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Author: TriSec    Date: 12/13/2011 11:20:21

Good Morning.

Today is our 3,191st day in Iraq and our 3,719th day in Afghanistan.

We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 4483
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4344
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3624
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 255
Since Operation New Dawn: 55

Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 319
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,849
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 974
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,487
Journalists - Iraq : 348
Academics Killed - Iraq: 448

We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 291, 111, 250, 000 .00

Well, for the first time in what seems like months, I don't have anything overly relevant squirreled away. So...we'll turn to our old friends at IAVA and see what's happening in the veteran's community as we near the holidays.

Paul has a rather lengthy post about the families of our servicemen...as the saying goes, Service member enlist...their families are drafted.

“Service members enlist. Their families are drafted.”

That familiar refrain has been uttered time and time again on American military bases across the globe during these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s a lot of truth found in it, and such a reality rarely ends when a service member returns home.

Take Marine Sergeant Stephen Inman and his wife Bethany, for example. They’ve both sacrificed proudly for our country through Stephen’s three deployments – two tours in Iraq and his most recent tour to Afghanistan. A month before Stephen left for his last deployment, the Inmans found out they were expecting their first baby. The couple thought Stephen might be able to return early to witness the birth, but deployment needs dictated otherwise. As a result, Bethany gave birth to their daughter, Khloe Rae, without Stephen at her side. Though it had been the circumstances of the situation, not a personal choice, Stephen blamed himself for being away at war when Khloe was born. Meanwhile, back home Bethany dealt with all the labors of new parenthood alone, juggling the mortgage, the car payments and bouts of anxiety and depression.

The Inmans’ are just one couple of millions who have faced the challenges of service. Since 9/11, over 3 million Americans have had a spouse or parent deploy in these wars. As the Iraq war ends, this small minority is exactly why IAVA is launching a new program for military families inspired by the findings in our latest issue report Unsung Heroes: Military Families After Ten Years of War. Be the first to read it online and share it with your own friends and family.

The report findings should be a gut-check for every American heading home to their own families this holiday season. For ten years, through two of the longest wars in American history, military families have braved unique challenges with the same strength and resilience as their loved ones fighting overseas. But the strain of multiple deployments and the economic crisis are taking a heavy toll.

Unlike the World War II generation that rallied around those on the home front, American society nowadays is generally clueless about the sacrifices these families face. Service members of this generation are deploying two, three, even four times, and the abnormal has become normal for their families. As a result, a third of military spouses whose partners deployed were diagnosed with anxiety, depression, sleeping problems and other mental disorders according to a recent study. Meanwhile, their kids are also feeling the pressure of frequent moves and households managed by single parents. A 2009 study found that one-third of children between ages five and twelve who experienced parental deployment had a high likelihood of developing social and psychological problems.

If the emotional toll of war and separation isn’t enough on a family, the economic crisis at home is causing more stress. As the U.S. military surged in Iraq, foreclosures in military communities back home spiked by 32 percent between 2008 and 2010. Over 20,000 service members lost their homes to foreclosure last year alone. And, according to the latest figures, over 26 percent of military spouses were unemployed in June – the national average was 9.2 percent.

As Congruss winds down for the year, there's little news on the legislative front. But that doesn't stop the goings-on in Washington. With little more than two weeks left in Iraq, the next phase of our involvement is set to begin. With that in mind, the Iraqi Prime Minister was in Washington to meet with President Obama. Although there is some posturing, it might be best if we just forget it and put the entire sorry affair behind us.

WASHINGTON -- Eager to put the long and divisive Iraq war to rest, President Barack Obama declared Monday "those days are over" with the last American troops heading home, but he pledged the U.S. would remain committed to the fledgling government they leave behind. He and Iraq's leader somberly saluted America's war dead at Arlington National Cemetery.

"A war is ending," the president said, standing with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House. U.S. troops are leaving "with honor and with their heads held high," said Obama, who strongly opposed the war as a candidate for the White House.

The last American troops are to be out of Iraq by Dec. 31. Thousands of others are still in Afghanistan.

Just 6,000 remain in Iraq, down from 170,000 at the war's peak in 2007.

The withdrawal will cap a war in which nearly 4,500 Americans were killed, about 32,000 were wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars were spent and the American political debate was consumed until economic woes brought attention back home.

Obama had said weeks ago that he was pulling all troops by year's end, leaving his appearance with al-Maliki to focus instead on what's next -- a relationship both leaders described as rich in shared interests, from education to oil, politics to security.

To the Iraqi people, who still face massive challenges in rebuilding a society ripped apart by nearly nine years of war, Obama said: "You will not stand alone."

The U.S., in fact, needs the help of Iraq in dealing with the volatile Middle East and two of neighbors in particular, Iran and Syria. In getting out of Iraq, Obama emphasized that "our strong presence in the Middle East endures" and the U.S. won't soften in its defense of its interests.

In the midst of a re-election run, Obama is using the war's end to both honor the military's sacrifice and to remind the nation the unpopular war is ending on his watch. He is to deliver his war-is-over message in TV interviews today and then again on Wednesday in remarks to troops at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Obama opposed the war from the start and eventually rode that stand to the White House.

On Monday, speaking as a commander in chief, Obama put the focus on Iraq's future.

"I think history will judge the original decision to go into Iraq," Obama said. What's clear, he added, is that because of the huge sacrifices by American soldiers and civilians and the courage of the Iraqi people, "we have now achieved an Iraq that is self-governing, that is inclusive and that has enormous potential."

Said al-Maliki: "Anyone who observes the nature of the relationship between the two countries will say that the relationship will not end with the departure of the last American soldier."

Otherwise...it's blessedly quiet this week. I think we'll leave it at that.

64 comments (Latest Comment: 12/14/2011 01:38:48 by BobR)
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