Here are some numbers to remember this Memorial Day: Although only 1 percent of Americans have served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, former service members represent 20 percent of suicides in the United States — 18 veterans kill themselves everyday. Close to a million veterans currently have pending disability claims.
Christian Science Monitor reports: Despite the end of the Iraq war and the scheduled drawdown in Afghanistan, this Memorial Day arrives against a backdrop of deepening – and some say more troublesome – antiwar sentiment among military veterans.
One of the most vivid and replayed images of protesters at the NATO summit last weekend in Chicago was a group of some 40 vets lined up to toss their war medals over the chain link fence to protest what former naval officer Leah Bolger calls “the illegal wars of both NATO and America.”
According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 33 percent of post-9/11 veterans say that neither the war in Iraq nor in Afghanistan “were worth the cost,” and this among a highly motivated cohort who chose to serve.
What this means, says retired US Army Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from a State Department post in 2006 over US policies in Iraq, is that there is a widening gap between the government, military policies, and the soldiers that carry them out.
“Military personnel know America will always have a military, but there is growing concern over the way it is being used,” says the 29-year veteran, adding that an increasing list of concerns include “the use of torture, illegal detentions, and both soldiers and the public being lied to about the actual reasons for going into combat.”