Some leaders in Washington say the country isn't ready for a national event to mark the end of the Iraq war. But patriotic civilians just like you started calling for parades before the war ended in December—and now, they're happening.
From San Antonio to Richmond, civilian leaders in a dozen cities are organizing to welcome home Iraq vets. St. Louis already turned out 100,000 for a parade, memorial and veteran resource fair in January. And later this month, the First Family will add to the momentum hosting a historic White House Dinner for 200 Iraq vets from all 50 states.
But everyone can't go to the White House and a parade isn't nearly enough—it's just a start. Add your name to our petition asking President Obama and U.S. Mayors to coordinate Operation Welcome Home--a National Day of Action for Iraq vets.
On Super Bowl Sunday, over 20,000 Americans signed our petition to make a National Day of Action a reality. Instead of scattered events nationwide, in different cities, on different days, all year long, we want to work together to create one historic day of action: parades, memorials and service fairs to maximize support in cities large and small.
Vietnam Veterans waited until 1985, more than a decade, for our country to recognize their service and offer support. We can't standby as history repeats itself. Our returning veterans need our immediate support to face new battles at home -- against record unemployment, invisible mental health injuries, and bureaucratic red tape around their hard-earned benefits. In the last year, IAVA programs have helped over 100,000 vets go to college on the New GI Bill, provided mental health support to over 50,000 and connected hundreds with employers.
It's time for all of us, from the President to the Pentagon to mayors and ordinary citizens nationwide, to work together to channel America's collective goodwill and support. In a perfect world, every vet could visit the White House for a black-tie dinner and every day would be Veterans Day--that's not possible. But if we stand together now to replicate St. Louis at scale, we've got an unprecedented opportunity to channel America's goodwill and gratitude into something practical and lasting for all our veterans and their families.
Let's work together to make history.
Founder and Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
PS- Want to learn more about our impact nationwide? Get up to speed about IAVA's core programs to support the New Greatest Generation.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans