As tensions escalate after the U.S. killed an Iranian general, some Iraq war veterans in the Bay Area say they don’t want to see more troops sent to the Middle East.
They will be holding a protest in San Francisco on Saturday where they will be speaking out against military action. They say that they know how war has affected them and they don’t want another generation of young soldiers to face the same hardships.
U.S. Army veteran Oliver Thomas Valenzuela-Nettell got to know and respect the Kurds in Iraq while serving on one of two “Operation Iraqi Freedom” deployments in 2002.
“They’re just people like you and me,” he said.
As tension between Iran and the U.S. reaches a new level, Valenzuela-Nettell and other veterans with About Face Veternas Against the War want to remind people about the human cost of war.
“In the two tours of Iraq I did, we lost maybe three people in direct combat,” Valenzuela-Nettell said. “But we lost untold more since we got back, to suicide, alcohol, drugs and homelessness.”
About 3,000 troops are being sent to the region now. Political analyst Larry Gerston said President Trump’s decision to kill Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds force, could lead to an even larger deployment.
“Both President Obama and President Bush had opportunity to kill Soleimani — why didn’t they? Because killing him, they thought, was going to be so terrible on the other side it could precipitate war,” Gerston said. “That is what is hanging over America and the president now.”
Valenzuela-Nettell plans to speak out against military escalation that could create another generation of veterans scarred by war.
“I’m worried they’re going to be put in harm’s way because of a hasty political decision,” Valenzuela-Nettell said.
About Face Veterans Against the War and other groups will be protesting at Market and Powell streets from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, a national day of action with events planned around the country.