March 1, 2009  

Vets surge

To President Barack Obama for achieving almost the impossible by outlining an Iraq withdrawal plan that has widespread support. By acting cautiously and choosing a middle course, and by emphasizing U.S. success rather than cutting losses, Obama should secure buy-in for his 18-month timetable to end the combat mission in Iraq. There’s an important caveat, however. As details of the plan are worked, it’s imperative to take into account the likelihood that a troop drawdown in Iraq will lead to a surge of new veterans coming home this year and next. America has a responsibility to ensure that funds and programs are in place to fully provide for their transition needs. And in these dire economic times, financial stresses will be piled on top of health and other concerns. As Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America director Paul Rieckhoff said, “No veteran’s ‘welcome home’ should come in the form of an unemployment check.”