Gold Star Dad Says Anti-War Dems 'Too Busy' to Meet Him

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - Leading Democratic proponents of setting a timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq have refused to meet with the father of a dead soldier who believes a withdrawal would mean his son's life was "wasted."

Army SSG Joshua Hager was wounded near Ramadi when an improvised explosive device blew up under his vehicle on Feb. 22, 2007. He died the next day from his injuries.

Hager's father, Kris Hager, wants opponents of the war to rethink their position because he believes ending U.S. involvement would mean his son's life was wasted there.

"How do I tell my grandson his father's life was wasted by Congress?" Hager said in an email.

Hager told Cybercast News Service that information he's received from his son's commanders led him to believe the bomb that killed Joshua originated in Iran. He believes withdrawing troops from Iraq will weaken the United States' ability to pressure Iran to stop supplying insurgent forces with weapons.

The U.S. military and President Bush have accused Iran of supplying money, weapons and ammunition to Iraqi insurgents, resulting in more sophisticated and deadly bombs. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the allegations.

Hager has tried -- without success -- to schedule meetings or phone calls with some of the leading proponents of a military withdrawal, including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the U.S. House of Representatives on March 23 voted to pass a bill authorizing increased funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a September 2008 deadline for withdrawing troops.

A similar bill was passed in the Senate on March 29, and the two houses are now conferencing on the bill to iron out differences. Kerry, Murtha and Pelosi were among the bills' supporters.

"Each of their offices said they were too busy to speak with me," Hager said. The Florida resident's own elected officials -- Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Republicans Sen. Mel Martinez and Rep. Vern Buchanan -- all spoke with him over the phone to express their sympathies.

A spokesman for Sen. Kerry said he does not have a policy on meeting with families of fallen soldiers. "However, Senator Kerry meets with families when he can and has talked with members from his home state and outside the state as well," the spokesman said.

Spokesmen for Murtha and Pelosi did not respond to calls and e-mails requesting comment Wednesday.

Hager said he feels entitled to meet with prominent opponents of the war, even if he is not one of their constituents, because "they have taken a national stance."

"They talk all the time about the people -- 70 percent of the Americans want them to get us out. They're not talking in the bounds of their constituency," he said. "People like Murtha and Kerry who have traded on their military records, they owe me a chance to at least talk. I deserve that."

"I've seen them embracing Cindy Sheehan," Hager added, referring to the prominent anti-war activist whose son was killed in Iraq. "They make themselves accessible to people who agree with them. I think it's a small enough club of fathers who have lost sons that I can get that access, at their convenience."

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