Commentary: Will America Keep Its Promises to Our Returning Combat Troops?

How the political landscape affects Iraq veterans’ transition back to the U.S.

Posted: 12/15/2011 11:50 AM EST
Barack Obama

By December 31, 2011, the majority of the 142,000 U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq will finally return to the peace and safety of their native land, bringing nine years of U.S. military actions in Iraq to a well-deserved close and presenting thousands of American families with a special gift that many of them will treasure for a lifetime.


Our troops’ withdrawal is the fulfillment of a promise that President Obama made to the nation back in 2007 while on the campaign trail, and in keeping with the agreement that President George Bush, the man who got us in this war in the first place, made with the Iraqis in 2008.

 
While many around the world applaud the President for his actions, some GOP leaders are busy criticizing him for it. Among the GOP critics are people like GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who said that Obama’s “astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq” puts at risk the victories won “through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women." There was no word of what he thought of Bush’s proposal to do the same thing or the fact that 75 percent of Americans approve of the troop withdrawal.


The thing that gets me about the GOP opposition to the withdrawal is their unmitigated gall over the whole issue. It was a Republican administration that sent our troops to Iraq under the utterly false pretense of looking for “weapons of mass destruction” that they knew damn well didn’t exist — the same way they knew that Saddam Hussein had no ties whatsoever to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.


Aside from that, we now have over 100,000 returning war vets, a large number of whom are Black and Latino, who will need jobs and psychological and medical care to transition back into American society successfully. According to reports, many Iraqi veterans suffer from a high divorce rate, drug abuse, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, unemployment, homelessness and various other war-related ills that require serious social programs to treat and cure them so that these gallant service men and women can lead productive lives.

 

Unfortunately the GOP vehemently opposed many of the social programs that some of these vets may need. They oppose the President’s job bill, which would create over a million jobs; they oppose his healthcare bill, which many vets and their families could benefit from, and they are trying their best to eliminate as many social programs as possible.

 

Is this really the way we should treat the men and women who sacrifice so much for our country? I hardly think so.



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