Calling all Iraq War on Terror Veterans

By Steve Evangelista
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9460 Stratford

The Stratford VFW is in the process of fund raising for the building of a monument to honor those from our town who went overseas and fight in Iraqi Freedom serving and protecting our country and representing our town. This monument is a way for Stratford residents to remember that some of their own raised their right hand and swore to protect everyone and fight the War of Terror.

The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 that began with the invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition that overthrew the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the coalition forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. US troops were officially withdrawn in 2011. The United States became re-involved in 2014 at the head of a new coalition, and the insurgency and many dimensions of the armed conflict are ongoing. The invasion occurred as part of the George W. Bush administration’s war on terror following the September 11th attacks.

The monument being built will have a bronze soldier in the front, representing the soldiers who fought in this war. Behind the soldier will be a granite slab with engravings of the names, dates and medals from the conflict it is representing. It will sit alongside the memorials of our nation’s previous wars at Academy Hill.

At the present moment, we do not have an artist for the monument concept. We have the idea and what we want it to look like but have not yet found an artist to create the design we are looking for. If you have an artist you would recommend, we will greatly consider it and would love to speak to them. Once we have the design drawn up, we will gladly share it with the public.

I am not sure of how many Stratford men and women have served, or are still serving, in Iraq. Personally, I can say that I have served in the Army for 21 years and have deployed 4 times; 2 to Iraq and 2 to Afghanistan. There have been over 3 million tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, with over 1.9 million men and women who have served.

Unfortunately, unless these men and women are a member or know a member of our VFW, there is no way to know how many have actually served the War on Terror. We invite any veteran to come and join us for a meeting or join the VFW in general. We never turn away a veteran or their family and welcome everyone with open arms. Our meetings are on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at 7pm.

The monument itself will cost $35,000 to build. Our goal is to raise all $35,000 in order to build this monument. At the present moment, we have currently raised $5,000 towards the monument.  We are fundraising by holding events in which the proceeds will go to the monument. Our biggest event that we are hosting for the monument is the golf tournament on June 17th at the Short Beach Golf Course. All proceeds from this tournament are going towards the monument.

There is a GoFundMe page set up for anyone who wants to donate and cannot get to the VFW to physically give money. We are mostly asking for donations in order to build this monument. Just like everything else, every little bit counts and no one is expected or asked to donate when they come into our VFW or attend an event that we host. We do have a jar set up on the bar in the VFW for anyone who wants to donate while they are there. Outside of these, we are relying on word of mouth in order to help fund this monument. We are a 501(c) 19 veterans group so any donation made is tax deductible.

On Friday, April 14th the Stratford Rotary annual Rib Night will be to raising funds for the Stratford VFW’s Iraqui Freedom Monument, Homes for the Brave, and the Stratford Veterans Museum.

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