Have IAVA veterans turned their back on their country? Four IAVA members and Iraq War veterans
respond to an angry email.
Posted by IAVA Staff on August 24
The following email was sent to the IAVA general email account (firstname.lastname@example.org). Four IAVA members, all Iraq war combat veterans, took the time to respond. Their comments are below. What do you think? Tell us at email@example.com.
I am more and more disappointed in this country every day. We are in the midst of a global war on terror, but groups like you and other East Coast Liberals have nothing better to do than criticize our elected leaders who are hard at work protecting us from Islamic terror! When even soldiers turn against their own country I don't know what this world is coming to. For shame!
From Iraq Veteran Jeremy Lewis:
I am more disappointed in this country every day myself. When it has become unpatriotic to demand accountability from the people in charge. When we never demand answers to the hard questions. When our leaders override the people that know best on how to fight a war, and use the war for political gain. When the President makes statements like "Bring 'Em On," knowing full well that he is NOT the one that they will be bringing it on to. When soldiers are sent into harms way without the proper equipment. When contractors overcharge the Army , or provide the troops with water that is full of dangerous bacteria . And those "Leaders" will not pass legislation that calls for oversight to hold them accountable. Couple this with losing 9 billion dollars of OUR money , and not even bothering to look for it!
What else makes me ashamed? When the VA has their budget cut to pay for tax cuts for the top 1% of the population. When troops are being sent back to Iraq for a 3rd time, because most of the people who support this war are not willing to go fight and die in it. Much less send their kids off to die in it. When the names of the dead soldiers are relegated to the back pages of most papers, while Tom Cruise gets the front page. I am ashamed that wounded veterans have to wait months to be seen at a VA hospital because our leaders have not made the VA a priority.
What makes me even more ashamed, is that so many people have willfully surrendered the rights under the Constitution for the false pretense of fighting terror. When they can come in and search your home, take evidence and never tell you that they were even there. When we expect the government to spy on their own citizens, and some people think that this is a good thing. Our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves when they see what we have done with the Constitution these days.
I may be an "East Coast Liberal" to you, but this liberal spent 23 years in the military. Including tours in Bosnia and Iraq. As a soldier in Iraq, I have seen things that you cannot dream of. I have lived under conditions that you never could comprehend. I've seen the war first hand, and right in from of me. Maybe that is why I see things differently than you do, in your sheltered protected world. I was also in NYC on 9/12/01. And one thing I do know is that there were no Iraqis on those planes.
"Those who sacrifice liberty for security will receive neither and deserve none."
From Iraq veteran Bobby Yen:
Let me attempt to restrain my anger at letters like these, although forgive me if I come across as a little... vexed. So as to restrain myself and keep myself focused, let me concentrate on each line of this letter and the logical fallacies that back it.
"I am more and more disappointed in this country every day." It is certainly well within your right to hold an opinion. I, too, am more and more disappointed in this country every day. When I was in Iraq, and we realized we weren't going to find WMD's; when we stopped wearing gas masks along with our armor because the odds of someone hitting us with Anthrax were deemed miniscule, when I had been to the funeral of enough fellow soldiers for a mission that changed constantly and no one could quite explain to me, when Bush was re-elected and we were having cars explode at our gate almost daily, I was disappointed with my country. Although I feel maybe, just maybe, it's finally taking a turn for the better.
"We are in the midst of a global war on terror," Yes we are. A war which we are inflaming with our actions in the Middle East. I assure you, we're not winning or even really fighting the war by bringing "stability" to a country which we, by UN standards, illegally invaded. We're not winning the war by fracturing the non-terrorist countries by going it alone and ignoring the UN and world consideration. All of these choices by our reigning government. The situation SHOULD be countries vs. terrorists, but because of the choice to invade Iraq without waiting for a global consensus, it's now America and Allies vs. the World vs. Terrorists. But I digress.
"... but groups like you and other East Coast Liberals..." I'm a Californian. And, as a reserve unit, all the other soldiers in my unit are Californians. You'll find that although IAVA is based in NY, its members are from all over America.
"... have nothing better to do than criticize our elected leaders who are hard at work protecting us from Islamic terror!" ... I feel I should chop this part of the sentence into even smaller parts to analyze the wrongness involved, but...
Hard at work? This president has taken an amazing amount of vacation days since being in office. If he had been "hard at work" protecting our country, perhaps 9/11 wouldn't have happened? It's all very fine and dandy to jump to attention after the fact, but an ounce of preparation prevents a pound of pain.
Criticizing our elected leaders is a pretty good thing to do when they do the wrong thing. That's what keeps our "democracy" from being a "benign dictatorship". And just because he was democratically elected doesn't mean that we as individuals elected him. Obviously, as democracy is rule by the majority, be that majority %99, or %50.01 percent. He was also elected as a whole, not for his individual principles, as some people voted for him to save family values/oppress gays, save babies/take away civil liberties, or a variety of other reasons. But if people have "nothing better to do" than keep our government in check, god bless 'em.
