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Resolutions & Amendments

38th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (2008)

The Iraq War, Soldiers and Veterans

Resolution No. 85
38th International Convention
Moscone West
July 28 - August 1, 2008
San Francisco, CA

The war in Iraq drags on.  Considered by many to be the biggest foreign policy blunder in U.S. history, the war has continued for 5 and one-half years.  Almost 4,100 service members have been killed and over 30,000 have been wounded; and

The war has cost over $520 billion.  It now costs $341.4 million per day.  Taxpayers will pay $135.4 billion for President Bush’s request for additional war spending in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.  This same amount of money would provide 39 million people with health care for a year or over 18 million additional places for children in Head Start.  As the number of home foreclosures grows, and food and fuel prices reach new records every day, this money is needed here at home; and

The government has spent over $102 billion since 2003 on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. The amount of fraud and waste is breathtaking.  A no-bid security contract with Blackwater was renewed as the company is being investigated by a grand jury and facing a possible inquiry by the Internal Revenue Service.  The Army has relied on a 22-year-old and his company, AEY, Inc., to supply Afghan forces.   Recently the Army awarded the company a $300 million contract for munitions.  When it was reported that the company shipped 40-year-old, decomposing, Chinese ammunition to Afghan troops, the contract was suspended.  Soldiers at Army bases in Iraq have received severe electrical shocks and at least ten have been electrocuted due to faulty electrical work by contractors; and

AFSCME and the AFL-CIO have adopted statements calling for our troops to be brought home as soon and as safely as possible.  The decision to go to war was based on false claims about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and their imminent threat to the United States, and Iraq’s links to Al-Qaeda.  An open-ended U.S. military presence in Iraq offers no assurance of improving the security of the United States.  The military invasion and continued occupation of Iraq has actually increased the level of international terrorism and made the U.S. and the world less, not more, safe and secure; and

Opposition to the war in no way implies criticism of the men and women fighting in Iraq.  AFSCME honors our men and women in uniform, and recognizes the heroism of their sacrifices.  They are our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends; and

Given all we ask of our soldiers, it is a national disgrace and an outrage that they cannot get decent medical care and financial support when they return from war. The Veterans’ Administration was already overburdened and under-funded before the first troops went to Iraq; it’s much worse now. The military health care system has been overwhelmed by returning soldiers.  Veterans around the country face challenges in obtaining appropriate medical care because of staffing shortages and funding shortfalls.  One in five service members who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.  The Veterans Administration takes more than 180 days to process a veteran’s claim for benefits.  Anyone who appeals a decision has to wait 4 and one-half years for a decision.  An average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day nationwide; and

The country owes troops who sacrifice abroad a good education when they return home.  Enactment of the new GI Bill had to overcome opposition in Congress and veto threats from President Bush because it would “cost too much.” 

That AFSCME expresses its profound gratitude and admiration for the men and women in uniform.  A timetable for the quickest possible withdrawal of U.S. troops, consistent with their safety, should be adopted; and

That AFSCME and its affiliates will work with, participate in and support U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) in pursuit of these goals and in solidarity activities with Iraqi unions; and

That AFSCME urges the Bush administration to stop cutting veterans’ benefits.  We support efforts to provide veterans the health care and mental health services they need.  We also applaud passage of the new GI Bill to provide veterans with the educational opportunities they deserve.

Jeff Book, President
Anne Van Valkenburgh, Secretary and Delegate
Eva Wieland , Steward
Alison Regan, Steward
Anwar Zraikat, Delegate
Michelle Bell
Gloria Aviles
Norma Soto-Coronado
Kim Patterson
David Giugni
Corey Roskin
AFSCME Local 3339, Council 36

Catherine G. Scott, President and Delegate
Yvonne S. Harris, Treasurer
AFSCME District Council 47