Today marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. The past ten years serve as a lesson of the inherent risk, cost, and sacrifice associated with any deployment of U.S. forces. As a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, I understand the impact that the decision to go to war has upon our service members and their families. Our men and women in uniform remain our military's greatest asset and we have a moral obligation to provide the best medical care and support services to all of America's veterans.
While major combat operations officially lasted only 21 days, U.S. troops spent over eight years in Iraq. I supported quickly bringing the war in Iraq to a responsible close. While the Iraq War originated as an operation to destroy alleged weapons of mass destruction and protect United States security, the mission shifted to one of reconstruction.
I have great concerns about the rights of ethnic and religious minorities as well as the social status of women in Iraq. It is important that religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq are included in the reconstruction process and that all groups are afforded appropriate representation. I believe that Iraqis who wish to return home should be able to do so. The critical issue of protecting and assisting refugees and religious minorities remains a priority for me.