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Des Moines Register: Ex-Marine In D.M.; He Leads Biden's Vetterans Committee

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Des Moines Register: Ex-Marine in D.M.; he leads Biden's veterans committee

By ABBY SIMONS

For former Marine J.B. White, the war in Iraq he served in four years ago is the only issue in the presidential campaign.

White has become the head of the veterans committee for the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. White said he supports Biden because of the candidate's plan to end U.S. involvement in the war.

White, a native of McComb, Miss., has temporarily lived in Des Moines but plans to travel the country to help the longtime senator gain support among military veterans.

But White is quick to emphasize that he's not just looking to get behind a "rock-star candidate."

Biden has promoted a five-point plan for Iraq that emphasizes establishing autonomous regions for the currently battling Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, as well as sharing oil revenues before withdrawing U.S. troops by the end of 2007.

Biden has also recently pushed for funding for additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, for the troops.

"He's gonna tell the truth - not that we're gonna pull out tomorrow and walk into the sunset together, because that's not a viable option," White said. "I've listened to everyone, and it just so happens, with this particular situation, that it's obvious who's telling the truth."

White speaks only of issues surrounding the war and benefits for returning troops, who he refers to as his brothers and sisters.

And what they need is action in the form of Biden's five-point plan for Iraq, he said, not lip service.

"You can see why so many things have gone wrong and why they would try so hard for a military solution in Iraq," he said. "This is a political solution, and that political solution is going to have a little foresight."

White served six years in the Marine Corps before joining the Army National Guard in 2002 and attending officer candidate school when he was deployed to Iraq with the 168th Engineering Group in 2003.

He was honorably discharged upon his return in 2004 and directed "Hope for New Veterans," a New York City pilot program that secured housing and offered counseling to Iraq war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

He is not paid for heading Veterans for Biden.

In an interview last month, Biden said that U.S. Marine field commanders in Iraq sent a detailed request to the Pentagon for the MRAP vehicles as early as February 2005, but the Senate did not catch wind of the request until March 2006.

Biden called the actions "a national disgrace."

"How many Iowans have been casualties of (improvised explosive devices) thus far? Either lost limbs, had severe brain damage or have been killed?" he said. "If we build these and put these Iowans in them now, we diminish by two-thirds the number of casualties. For every three you can save two.

"I want to get the hell out of there as quick as we can, but I have an overwhelming moral obligation while we are there to do every single solitary thing in my power to keep them safe."


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