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Appeal to American GIs from American Veterans
Antiwar Internationalist Movement - Greece - 20.03.2003 17:35

The attack against Iraq has started. Bush and his allies will spread death and horror among the Iraqi population. However, not all Americans do support their government's actions. An American Vietnam Veteran visited Greece last month. After his visit the American groups Veterans for Peace and Citizen Soldier formed an appeal to American GIs serving in Europe. You are all prompted to distribute it.

Appeal to American GIs

We are veterans of all America's wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the First Gulf War, who oppose the invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces, with or without the approval of the U.N. Security Council. We don't believe our country should use force to resolve the problems of the world. We advocate peaceful alternatives to conflict through respect for world opinion and adherence to international law.

We believe that the case made for achieving a regime change in Iraq by military means is not convincing. There are many tyrants in the world whose people suffer under repressive governments. Many of these dictators enjoy the support and encouragement of the U.S. government. Many have weapons of mass destruction. Based on these criteria, who should the American military attack next, Saudi Arabia, a country whose record of human rights violations is at least as dismal as Saddam's?

As for the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, few, if any remain according to successive reports of U.N. inspectors over the past ten years. But if Saddam possesses such weapons, wouldn't he likely use them against our invading forces? The release of chemical and biological agents on the battlefield would have potentially devastating effects on the American fighting men and women who would experience untold suffering, as would potentially tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.

Most of our members are veterans of Vietnam and the Gulf War, and we can guarantee you that, for a soldier, war doesn't end when he or she departs the battle zone. The war comes home with you, and can have a negative impact on your physical and psychological health for the rest of your lives. You would be well advised to secure copies of all your medical and personnel files prior to separation to establish a pre-enlistment base line for your health, and to document your presence in any war or training zone where you might have been exposed to toxic materials that can lead to post-service disabilities.

The rates of suicide, homelessness, and alcoholism among Vietnam vets has soared way above the norms afflicting the general population. 15% of all Vietnam veterans suffer from a debilitating emotional disorder known as PTSD. The percentages climb even higher, when only combat veterans are considered. Tens of thousands of Vietnam vets were exposed to poisonous herbicides, like Agent Orange, a chemical agent used to defoliate the thick jungle cover of Vietnam. The effects of exposure to these agents is well known in communities and veterans organizations throughout the U.S., yet, for most veterans, there are no cures and only inadequate treatment.

In the case of the Gulf War vets, the VA has found in the last year that they were twice as likely to suffer from deadly ALF (Lou Gehrig's disease) as vets who weren't sent to the Gulf war zone. Today, one in four Gulf War veterans receive VA disability, a record number for veterans of all wars. And you should also be aware that the same radioactive residue from spent depleted uranium munitions that may be a major cause of the Gulf War vets' illnesses remains active in the desert battlefields which many U.S. soldier will have to pass through en route to Baghdad.

All of these post war problems represent the hidden cost of war, a reality that doesn't appear in your enlistment contract We hope you will be not be subject to the same post war maladies as many of us have been. The best way to protect members of the military from such misfortunes of war would be not to send them into battle unless it is absolutely necessary to defend our legitimate interests, and ourselves and only when we have the full backing of the American people and unambiguous support from the international community. The planned invasion of Iraq satisfies neither of these conditions.


Statement endorsed by Citizen Soldier and Vets For Peace

- E-Mail: antiwargr@yahoo.gr Website: http://www.geocities.com/antiwargr/
 

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