"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

October 10, 2006

Need a talking point when you discuss why the Iraq War is such a bad idea? Try this:

Health Care Impact of the Iraq War

Stephanie Taylor, an online writer for the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America, reports on a panel at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., yesterday, where a group of experts spoke about the health impact of the Iraq war. Their conclusion: “Devastating.”

Every dollar spent on the war is a dollar less for America’s working families, according to Dr. Barry Levy, co-editor of War and Public Health and past president of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and panelist at the event, sponsored by the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees.

Levy says these are resources badly needed at home. With 300,000 members of the National Guard serving overseas, for instance, these troops aren’t available to keep our borders safe and respond to emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina.

The war in Iraq has now cost U.S. taxpayers more than $332 billion dollars, according to the National Priorities Project. This money could have paid for:

43 million children to attend one year of Head Start;
198 million children to have health insurance for one year;
16 million four-year college scholarships;
3 million additional public housing units; or
5 million more public teachers for America’s schools.

Brooks Sunkett, vice-president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and veteran of the Vietnam War, spoke about the impact of the Iraq war on America’s working families:

"I represent public-sector workers across the country. We’ve seen massive cutbacks in services like day care, care for the elderly and for the disabled. Look at New Orleans—there was an infrastructure that just wasn’t there, that let that happen. The social safety net has been so impaired, it’s almost useless. If we are going to be protected from terrorists, we need the social safety net in place."

Garett Reppenhagen, who served for one year in Iraq as a cavalry scout/sniper with the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, discussed the health impact on the soldiers themselves:

"I wear my dog tags every day because the war at home for our veterans is still going on. Soldiers are coming to Walter Reed Hospital by the busloads. My buddies are at risk of homelessness, suicide. I have three friends who have already been diagnosed with cancer from the depleted uranium we were exposed to. Other friends have vowed never to have children. If we’re not a nation that can afford to take care of our veterans, we’re not a nation that can afford to go to war."

Elizabeth Frederick, whose fiancé served in Iraq and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, talked about the cost of war in her own life. She asked everyone in the audience to take action.

"Go out and talk to the people who support this war. Look them in the eye and say, “Whose loved one will you sacrifice?” Make them give you a name."

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