Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Florida Soldier: "Iraq is not the only war"

Shortly after I launched the Florida Netroots blog I was contacted by an Active Duty Soldier from Walton County, Florida serving in Afghanistan and by someone serving in the Executive Committee of the organization Florida Veterans for Common Sense.

The message: How can we help?

Think about that for a minute. One is currently deployed in a war zone and the other is battling with the treatment of vets here at home and for the safe return of their brother and sisters in arms ... and they want to help us.

To say that I was both humbled and honored would be an understatement.

For this piece, I'm going to focus on the words of the active duty soldier and post a follow-up story on the Veterans group.

Shortly after receiving this offer to help, I notified fellow Netroots members and asked if members wanted to know anything him.

They passed along three questions:

First, what do both active duty military folks and veterans think is the best way to support our troops in Iraq?

The second is how do the veterans feel about the current administrations' pronouncements about supporting our troops versus their actual delivery of services (health care, etc) to veterans?

And how do they feel about the recent vote to continue funding the war?

For the most part, his answers were along the line of: "its not really talked about" and "everyone is more concentrated on the mission."

Then he told us what we really needed to hear:


Every day the media, the politicians and those of us in the blogosphere talk about Iraq. We're so focused on it that when given the opportunity to question a soldier serving in Afghanistan, we asked about Iraq.

He went on to say:

People are getting shot at, dodging IEDs and dying everyday herein Afghanistan, and the American people and the MSM have generally forgotten about us. When we were extended to 15 months, most people I told had no clue, because the media only reported that Soldiers in Iraq would be extended. Everyday someone dies in Iraq it is reported in the MSM ...

But not those who die in Afghanistan. He went on:

This war is just. I implore anyone who disagrees to come to this country and see what we are fighting and how we are helping. However, I believe our continued presence in this country to be more immoral than our presence in Iraq. This may sound confusing, but remember this: There is actually a mission here. There is actually an enemy which we can define. There is a clear goal to the operation. However, we have been here for nearly six years. In six years, a nation with the greatest military capability in the history of the world has not been able to defeat a third world shadow government. This is not to say that the troops on the ground have failed, or that the U.S. is not able to win this war. The problem is that this administration has been distracted by a war created and continued by deceit and pride.

A few days ago, five brave Americans were killed. My reaction was, "and for what?" Why did those men have to die? True, they died fighting a righteous fight, but why are we still fighting it? Why are we still here? Why have we not defeated our enemy here? Why are brave men still dying? Again, because this administration is too eager to save face to commit resources to a just and winnable war.

The most terrible thing is that this is not isolated. This has become the modus operandi for this administration. Resources are committed out of pride to Iraq, so we cannot help victims of national disasters in Louisiana and Kansas. We cannot help our poor because we must give tax breaks to the rich. We cannot aid the sick, because we must aid Big-Rx ... We can not slow the energy crisis or global warming, because we must aid the oil corporations. This administration has a record that is at best immoral and at worst criminal of ignoring big problems that we can actually do something about, in order to protect pride and cronyism.

Iraq is not the only war. Remember our troops in Afghanistan. Hope for their safe return home and take whatever steps you can to make sure that happens.