Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement marking the 10th Anniversary of the War in Iraq:
"The United States invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, marking the beginning of a protracted war that lasted nine long years. Although the last American troops were brought home from Iraq at the end of 2011, the effects of our military intervention there will be felt for decades to come.
"Nearly 4,500 American lives were lost during the decade long war in Iraq, and 32,000 of our troops have returned home wounded with combat injuries from the battlefield or suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Almost 130,000 Iraqis were killed and millions more displaced. The bill for the U.S. taxpayer was $7 trillion.
"When Congress first debated the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq in 2002, I voiced serious concerns regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the lack of a long-term strategy in the region. I believed then, as I still do now, that the Bush administration chose to intervene for its own purposes rather than by necessity. That is why I could not, in good conscience, vote in favor of sending our troops to Iraq.
"During the debate, I introduced an alternative resolution requiring the Bush administration to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure cultural, economic, and political stability in a free Iraq. Unfortunately, Congress did not pass my resolution and the invasion of Iraq went forward.
"As we mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, we must remember those who gave their lives in defense of our country. I would like to once again thank our brave men and women in uniform for their service and sacrifice. As Congress considers budget proposals and spending cuts, we must ensure that we protect those who have given so much in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans return home facing higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, mental health disorders, and suicide. It is vital that Congress continues to support legislation that will allow our members of the military to make the transition back into civilian life."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as a Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.