War's end

2/13/2013

Support for nation's veterans tops list of pressing issues.

Support for nation's veterans tops list of pressing issues.

A highlight of President Obama's State of the Union address was his promise to bring home American troops at war.

The president announced his plan to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan by 34,000 by this time next year — encouraging news some 12 years after the United States engaged in the invasion of Afghanistan as part of the war on terror.

"And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over," the president said Tuesday night.

Numerous soldiers and sailors from Garden City, Finney County and the region were called on to serve in the war on terror. Practically everyone knows someone, be it a family member or friend, who's had a part in wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

While the Iraq War, which came on the heels of Afghanistan, finally ended in 2011, fighting in Afghanistan continues in what's become the nation's longest war.

When it ends, it will be a time to rejoice — and especially for families of U.S. troops, whose dreams come true as their loved ones head home.

Of course, the end of war also brings a time to consider the grim toll to the nation.

To date, the United States has lost more than 6,600 U.S. military personnel to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In dollars, the wars already have cost the nation well more than $1 trillion.

We also can count on significant future expense ahead in care for our wounded vets.

Knowing many veterans and their families will face a variety of trying times as they adjust to post-war life, the president and Congress must push for adequate health care, educational opportunities and other support.

The plan to bring more troops home from Afghanistan didn't occupy a huge part of Obama's State of the Union address. Money-related matters — the federal budget and economy — consumed a lion's share of his speech.

Yet when it comes to pressing issues of the day, none is more important than the future of our troops in harm's way.

No one should be satisfied until they're home and receiving the support they need and deserve.

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