Speech by Ray Camper, on the 11th anniversary of the war on Afghanistan

Ray Camper (far left) marches with other protesters in Minneapolis, MN on the 11th Anniversary of the Afghanistan War. (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

Ray Camper, a member of Iraq Vets Against War Member, delivered the following speech at the MN Peace Action Coalition protest in Minneapolis, MN on 10/07/2012 – the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

On this day, exactly eleven years ago, we began what most of us would agree would be the longest, costliest and most haphazard military operation to be lead by America to date.

The war that America launched on this day 11 years ago laid the groundwork for another war, the Iraq war.

When I joined the Army National Guard in early 2003, it wasn’t blood that I wanted so much as a way to gain control over what was an uncontrollable sense of fear, a sense of helplessness. What better in times of fear then to buy into the idea that your government is doing what’s in your best interest, and what better way to become a part of that government that is protecting you then enlisting? At least that’s how the logic worked to me at that the time.
But oh how the cold winds of reality can awaken you from your little, indoctrinated worldview.
Sometimes seeing is believing, and during my deployment, I finally was able to see and believe the reality of what America does when it “liberates” a country.
It might be me, but the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan don’t seem to be the benefiteraries of our presence and military actions in their countries, it seems to me that a select few American corporations are.
Something we all are seeing and finally believing is the reality that war doesn’t end once you are home. I can personally attest to that. I am one of the lucky ones I suppose who was able to find a way to deal with my demons from my time overseas, many of us however, are not so lucky.
This year, we have now seen more members of the military lose their lives to suicide than to combat operations. This should tell us something. Although there are many factors that lead to suicide, might I be so bold to suggest that just maybe the reality of seeing that your government has lied to you, that your government is benefiting from the death of innocent people all over the world, that a handful of corperations are making record profits while you return to a home with an anger and pain in your mind and heart that scares the shit out of you, can be just too much to deal with when you get home.
Everytime someone finds out that I served in Iraq, their most common response is “thank you for your service”. You know what I really want to hear when someone finds out that I was in Iraq? “I’m so sorry for your lose”. Because in the end, we all lose, as veterans, as a community and as Americans when we as a Nation engage in immoral, illigal and unjust wars.