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Reaching Out to Returning Veterans

by Charley James --

Since neither the Pentagon nor the Veterans Administration seems to show much real interest in the plight of returning Afghan and Iraqi vets beyond a few discredited talking points spouted during interviews, organizations such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are taking the lead.

Returning Veteran

Returning Veteran

Knowing that upwards of three hundred thousand veterans of Bush’s war fever are returning with unseen emotional wounds, IAWA has teamed up with several other similar groups, ad agency giant BBDO, and the AdCouncil to produce a series of television spots that both enlighten the public and inform veterans of help that is available to them.

Many returning vets report feeling isolated with no one to talk to since their families don’t understand what soldiers went through in country and VA waiting lists are criminal. The first ad in the series highlights the plight of Bryan Adams. According to Bob Herbert, who writes about the issue in his column in today’s New York Times, Bryan was an Army sniper in Iraq for one year in 2005. He was shot in the leg and hand during a firefight, and he saw and did things that he was less than anxious to talk about when he came home.

This campaign is titled Alone, focusing on the isolation far too many veterans feel when they return to the US. The television and print ads encourage veterans to visit, a place where they can share their experiences with other vets. (The picture here is from the Community of Veterans site.)

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Bush committed two significant crimes when he invaded Iraq: The first was the destruction of the country and the administration’s subsequent lack of any serious effort to rebuild the nation; the second was the destruction wreaked on the men and women who fought in the illegal war and then ignoring their problems once they made it home.

Hopefully, the Obama administration will pay serious attention to this issue because combat does terrible things to people. “Nobody can cross this river without getting wet,” Paul Reickhoff, IAVA’s executive director, says in describing the impact of repeated tours on all vets.

It will help if people write or call local stations and newspapers urging them to run the advertising. If broadcasters and publishers really do "support the troops" as much as they say they do, then running the ads is a no brainer.

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

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