By HANNAH WOLFE
More than 200 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered outside Washington, D.C., in March to speak out against the U.S. government’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, which has led to the deaths of more than one million Iraqis and 4,000 U.S. soldiers, and has wounded or emotionally damaged countless other people.
One message was loud and clear: the soldiers who have fought and are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are not bad people. Many joined the military thinking they were going to bring freedom to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and save the world from “weapons of mass destruction.”
When they found out that both of these ideas were lies, they felt angry and betrayed.
Many of the soldiers and vets there had joined the military at age 17 or 18, hoping to get money for college. They talked about being lied to by military recruiters, who told them they would not be in combat or that they would receive money to go to college. They talked about getting injured and having to struggle to get medical care.
Phil Aliff, a 21-year-old Iraq veteran who wants to go to college to be a writer, said, “Students and soldiers and vets, we are all affected by this. College tuition is going up. More and more people can’t afford college and have to enlist in the military. The money is all going to the military, instead of to schools and health care. We need to join together to say no to the occupations.”