Lest we forget, today marks the ninth anniversary of the start of our war in Iraq. If you plan on passing by City Hall today, you'll have a vivid reminder of today's important milestone -- 481 pairs of combat boots will be lined up on the seat of our city government's steps, a visual precursor to the afternoon of speeches by vets and their families that has been organized by the Bay Area chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The vets' message is rendered all the more important now that US conflict in Iraq technically ended last December. A US service member commits suicide once every 36 hours, and 223,609 veterans are struggling with possible signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many battle with the after-effects of head trauma, a poorly-understood injury that can lead to serious psychological problems (the suspect in the massacre that took the lives of 16 Afghanis a few weeks ago was a US soldier who suffered from head trauma and multiple re-deployments.)
President Obama has decided that today will be a "Day of Honor" for our veterans. Now might just be a good time to get down to City Hall and hear what the United States citizens most affected by our engagement in the Middle East and elsewhere have to say. Today's speakers at the City Hall demonstration will include Scott Olsen (the vet whose skull was fractured by a police-thrown projectile in an October Occupy Oakland demonstration), Ryan Hollerman (an active-duty soldier), and Paula Santos, whose son commited suicide after coming home from war, in addition to others from Swords to Plowshares and Military Families Speak Out.
Iraq Veterans Against the War press conference and "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit
Press conference: Mon/19 noon, free
Exhibit: Mon/19 9 a.m.-5 p.m., free
One Carlton B. Goodlett Plaza, SF