As the United States prepares to withdraw all forces from Iraq by the end of the month, a number of South Carolina veterans who have made their mark as Democrats in the political arena commented on the end of the war in a media call Wednesday sponsored by the Truman National Security Project.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Rob Miller served two tours in Iraq. Miller said President Obama kept his pledge to end U.S. troop involvement in Iraq once the country was prepared to defend itself. While it was the Bush Administration that set the December 31 deadline, that original plan had sought a small number of contingency troops to remain behind.
Miller says he is proud of the U.S. military’s successful mission in Iraq.
AUDIO: Miller says the U.S. accomplished its mission in Iraq
Miller says he thinks about the nearly 4500 soldiers who have died and the thousands that have been wounded during the war. While running as a Democrat, Miller lost to incumbent Republican Joe Wilson in the race for the 2nd Congressional seat in 2010.
As a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard, Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) served in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008. Smith says all of America should be proud of what the soldiers were able to accomplish in helping Iraq develop a democratic government.
Smith says his thoughts are with the brave men and women who have served in the military and the sacrifices that they and their families have made during the War in Iraq.
AUDIO: Smith says the end of the war is an end worthy of our soldiers’ sacrifices
Fellow legislator Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) is a 30-year veteran in the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard. Leventis says he well knows that being deployed involves sacrifice not only for the soldier, but his or her family as well. Leventis says he remembers being called to duty as a fighter pilot in the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
AUDIO: Leventis says veterans need to be supported when they return
Leventis acknowledged President Obama’s efforts to take care of veterans as they return home. He says the U.S. will continue to be committed to its allies, but must first and foremost be committed to America.