Active soldiers support
U.S. withdrawal from Iraq
Aaron Glantz, UN journal Terra Viva, 27 October 2006
SAN FRANCISCO, California, Oct 26 (IPS) - For the first time since the
U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, active duty members of the military are
asking members of Congress to end the occupation of Iraq and bring U.S.
soldiers home. More than 100 soldiers announced Wednesday that they are
seeking protection under the Military Whistle Blower Protection Act (DOD
to file a protected communication to Congress without fear of reprisal.
Among them is Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, who had to leave his base in the
state of Virginia and change into civilian clothes to take part in a
"The discussion needs to shift from whether to stay or get out to how best
to get out," he told reporters. Hutto said he had doubts about the war
while his aircraft carrier battle group was bombing Iraq from the Persian
Gulf, but only decided to come forward pub-licly after an old professor of
his from Howard University sent him a book published in 1975 called
"Soldiers in Revolt", which documents rank and file soldiers' resistance
to the Vietnam war.
"Iraq, just like Vietnam, is a war that's not about a real threat to the
security of America," he said. "We say it's time to step out and say that.
To our political leaders and policymakers we say the occupation has to
come to an end."
The message that Hutto and other troops are sending to their congressional
representatives is brief and to the point. "As a patriotic American proud
to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders
in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military
forces and bases from Iraq," it says. "Staying in Iraq will not work and
is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home." The 100
active duty soldiers who are formally appealing for redress join an
increasing number of veterans of the Iraq war calling for a U.S.
"Normally the military and military families lean conservative, especially
in a time of war, so to see these kinds of activities is very telling
about the situation we're in now," said Tim Goodrich, a former Air Force
pilot from Buffalo, New York who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Goodrich, along with other disenchanted veterans, has formed a political
action committee called Iraq Veterans for Progress. "We support candidates
who want to end the war against their opponents who are allied with the
George W. Bush administration's strategy of 'stay the course' and we help
them win," he told IPS.
"We help them win by sending them unemployed Iraq veterans to campaign for
them. We pay their salary and help get our message out." One reason for
the rise in discontent is the high percentage of veterans of Iraq and
Afghanistan who return from the warwith serious injuries. According to
documents obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington
University, 25 percent of veterans of the "global war on terror" have
filed disability compensation and pension benefit claims with the Veterans
One is a Jul. 20, 2006 document titled "Compensation and Pension Benefit
Activity Among Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism", which shows that
152,669 veterans filed disability claims after fighting in Iraq or
Afghanistan. Of the more than 100,000 claims granted, Veterans
Administration records show at least 1,502 veterans have been compensated
as 100 percent disabled.
The numbers hardly surprise Adele Kubein, a graduate student in a teaching
position at Oregon State University and a member of the group
Military Families Speak Out. Her daughter Makesha, a member of the Oregon
National Guard, was blown out of her helicopter in Iraq. "Her leg was
shattered and she was kept in combat two more months after that with a
shattered leg," Kubein told IPS. "She was eventually medically evacuated
out and she was held on a base in Colorado interminably. They were not
going to release her because there was no plan in place for medical
assistance for National Guard mem-bers.
They were threatening to release her from the military without further
medical care." Kubein said she contacted her congressman, Democrat Peter
DeFazio, and explained her daughter's situation. DeFazio then took the
floor of the House and demanded she be returned home.
"At this point all politicians like to jump on the bandwagon for
individual troop issues," she said. "They like to say that by doing that
they are supporting the troops. What we are trying to say to Congress
entails more than one than helping one of them at a time. Supporting the
troops is to bring them home."
"My daughter will never again be able to walk around the block without
excruciating pain," she said. "I think about the [budget] cuts the Bush
administration is making in Veterans Affairs. This is a legacy that we are
going to have to bear and I hope that every time an American sees a
disabled veteran they realise that we are all complicit in what happened
to our troops."