Entries in War Veterans (3)


White House Dinner Honors Iraq War Vets

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a White House dinner Wednesday evening for some 200 Iraq veterans and their families as a way of paying tribute to the sacrifices they've made during the 8-year-long war.

A White House statement said, "This dinner [is] an expression of the nation’s gratitude for the achievements and enormous sacrifices of the brave Americans who served” in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

The president saluted the soldiers as did Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Members from all branches of the military were invited, including those who served in the National Guard and Army Reserves.

Former Marine Eric Alva was one of several highly decorated Iraq veterans honored.  Alva was the first member of U.S. forces to be injured in Iraq following the American-led invasion in March 2003.

Others attending the dinner included Army Col. Peter Newell, who won the Silver and Bronze Stars and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Nelson Visaya,  winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with Valor awards.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iraq War Vets to Be Honored with White House Dinner

Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will formally express the nation's gratitude for the thousands of Iraq War veterans with a state dinner in their honor at the White House Wednesday night.

The event, themed "A Nation's Gratitude," is the first of its kind to mark the end of a major war and comes just two-and-a-half months after the last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq.

"A state dinner is the greatest honor a president can convey upon a head of state, and it was felt that the men and women who served in Iraq merited the same kind of honor and respect that you would give to a head of state," said Douglas Wilson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

A hand-picked group of 78 service members selected proportionally from across all military branches, ranks and states will attend, officials say, joined by members of military families, Gold Star families and wounded warriors.

While more than 1.5 million Americans served in Iraq during the nearly nine-year war, the mix of guests is meant to reflect and honor the diversity of the entire fighting force, officials said.

The dinner's limited size and profile is also seen as a nod to the nearly 100,000 U.S. troops still fighting in Afghanistan.

While some veterans and military advocates have called for a ticker-tape parade to celebrate the end of the war in Iraq, Wilson said the White House dinner is merely a "first national recognition" of veterans' service; not a substitute for a formal parade.

"People here have said that they certainly support a national-level parade when the circumstances are appropriate to do so," he said. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


No Parade, But White House Plans Formal Dinner for Iraq War Vets

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will host a black-tie, state-dinner-style event at the White House to honor Iraq War veterans, administration officials announced Monday.

“It’s really focused on the men and women who served in Iraq, in all stations within the armed services,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. The celebration will occur Feb. 29, two and a half months after the last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq.

The evening will be themed “A Nation’s Gratitude” and is believed to be the first such event of its kind at the White House to mark the end of a major war, a Pentagon official said.

A hand-picked group of roughly 200 attendees selected proportionally from across all service branches and ranks are expected to attend.

At its height, nearly 170,000 troops served during the war there.

Still, some veterans groups and advocates have pressed for a parade in New York City or Washington, D.C., and launched an online petition drive to make the case to the president.

Late last month, St. Louis became the first U.S. city to throw a parade for returned Iraq War veterans -- an event that drew more than 100,000 who lined the streets to show their support, according to organizers.

Veterans groups in 10 other cities, including Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Seattle are said to be considering hosting similar events.

More than 1.5 million Americans fought in the nearly nine-year war that cost an estimated $800 billion. The fighting left almost 4,500 Americans dead, 32,000 wounded and an estimated 100,000 Iraqis killed.

About 90,000 U.S. troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio