For Immediate Release
Afghanistan & Iraq Vets Call for an End to Deployment of Traumatized Troops
Veterans launch historic campaign on 9 year anniversary of Afghanistan War
WASHINGTON - October 7th marks the 9-year anniversary of the Afghanistan War, the longest ongoing war in U.S. history. Pressure from fighting two wars has put enormous strain on U.S. troops, with multiple deployments leading to an explosion of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD makes service members six times more likely to commit suicide. Instead of being treated, troops are often redeployed to combat while still suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma. Officials recognize that suicides and violent crimes are on the rise, with four decorated combat vets killing themselves at Ft. Hood in one week. "The emergency issue for me right now is the suicide issue," said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking person in the U.S. armed forces.
WHAT: Afghanistan & Iraq veterans will meet at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and embark on a six-mile march to Capitol Hill to announce the launch of Iraq Veterans Against the War's first veteran-led campaign - Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops. Service members will testify about their experiences being redeployed while traumatized. A letter will be read publicly and delivered to government and military officials requesting an end to the deployment of traumatized troops. Veterans will voice opposition to the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
WHO: Iraq Veterans Against the War (Afghanistan & Iraq vets), Ethan McCord of Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video, Civilian Soldier Alliance, Military Families Speak Out
WHEN/WHERE: Thursday, October 7th, 2010
10:15 Meet at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Ave NW, Washington DC 20307
10:45 March begins
1:30 Press conference at Delaware Ave. NE and C St. NE 20510
WHY: Multiple deployments cause PTSD and increased incidents of suicides and violent crimes among service members, exemplified by the recent Ft. Hood suicides and twelve soldiers in Afghanistan who formed a "kill team" targeting civilians and collecting body parts as trophies. The occupations carry high human costs at home and abroad, while draining vast resources from American taxpayers during a recession. Furthermore, the strategy and objectives of the Afghanistan War remain questionable. Opposition to the occupations is growing within the military.
"I was denied treatment for the mental and physical wounds I sustained in battle, like so many others," says Ethan McCord, a veteran whose unit was captured in the "Collateral Murder" video distributed by Wikileaks. "IVAW's campaign is critical for soldiers because we are asserting our right to heal. Now, the government has a choice - will it recognize our right to heal, or deny it?"
VISUALS: Veterans marching, uniforms, banners, signs, press conference, Walter Reed
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Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy group of veterans and active-duty U.S. military personnel who have served since September 11, 2001. IVAW’s Right to Heal Initiative is focused on holding the U.S. government accountable for human right violations of the health of Iraqis, Afghans and U.S. veterans. IVAW currently has over 2,500 members in fifty states, as well as in Canada, Europe, and Afghanistan.