Since our first service members set foot in Afghanistan a decade ago, they have risen to meet seemingly insurmountable odds. Despite the hostile territory, the punishing weather, and the political turmoil swirling around them, our men and women in uniform toppled the regime that harbored Bin Laden and helped a fledgling democracy take its place.
There was a cost to all of this, though -- not just in money but to our military -- their families, their mental and physical health, and of course, the ultimate sacrifice, their lives. To date, over $570 billion have been spent -- enough to hire 8.4 million elementary school teachers, provide 102.9 million Pell grants to students, or put an additional 8.2 million cops on our streets. Additionally, over 2,000 American service members have been killed, and tens of thousands more have been wounded. Among the troops who've come home, mental scars from the horrors of war have begun to show. Depression and PTSD have sadly led to one veteran killing themselves every 80 minutes. It's tragic to know that more of our heroes have now died by their own hand than in the war itself.
This toll has been undeniably heavy. Despite the odds, our troops delivered on everything that was asked of them. They did their part -- now it's time we in Congress do ours by bringing them home to their loved ones.
That's why I proudly offered an amendment with Rep. Barbara Lee to the 2013 spending bill to end funding for the war in Afghanistan. The amendment includes a reserve to allow for the safe return of our troops. By bringing this war to a close, we can save the lives of hundreds of U.S. service members, save tens of billions of dollars, and bring about the inevitable transition to Afghan rule. At a time when our economy is in such dire straits, we need the $230 million we spend in Afghanistan each day to be spent here. At a time when suicide is a greater threat than enemy fire, we need to help our heroes mend. And at a time when the same troops are being sent back for three, four or even five deployments, it's time to come home.
It's simply time to come home.