Nationwide - As the nation awaits confirmation from the Pentagon of the 5,000th death of a U.S. service member in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, members of Military Families Speak Out are mourning the dead and calling on President Obama to honor the sacrifices of these service members and their families and honor all of those who serve by acting swiftly to end both wars.
Warren Henthorn of Choctaw, OK, the father of Army Spc. Jeffrey Henthorn who died in Iraq on Feb 8, 2005, says:
"Way too many have died on all sides of these wars. If I remember correctly, President Obama won the Democratic nomination based on the promise to end the war in Iraq. But, between Iraq and Afghanistan, at the end of this year we will actually have more troops in harm's way then we did at the height of the 'surge.' That's just as bad as we had it under President Bush. These wars now belong to President Obama. The blood is on his hands."
Henthorn is a member of Gold Star Families Speak Out, a national chapter of Military Families Speak Out whose loved ones died a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jane Bright of West Hills, CA, the mother of Sgt. Evan Aschraft who was killed at the perimeter of an oil refinery in Iraq on July 24, 2003, is also a member of Gold Star Families Speak Out. She says:
"My son was the 249th U.S. service member killed in Iraq - it's hard to believe that 5,000 of our troops have already died in Iraq and Afghanistan. How many more? We need to bring all our troops home from these wars and we need to take care of our veterans when they return home, giving them the medical and psychological care and treatment they need and deserve."
Maggie Pondolfino, a member of Military Families Speak Out from Portland, OR has been nervously watching the death toll in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rise as her son awaits a deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army:
"It's been over a year since my only son returned from a 14 month deployment to Iraq. Over a year since I was immobilized with dread at every unexpected knock on my door and every unfamiliar van parked in front of my house. Daily, I obsessively checked the Department of Defense casualty list. Too many times the names were close to home...someone from our state, or even someone from his platoon," says Pondolfino. "I imagined the other mothers' grief and wondered would I be able to endure it? Then I had a year of relative calm. I even celebrated a new administration and momentarily experienced the hope that seemed to engulf the country. "Now as the nation braces for the news of the confirmation of the 5,000th death of a U.S. service member in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the administration that briefly gave me new hope prepares to send my son to another war with no clear mission and no exit strategy. And how do I prepare? How do I prepare for another year of going through the motions of living, while wondering if he will come home? If he does will he have to fight a war within himself? If he does not come home, my darling boy with his loving heart and keen intellect will have died for nothing. I know that no good will come from continuing the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, just more heartbreak, sorrow, and tragedy. When will we ever learn?"
Members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interview.
Military Families Speak Out is a national organization of over 4,000 military families working to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and secure the care that our troops, Veterans, and military families need to recover from the impact of those wars on our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Gold Star Families Speak Out is a national chapter of Military Families Speak Out with over 150 families whose loved ones died a result of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.