WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2011 — After nearly nine years the war in Iraq is ending and U.S. troops are returning home to a nation that should stand by those who fought, President Barack Obama said today.
“In recent days, many of our troops have come home and been reunited with their families for the holidays,” he said. “Over the next few days, a small group of American soldiers will begin the final march out of Iraq.”
The president lauded American troops for their service and the sacrifices of their families.
“This moment of success is because of their sacrifice,” Obama said. “More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq. More than 30,000 of these brave men and women were wounded. Nearly 4,500 gave their lives. America’s military families have borne a heavy burden.”
Obama called on Americans to demonstrate their appreciation for the nation’s military veterans and their families.
“As we mark the end of this war, we need to show our veterans and their families that they have the thanks of a grateful nation,” he said. “Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it. It’s not enough to honor our heroes with words; we must do so with deeds.”
The president noted his and Michelle Obama’s continuing efforts to take care of veterans and their families following their service.
“That’s why we’ve worked to send 600,000 veterans and family members back to school on the Post‑9/11 GI Bill,” Obama said. “That’s why one of Michelle’s top priorities as First Lady has been to support military families and why she’s worked with the private sector to get commitments to create 100,000 jobs for those who’ve served and their spouses.
“That’s why we worked with Congress to pass a tax credit so that companies have an incentive to hire vets and have taken steps to help veterans translate military experience to the private sector job market,” he added.
Citizens should realize that “our commitment to those who fight for our freedom and our ideals doesn’t end when our troops take off the uniform,” the president said.
“You can be a part of this effort to honor our heroes,” Obama added. “Help mark this moment. Write a quick note that troops and veterans all over the world will be able to see.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)