Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is normally a CNN contributor and a senior fellow at the Council in Foreign Relations . She is the author of “Ashley’s Battle: The Untold Account of a Team of Females Soldiers on the Distinctive Ops Battlefield.” The thoughts expressed in this commentary are hers.
(CNN) This Thanksgiving, it isn’t enough merely to thank our troops because of their service. Let’s take time to think about them, their families and the wars this nation is requesting them to fight.
America continues to be engaged in post-9/11 wars. And they are certainly not ramping down. In fact, two numbers that found light this week built that clear and give us something to reflect on this Thanksgiving as we sit down for turkey and time with our families.
“Number of US troops + DOD civilians in Middle East grew from 40,517 to 54,180 in past 4 mos, according to different DOD info,” Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at Chatham Home, shared in Twitter. His numbers originated from the most recent Department of Defense quarterly personnel report.
“US military presence found in Middle East grew by 33%.”
Unless you read DOD quarterly personnel report, you’d never know US military occurrence in Middle East grew by 33%. Question if Congress knows?
And it is not just the Middle East that is seeing a increase in troops but also Somalia
These post-9/11 conflicts continue to be unresolved. They continue steadily to engage the united states military, and to have an effect on the American public, even though they make headlines only rarely.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted in a recently available speech that “as we gather tonight there’s about 275,000 (service members) that are forward deployed and forward engaged, and some of them are in harm’s way.”
For the first time in more than a half-decade, “the number of US troops killed in overseas functions has increased over the prior year,” according to Army Times. Thirty-one service customers have died so far this year; that is up from 26 in 2016. Indeed, our nation only marked a grim milestone:For the first time in more than a half-decade, “the number of US troops killed in overseas operations has elevated over the prior year,” according to Army Moments. Thirty-one service customers have died so far this year; that is up from 26 in 2016.
It is not only that risk is faced. But milestones are missed. Service customers are away from their homes and loved ones, missing holidays, birthdays, anniversaries — spouse and children gatherings many Americans neglect. The military families group Blue Star Families reported last week that among the armed service families who took their study, in regards to a third said they had dealt with spouse and children separation for at least four years since 9/11. Forty percent said they had faced extra than six months of family separation only during the past year and a half.
“High rates of spouse and children separation continue. Time away from family surpassed pay and benefits as best concern for military families,” the survey article said. “Nearly half (46%) of military spouse and children respondents ranked time away from family as their best concern.”
I asked military families groups what they wanted to show America this Thanksgiving, plus they told me two words: Remember us.
“Even though we aren’t at the elevation of a war, services members remain separated from families and it continues. Families are getting really frustrated,” says Joyce Wessel Raezer, executive director of the National Armed service Family group Association . “When Iraq and Afghanistan had been at their peak, we predicted it. But now we are just in this continued uncertain environment, and no one else outside the military is really noticing this pace of deployment. Folks are saying, ‘We are sick and tired of this.’ ”
And America can carry out more to help.
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“As far as our military families are concerned, we remain a nation at war,” Raezer says. “It has been a long war, people are fatigued, and what military families need from all Us citizens are support in the workplace of armed service spouses, support in schools where military kids go to college, support for our just lately transitioned military families and just a knowledge that our military continues to be a very busy military facing incredibly dangerous situations.”
As you sit down with family this Thanksgiving, give a moment to all who won’t get to experience time with their loved ones. And another minute to stay engaged with America’s wars, the persons who are fighting them and every hubby, wife, daughter, child and parent who works with them all year long because they serve their nation.