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Vets in Iraq

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Vets in Iraq

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Speaker 1: 00:00 The prospect of war in the middle East has dominated the news since the U S killed a top Iranian general in a drone strike last week. Hey, PBS military reporter Steve Walsh sat down with a mix of Iraq war veterans to get their take on the latest conflict. Fadi Mati is from Iraq. He worked as an interpreter for the U S he's now a real estate agent in San Diego. So Fadi you're an Iraqi national yourself, right? So you grew up in Iraq and then you later went to [inaudible] and you work for the Americans. What goes through your head when you see your country in this kind of turmoil?

Speaker 2: 00:37 It's really unfortunate, actually. The, you would hope that the things would get better or should have gotten better after the fall of Saddam's regime and things. I've only, uh, only been going down since then. First was Okada, then it was ISIS. Now it's the Shia militias and it just keep escalating and escalating and we're hoping that it would get better. One day.

Speaker 1: 01:03 Jenna fin breasts is a Gulf war veteran. She refueled a tanks in Kuwait in Iraq. She now works as a medical support assistant at the VA in San Diego. When you start seeing the headlines coming out of Iraq, what goes through your mind? Do you watch a lot of TV when, when a rock is in the headlines the way it has been?

Speaker 3: 01:20 Not too much. Maybe because been there done that, seen that really don't want to anymore kind of a thing. I mean, I never asked myself that, you know, I just don't want to see it anymore.

Speaker 1: 01:42 Eric Gopel runs veterans for cannabis and battle brothers. He served two tours in Iraq in intelligence and communications support for army special forces. I look on social media and I follow a lot of vet Twitter and active duty Twitter and after the president, the initiated this drone strike. I see pictures of beef, 52 bombers and a aircraft carrier saying that you don't understand the full might and power of the of the U S military. You know, we're ready to come in anytime I are. We really that committed to, to doing this all over again after we've been in Iraq and Afghanistan so long.

Speaker 4: 02:21 I mean we've spent, I mean, the defense budget is $740 billion just in the last, uh, in the last budget, you know, with, when you include VA costs and UN funded liabilities. I mean, you're talking over $1 trillion a year that we're spending on, on what right. And what is the, not only what is the taxpayer getting out of this, uh, you know, are we more secure? Are our allies more secure? Are we more prosperous? You know, I, I don't think the answer to those questions are resounding yes. Certainly.

Speaker 1: 02:53 Steven V Podio works for headstrong, which provides mental health care for veterans. He's retired from the U S army. He was a engineer in Iraq in 2009. I asked him if he thought most people were still paying attention to these long running conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we were all really [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 03:09 paying attention, we'd be listening to a lot of veterans in. Yeah, we're ready to fight. But we're kind of over it. It's, it's 16, 16, 18 years. You know, people of men's sons are fighting the battle. They fought. Um, when is enough enough, you know, how much longer can we sustain this? And, uh, being forgotten here in San Diego, I don't feel that at all. I'll be very honest. It's why San Diego is considered the beacon for care for veterans, and I do want to make that known. Um, so here I don't feel we're forgotten. But nationally, I think there's certain areas that, um, we're not, we're not being paid attention to because the war is much more flashy than the veteran either ending his life asking for help or being homeless.

Speaker 1: 03:55 That was KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh talking to a group of local veterans of the Iraq war about the latest conflict with Iran.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.