22 Feb

The war in Afghanistan has claimed the life of the 1000th U.S. soldier

Overall, with 319 soldiers killed, 2009 proved the most deadly year for U.S. forces, as President Obama shifted thousands of troops into the Afghan theater from Iraq. So far, 54 American soldiers have been killed in 2010.

By comparison to the U.S. toll, 264 coalition troops from the United Kingdom have died since 2001, and 140 Canadian soldiers have died in the fighting.

The 1,000th U.S. soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan was Cpl. Gregory S. Stultz of Brazil, Ind., the Department of Defense said. He was killed in Helmand province “while supporting combat operations.”

American Friends Service Committee

Wage Peace: Afghanistan, a campaign of the American Friends Service Committee

Take Action

Not One More Postcard 2010

To take action, visit our web site to learn more about our postcard campaign, the toolkit for action, email your Representative, and a calendar listing of vigils and actions around the country to draw attention to the human cost of this war.

Dear Friend,

The war in Afghanistan has claimed the life of the 1000th U.S. soldier.  The number of Afghans and Pakistanis killed is many times more and yet unknown.  We mourn the loss of life knowing that more violence will not bring peace. This war must end.

Please see our calendar of vigils to mark this terrible milestone.

By year’s end, there will be 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.  At one million dollars per soldier for deployment, we will be spending in excess of $100 billion a year, on military solutions.

The U.S. could more productively support visions for peace that exist everywhere in Afghanistan. Only support of peacebuilding efforts will allow Afghans to begin the hard work of reconciliation.

For example U.S. funds would be better spent assisting and strengthening Afghan-led institutions necessary to create the stability and structures needed to heal from so many years of violence.

We could be investing in education by guaranteeing teacher salaries, supporting efforts for teacher training – by Afghans – and releasing funds to ensure school construction.  Currently almost half of all schools in Afghanistan don’t have buildings.

Changing the nature of the U.S. investment in Afghanistan can bring stability. But it will require a long-term commitment to sustained and transparent financial and technical support.

It is a path that can end the unnecessary deaths on all sides.

It is also the path to peace.

Wage Peace,
Mary Zerkel and Peter Lems

PS:  On Wednesday, February 24, we will have an open conference call with Zia Mian. He will explain the relationship between the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, how they relate to the decades old India-Pakistan conflict, the roles of the United States, and how to move toward a comprehensive peace settlement. A recording will be available online afterward for those who cannot make the call.

Additional steps:

Please contact your Representatives to let them know that you care about what happens in Afghanistan and want them to take action. We’ve pasted some talking points at the action center. Congressional offices pay much more attention to individualized messages than form letters, so please add your own thoughts!

Forward this message to your friends.Help support AFSC’s worldwide work for peace, justice and human dignity. Make a donation today.

American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102



Gold Star Mom Speaks Out

“1000 was too many in Iraq and 1000 is too many in Afghanistan.  It’s time to bring the troops home.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Speaking out…about the Iraq war, about life as a Gold Star Mom, and whatever is on my mind, because I can.

Numbers take on different significance to different people.  A number, afterall is relative.  To some, $100 could be their Starbucks budget for the month, to others, $100 could mean they feed their children everyday, or not.

Milestone numbers are also relative and are especially hard for those directly involved.  If you had a loved one deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since October 2001, 1000 US deaths in Afghanistan is significant,  if not, this news will not likely land on your radar.   The deployments are minutes and days and weeks and months of worry.  Those whose loved ones came home, they may think “by the grace of God my loved one came home”.  For those of us whose loved one did not come home, it doesn’t matter if it is the 1000th death, or the 1st or the 818th.  Each announced casualty is painful as we relive the day we received our news.

Some will point out that the 1000th US casualty didn’t occur in Iraq until 18 months after the March 2003 invasion.  In comparison, it has taken 9 and 1/2 years in Afghanistan.  Some will say, “neither number is very big, look at how many died in WWII or Vietnam.”  But ask any family member or friend of the nearly 5400 US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I suspect, an answer often heard would be “any number more than zero was too many”.  For that matter, ask any of the loved ones of the Coalition casualties or the Iraqi or Afghanistan civilian casualties.  If you’ve lost a loved one to war, especially a war that you didn’t support, 1 is really the only number that matters; 1 is the significant number.

I am not far from 6 years when I got the knock on the door.  I am nearly 6 years away from the initial shock and numbness from receiving the news that my only child was never coming home.  I wouldn’t wish this unimaginable life on anyone.  For those families who are getting the devastating news now, my thoughts are with them.  How their lives will turn upside down and inside out in one second.  The second before the knock on the door, life was normal.  They were baking, or working, or getting ready to go to bed or starting their day and that knock changes everything. Everything! Today, as posted the 1000th US casualty in Afghanistan, we are painfully aware that another family has received the news.

This traumatic event will result in some family members suffering from PTSD or secondary PTSD and we will suffer the sleeplessness and the nightmares and feelings of intense distress.   Our trauma is, of course, different than those in combat, but we will suffer, too.  Burying a child is not what nature intended, the concept so foreign that there is not a word for a parent whose child has died.  Children who lose their parents are orphans, husbands who lose their wives are widowers, and wives who lose their husbands are called widows.  And losing a child is too painful to even assign a word.

On the eve of this terrible milestone death, Bloomberg reported that General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East and Central Asia, said U.S. losses in Afghanistan will be “tough” and the U.S. presence there is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. I wonder what “tough” means in numbers.

At this 1000 casualty milestone, take a minute to think of the parents and the siblings, the children, and the friends. Each one of these young men and women was loved, every life unfulfilled, every promise for the future is dashed.  But mostly, these young men and women stepped forward to serve their country at a time when so many others choose to stay behind.  Regardless of your feelings about these wars, we must never forget the sacrifice and we must never forget the human cost of war.

1000 was too many in Iraq and 1000 is too many in Afghanistan.  It’s time to bring the troops home.

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