Vets Group Calls on Both Campaigns to Drop Swift Boat Vets Controversy

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22pm EDT

( - A veteran's group that seeks to educate the public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand is calling on both campaigns "to drop this pointless debate and posturing in the media" over the Swift Boat veterans controversy.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Operation Truth, said the campaigns of President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry "have been jawing at each other about this supposed 'Swift Boat' controversy for weeks, now." Rieckhoff served for 10 months in Iraq as an infantry platoon leader.

"Because the media chooses to cover only the issues the candidates talk about, events of 35 years ago have dominated our national dialogue. Neither Senator Kerry nor President Bush are doing the voters a service by keeping up this nonsense," Rieckhoff said in a statement.

"The fact of the matter is, the United States currently has tens of thousands of troops on the ground, in Iraq, right now, and the difficulties and dangers they face everyday are not getting the attention they deserve from the candidates or the media," he said.

"Why haven't candidates, or the media for that matter, addressed the tens of thousands of Veterans coming home with serious psychological problems? Where are the front-page headlines on proposed budget cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs?" Rieckhoff asked.

"Who is shining a light on the drastic need to institutionalize family support systems and increase pay for those called to war? Why have we heard so little about the possible detrimental effects of Larium, the anti-malaria medication widely administered to troops in the Middle East?" he added.

"What are the effects of the Pentagon's "Stop-loss" policy, which locks in troops who have completed their contractual obligation? Most importantly, is there a clear exit strategy for war in Iraq?" Rieckhoff asked.

His group, Operation Truth, is calling on both campaigns to drop the debate on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad campaign issue and "talk about issues facing our troops today."

"Our men and women in uniform deserve better. For their heroic and patriotic service to this nation, they deserve the candidates' full attention right now, and neither campaign is providing that," Rieckhoff said.

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