I'll take only the slightest offense at the term "Islamic terror". I fought for freedom, so to speak, but I certainly didn't fight for Christianity. I didn't even fight for God. I am an atheist/agnostic. I fought for the ideals of freedom and compassion. I fought for the ideals of democracy and liberty. Our enemies at this time happen to align on the Islamic axis. However, I prefer the idea that we are fighting "terrorists". We have many Islamic countries in alliance with us against the terrorists. If we have to point out a religion, at least have the dignity to use the term "extremists". This is not a war of religion, and let's remember that. It's a pet peeve of mine, but let me put it this way: I'm not white, not Christian, but I am a combat veteran and %100 American.
"When even soldiers turn against their own country I don't know what this world is coming to. For shame!"
Finally, the end of this long tirade... both hers and my own ;) A soldier turning against his country is that soldier in the 101st who threw a grenade into a tent. Or the DC sniper. A soldier holding a differing opinion from you or the reigning government and demonstrating or acting on that opinion in a peaceable manner is called freedom of speech, and is an inherent part of our country. When dissention and freedom of speech isn't allowed, then we have despotism. What this world is coming to? Hard-headed people who think that we blindly need to follow the party line. People who can't distinguish the difference between our soldiers and the wars they fight in, our country and the current political party that runs it, a religion and terrorism, and freedom of speech and being a traitor.
But hey, all that's just my opinion. And if stating it means that I've "turned against my country", I guess this isn't the America I went to war for.
From Perry Jefferies:
Ms. Oberman - Don't be disappointed in this country. I believe it is truly the best in the world. But that doesn't mean that I find it perfect or without room for improvement. I feel that our troops have earned the right to have a voice in the decisions made by this country. Criticism of elected leaders is not ‘turning against one's own country' - it is free speech exercised in a democracy and I am darn proud to honor the sacrifices of those who fought for that right.
From Iraq veteran Greg Papadatos:
I'm a member of the IAVA. You say that we are "East Coast Liberals." Are there any "Liberals" on the West Coast? How about in Illinois? Thomas Jefferson was a liberal, you know. So was Benjamin Franklin. And John Adams. And Thomas Paine. You could look it up.
As for the so-called "War On Terror": well I, for one, would prefer that we win this war. I have already done my part to make that happen, by serving in Iraq as a combat medic in an infantry unit. I'm afraid, however, that our elected leaders are not prosecuting this war properly, and that we will lose this war if they don't get their act together.
Have you been to Iraq, Ms. Oberman? Please consider the possibility that we soldiers, who have been there, might actually know what the situation "on the ground" over there really is.
So, let's see: You think I don't have anything better to do? Well, I'm trying to prevent my country from losing a war. No, I guess I don't have anything better to do.
And as for doing one's part: exactly what have you, Janet Oberman, done to help America win this war? Besides writing your e-mail to the IAVA, that is. Buying a magnetic bumper sticker of a yellow ribbon doesn't count. What have you contributed to this fight?
From Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Mike Krause:
First off, allow me to thank you for your concern regarding the current state of America and the War On Terror. The fact you took the time to write the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, even with negative feedback, represents an exponentially greater effort than most Americans are willing to consider.
Unfortunately, you have clearly misconstrued some key features of what IAVA is about. In your letter, you state the following:
"We are in the midst of a global war on terror, but groups like you and other East Coast Liberals have nothing better to do than criticize our elected leaders who are hard at work protecting us from Islamic terror"
A cursory reading of the IAVA mission statement and founding principles will reveal that IAVA is a non-partisan organization, not an establishment of "East Coast Liberals". The members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are just that...Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
We are Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen who have seen the horror of war and the price of miscalculation. We have driven unarmored vehicles on the deadly roads of Iraq. We have paid out of our pockets for lifesaving equipment in Afghanistan. These experiences left us with a desire to come home and hold our government accountable for the treatment, equipping and utilization of our Nation's most precious commodity: the men and women who protect it.
IAVA does not seek to attack or discredit any policymaker or elected leader based on partisan alliegance or political motive. We seek to speak truth to power, and in doing so, ensure that our nation's Armed Forces are given a clear mission (with attainable goals and an exit strategy), be properly trained for the tasks it is given, and not be overextended and undermanned.
Perhaps most jarring is your statement that "When even soldiers turn against their own country I don't know what this world is coming to."
Ma'am, there has been no "turning against our country." The members of IAVA possess an appreciation for freedom and our nation that most will never know. With that appreciation comes the responsibility to tell our stories to America. We do this not for vanity or accolades, but so that our government and our people will fully appreciate the ramifications of their decisions and the challenges that face our Iraq and Afghanstan veterans.
Members of our organization feel many things, Mrs. Oberman: Pride in our service, warmth in the memory of smiling Iraqi children, and pain at the sight of our fallen comrades. We feel determined to connect the public with those who have fought, and we feel responsible to hold the government accountable.
But we do not, and never will, feel shame, ma'am. Our pride is in the battles we have fought in foreign lands, and the battle for truth we fight today in the halls of American power; battles to preserve, protect and enrich the nation we have so sacrificially defended.
Michael Thomas Krause II
Former Sergeant, U.S. Army
Veteran, Operation Enduring Freedom (2002)
Operation Iraqi Freedom I (2003-4)
Operation Iraqi Freedom III (2004-5)
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