by Diane Heldt :: UPDATED: 20 May 2011
IOWA CITY — A national group that recently launched a second chapter in Iowa wants the U.S. government to better support military veterans but also to stop creating more veterans through unnecessary wars, the group’s president said Tuesday in Iowa City.
Elliott Adams, national president of Veterans for Peace, said his group works to make people aware of the costs of war, to support veterans and all victims of war, to reduce and abolish all nuclear weapons and to encourage the government to end unnecessary wars.
Adams uses the analogy that each veteran is like a drop of water falling into a pond, creating ripples across the larger area.
“What we’re dealing with now is like a rainstorm ripping up the surface of society,” Adams said during an interview with The Gazette Tuesday. “The social cost of war is unbelievably high and we don’t do well at seeing it.”
Adams was in Iowa this week for several events, including a conference on militarism and environment in Iowa City and the launch of a new Veterans for Peace chapter in Des Moines. Iowa City already had a Veterans for Peace chapter serving Eastern Iowa, and the Des Moines chapter is No. 163 nationally.
“We have all served in the armed forces and see a greater commitment to a higher cause, which is establishing peace,” said Adams, who was a paratrooper in the infantry, serving in Vietnam, Japan, Korea and Alaska.
The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the two longest wars in American history. The financial cost and human toll have not left us safer as a nation, Adams argues.
“The war in Afghanistan is not making us safer,” he said. “It’s making us less safe.”
And he worries the U.S. military presence is spreading in other countries, like Libya and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, veterans at home don’t have the necessary government support or resources to deal with alcohol problems, drug abuse, mental health issues and injuries and brain trauma, Adams and Ed Flaherty, president of the Iowa City chapter, said. Homelessness and suicide rates among veterans of the Iraq War, for example, far exceed those of the rest of the U.S. population, they said.
“We want all veterans treated well, but most of all we don’t want more veterans created needlessly,” Flaherty said. “We’ll never catch up” with the needs.