During the past month I worked with staff and veterans at the American Lake VA Medical Center in Tacoma. Although it is important to reach out and honor our veterans every day, it is especially important on Veterans Day.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reports since 9/11/2001, over 2.6 million veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of these combat veterans, it is estimated over one million returned home with at least one service-related disability or injury.
In the early years of the Iraq War, during a period when I served 25 months in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, nearly two thousand fellow U.S. and Coalition Forces lost their lives in Iraq.
During the entirety of combat operations—spanning between 2003 and 2011—a total of 4,478 US service members died in the Iraq Theatre of Operations (as reported by DoD). Nine of these service members were soldiers in my unit:
- CPL Carrie French, 19
- SGT John Ogburn III, 45
- SSG Kevin Davis, 41
- SFC Mark Warren, 44
- SGT Paul Thomason, 37
- SFC Robbie McNary, 42
- SFC Ronald Wood, 28
- SGT Travis Arndt, 23
- SSG Virgil Case, 37
Additionally, an unusually high percentage of veterans have died since returning home, many as a result of stateside drug overdoses, suicides and vehicle crashes. On Veterans Day it is important to reflect on the price and sacrifice of war and to honor our veterans.
~ Darryl WrightCaptain, US Army Snoqualmie