Tina Richards: How Will You End This War?
How Will You End This War?
By Tina Richards
I’ve received emails thanking me for speaking out on behalf of my son and other troops serving in Iraq. In addition, I’ve received questions about my exchange with Rep. David Obey that was videotaped by a citizens news group, Kathleen Gabel and Tyler Westbrook, that is documenting the peace movement in the halls of Congress. They’ve covered my visits with other members of Congress as well as the work of other citizens working to end the war.
I’ve come to Washington, DC because my son Cloy, who has been honorably discharged from the Marines with the presidential unit citation, is now facing a possible third deployment. Cloy is suffering from undiagnosed traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. As Cloy says in one of his poems "every time I look in the mirror I see a casualty of the war." (You can see on http://grassrootsamerica4us.org the impact the war has had on him through his poetry.)
Like other soldiers, my son has suffered neglect. Therefore, I’ve also been lobbying Congress on the inadequate treatment our troops receive in the VA system – my son is not an isolated case. He should not be going back. Indeed it is time to bring all our sons and daughters home from Iraq.
Although my senators have offered to help Cloy individually, he has refused special treatment unless they are also actively working to bring home all his brothers and sisters. He is a Marine and will not leave his fellow soldiers behind.
My unplanned meeting with Rep. David Obey in the hallway was an opportunity to ask the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the committee that will write the budget for the Iraq War and occupation, how he will use the ‘power of the purse’ to bring the war to an end. The frustration he showed in his response to my questions was understandable. Many in Congress who know the war is wrong feel unable to do all they can to end it.
On November 7th, Nancy Pelosi was given a mandate by the American people to bring our troops home. It time for Speaker Pelosi to spend her political capital.
As a citizen, I am confused why the Democrats are working from President Bush’s appropriation when his party lost the 2006 election because of the war. The new majority should write their own supplemental budget bill based on the views of the vast majority of Americans, majority of troops in Iraq, and majority of Iraqis – one that ends the war, brings the troops home safely and takes care of them when they return.
I hope to meet with Rep. Obey and I have been contacted by Speaker Pelosi’s office to schedule an appointment to meet with her. I want to understand how they are going to end the war.
As a mother of a Marine I have a personal interest, but it is an interest shared by other mothers whose sons and daughters are in Iraq – we want this war to end. We want U.S. troops to come home. We want our sons and daughters cared for when they return. We want our country to live up to its highest ideals and help Iraq rebuild its country, provide support to a regional peace keeping force and talk with the other countries in the region about how to reduce the violence and bring stability to the Middle East. We want to see the damage of this war undone.
I have seen the horrors of war through my son’s eyes. Therefore I ask "How will you end this war?"
Tina Richards, Grass Roots
Below are some questions I have received:
Q. Did you set him up?
A. I Didn’t. I heard there was going to be an occupation of his office and I wanted to get there early to try once again to get an appointment. I have been there a dozen times and never ran into him and did not expect to run into him.
Q. But the camera was shooting up?
A. The camera woman is short. There was another gentleman there that took pictures of Rep. Obey, the camera woman with the large camera and myself. It wasn’t hidden.
Q. Why are you here when your son is in trouble?
A. I’ve been home two years taking care of him when the VA hasn’t. I need to stop his deployment. After his second tour of Iraq, I promised myself as a mother to never feel powerless again. DC is where I could stop the deployment.
Q. Why are you asking for money on your website?
A. I have sold my house, given every penny to help my son and to end this war. I have no money left. I planned to go home after January 29th and return to being a banker in which I earn a nice salary. I’m living on a couch in Maryland.
Q. Who’s funding you?
A. I’ve received $10 and $15 checks mostly, and some others like a $50 check from a Lt. Col. in Fargo N. Dakota. I have raised about $3,000 in the last few months which I’ve used to support my son, my daughter and myself. I’ve also increased my credit card balances – the only thing in my finances that has increased.
Q. Why did you give the video to the media?
A. We shot it on Monday and deliberated for three days as to whether we should show it or not. We finally decided to show it as it reflected the frustration we all feel, citizens and lawmakers alike.
Q. Why won’t your elected officials help?
A. After everything that has happened, my son refuses to be their political pawn. Unless they are working to bring his brothers and sisters home, he will not accept their help. He is a Marine and will not leave his fellow soldiers behind.
Q. How can I help?
A. Congress needs to palpably FEEL the presence of we the people, to hear us, and know that we mean it. There cannot be too many voices!
Ask them, “How will you end this war?”
“We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war.”