Yesterday, in our nation’s capitol, Iraq Veterans Against the War’s Operation Recovery Campaign to Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops was launched. This marks the beginning of what will be a long offensive to hold those accountable who are deploying troops who have been traumatized by war.
The first step is raising awareness, and we achieved that with our successful action yesterday. We received a lot of press coverage in mainstream and alternative press, and even made it into the day’s White House press briefing in the following back-and-forth between a reporter and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
Q There’s a large group of veterans who participated in Afghanistan and Iraq and they’re demonstrating today. They’re asking that people with PTSD and traumatic brain injury not be sent back, and they’re saying that this has contributed to quite a large amount of suicides in the military. Is the President aware of this? Is he communicating with them in any way?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know about the protest outside. Obviously TBI — traumatic brain injury — PTSD is something that the President worked on as a member of the Senate. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have been working with veterans, veteran service organizations, along with General Shinseki, around the alarming and high rate of suicides both in theater and back here, and it’s an issue that we can and should take extraordinarily seriously.
We know that combat in both of those theaters puts an enormous strain on individuals, and both those in combat and those coming back ought to have access to every benefit that they deserve and that they’ve earned. We, through the Recovery Act, increased the funding for the VA to historic levels and we will continue to ensure that those that serve have access to the best services.
Q If a soldier says he or she does not feel fit to go back into combat, back into the battlefield, is there any sympathy for that soldier?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, what I just said — obviously that concern can and will be taken seriously. I would point you specifically to DOD about the operational procedure for how that might happen.
Clearly Mr. Gibbs and the White House are far-removed from the consequences of their war policies, or else they would know that the DOD’s operational procedures are the problem!
How it went down
We started the day with a silent memorial at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where we laid flowers to honor those Afghan civilians and U.S. troops who have been traumatized by 9 years of war in Afghanistan. Then we marched 6 miles to Capitol Hill where members of IVAW spoke to journalists about their experiences in combat while coping with trauma. At the Capitol, we read a letter aloud to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and then delivered those letters to their offices.
You can see a short clip of the letter-reading here, where Capitol police attempt to stop member, Jason Hurd, from reading the letter, but he won’t be stopped. Watch the clip–>
Thank you for doing your part!
While we took action in the streets of DC, thousands of supporters like you helped raise awareness in your own communities. Over 440 letters to the editor were sent out to local papers around the country! If you got a Letter to the Editor published, please send us an email (and if possible, a link to the story) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for a thorough media coverage round-up next week, or find information on our website at ivaw.org/operation-recovery.
Thank you for your support!
The Campaign Team
Iraq Veterans Against the War is a 501(c)(3) charity,
and welcomes your tax deductible contributions