URBANDALE, Iowa – After President Obama announced Thursday evening targeted airstrikes would begin on Islamic militants from the terrorist group ISIS, who are threatening the lives of refugees in northern Iraq, local Iraq War veterans say they support the decision.
“I don’t think that it’s the United States’ obligation to be in the Middle East to correct the political issues, but I do believe our American ideals compel us to respond to the humanitarian crisis there,” said Miyoko Hikiji, an Urbandale resident and Iraq War veteran.
However, Hikiji says she doesn’t believe U.S. involvement should intensify from there; due to a serious problem on American soil in accommodating returning veterans, she claims the nation should not consider putting boots on the ground at this time.
“I think the air-strikes and the humanitarian aid is a good way to address the problem right now,” she said. “But before really employing more troops and more U.S. resources, when we really have a veterans crisis here in the country, as far as taking care of the soldiers, and airmen, and military personnel that have already served the past 10 years, I really do think we need to take a look at that.”
Col. Greg Hapgood of the Iowa National Guard says the president’s announcement doesn’t change anything in the day-to-day routine of Iowa’s reserve soldiers – at least not right now.
“We certainly watch world events very very carefully here in the Iowa National Guard, because events on a strategic event like that can have a local effect on us as well,” he said. “At this point it hasn’t changed anything we’re doing. We still maintain the same readiness posture that we always do.”
While the nation’s political discourse may be divided on whether further U.S. military-involvement in Iraq is the right thing to do or not, Hapgood says the National Guard’s duty is to obey orders.
“It’s not about politics for us,” he said. “It’s about doing our job and doing what we’re told to do by our civilian and military leaders.”