Ten years ago today we embarked on what would be a long and costly war in Iraq. Since that day, we as Americans have stood behind the thousands of troops that have selflessly given their lives to preserve our country's sacred rights of freedom and security. Though we may have occasionally differed ideologically, we stood unwaveringly together to support our men and women in uniform. As I think about their dedication and commitment to the United States and all it represents, I am truly grateful and humbled. I hope everyone will join me today in reflecting on how far we have come as a country and take a moment to express gratitude to those brave men and women who paid the ultimate price to accomplish this.
After nearly nine years in Iraq, President Obama pulled virtually all American forces out of Iraq, signaling an end to a challenging and sobering time in American history. The war in Iraq has been over for approximately fifteen months now, but the losses we suffered are felt as strongly as ever. Nearly 100 Louisianans lost their lives in Iraq, and countless others were wounded in service. In all, America lost nearly 4,500 brave men and women. To them, we extend our unending gratitude for their courage.
But our commitment to America's veterans cannot stop at mere words. Across the country, thousands of men and women return from their tours of duty suffering physically and mentally. Nearly 32,000 American troops were wounded in combat, many of whom now live with a disability. Experts estimate that 11-20% of Iraq War veterans will suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of their service. That is why it is our duty to provide certain benefits, such as quality health care and retirement benefits to every veteran. We have a responsibility to those who have served our country to assist them with their healing and recovery process; that responsibility does not have an end date.
As the debate over national spending continues, I remain committed to working across the aisle to ensure that we can maintain our national security and keep our troops safe whether at home or abroad. I will continue to fight for our veterans to provide the benefits that they deserve. Our country is free and safe because of their valiant deeds and sacrifices. We must honor their commitment by helping to ensure they will be cared for during and long after their service.
Congressman Cedric Richmond
2nd Congressional District of Louisiana