells us wars are
easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus,
other means of problem solving are necessary. Veterans For Peace is an official
Non- Governmental Organization (NGO) represented at the U.N.

Source URL: http://ivaw.org/node/5003