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Some US Soldiers' Families Join Opposition to Iraq War


Opposition to the war in Iraq continues to grow in the United States. A recent survey by the Los Angeles Times (newspaper) says 70 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the war. And anti-war rallies around the country are attracting tens of thousands of protesters. Those speaking out against the war include the families of some U.S. troops serving in Iraq. VOA's Brian Padden reports on the anti-war movement within the military community.

Fran Middleberg is a reluctant peace activist. Her son has served in Iraq with the U.S. military. "Bring them home now! Support our troops! I understand the necessity of a military. I understand defending our nation. But there was no imminent threat [from Iraq before 2003]. And if my son's going to be put in harm's way, then there has to be an imminent threat."

Fran Middleberg is one of a growing number of military families that are speaking out against the war. She is part of an anti-war group called Military Families Speak Out.

Nancy Lessin co-founded the group, which now has more than 3,200 members. Many of these families have lost loved ones in Iraq. "And as of today we have 3,067 of our loved ones who have been killed in a war that should never have happened, and hundreds of thousands of Iraq children, women and men who have died in this war. And what we think is that the continuing military occupation -- a war based on lies -- is what is breeding the fire and the fuel. And what we need to do is to stop that. It's the only way to put things right."

The anti-war activists are calling for an end to the Iraqi occupation and the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Mike Wysong, who represents over two million members of the group Veterans of Foreign Wars, says the U.S. military community still overwhelmingly supports the war and President Bush's military policies. He says anti-war protests are harming the troops. "I think it hurts the troops in the field. It hurts their morale, [and] they don't have confidence in the mission they are performing. And it's certainly ... detrimental to the morale of our troops."

Supporting the troops has been the rallying cry for war supporters. But military families who have anti-war views say the best way to support the troops is to bring them home.

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