The $1 trillion Iraq war has gone from early successes, to the chaos of civil war, to a surge, and now to the draw-down to 50,000 troops. After eight years there has been immense suffering and loss on the part of Iraqi, American, and allied partners. President Obama spoke about the war Tuesday night from the Oval Office. New Jersey veterans, family of the fallen, and those who help returning vets have their opinions.
The President began his speech saying, “Good evening. Tonight I’d like to speak to you about the end of of our combat mission in Iraq.”
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He went on to explain that violence will not necessarily end. Cranbury resident Sue Niederer, who lost her son, Army Lt. Seth Dvorin, to an explosion in February 2004, was quoted by the Star Ledger as saying, “The combat mission is in no way over. There’s 50,000 of our soldiers over there and they have guns.”
The President went on to say, “I’m mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home.” Niederer doesn’t think the U.S. should have been in Iraq in the first place. “For all the loss of lives, what was the benefit? There’s no legitimate government established. It was a waste of human lives. It was a waste of money and resources for this country.”
As a veteran, Robert Andrzejczak doesn’t dwell on losing his left leg while fighting in Iraq. “It’s more about going over there for your buddies and trying to keep them alive than for any political cause.” After being medically discharged, he now lives in Middle Township where he is adjusting to life with a prosthetic leg.
Jack Fanous, executive director of the New Jersey veteran assistance organization G.I. GO Fund, says the question of success in Iraq isn’t up for debate among the troops that he helps transition to civilian life. “They all think the war was worth it, and they’d all go back. They saw the changes in people’s lives. They know they made a difference.”
After eight years of different missions, Obama’s goal is to create a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant country.” He feels this goal is achievable. The true measure of the war, however, is yet to be written. There is no doubt its cost has been high.