Iraq veterans hold candlelight vigil

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by By SHELTON GREEN/KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on November 11, 2009 at 10:50 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 11 at 11:42 PM

Fort Hood has been the setting of a number of memorial ceremonies and vigils since last Thursday's slayings of 13 people which left dozens of others injured.

But a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at the east gate of the Fort Hood post was different from the rest.

A group of 15 Fort Hood soldiers marched in silence with candles in hand to the east gate of the post.  There the soldiers were met by dozens of other citizens who were also holding candles.  The point of the candlelight vigil was twofold.  First, soldiers and their supporters were there on Veteran's Day to honor their comrades massacred in a mass shooting on the post last Thursday.  The second point of the vigil was to bring attention to the growing need of better mental health care for U.S. soldiers returning home from the battle fields.

"I approached the Army when I got back from Iraq and I was like hey I need to talk to somebody, I need some help, they said come back in two months", said Michael Kern, an enlisted Army soldier who took part in Wednesday's candlelight vigil.

Kern, and many of the other soldiers taking part in the silent vigil is a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, a group claiming 2,000 members most of whom are currently enlisted in the armed services.

Kern told KVUE that on Tuesday during President Barrack Obama's visit to Fort Hood for memorial services for slain soldiers that he slipped the President a letter outlining changes that Iraq Veterans Against War want to see made for troops returning home from battle.

"He came over to me to shake my hand, put out his hand to shake my hand and very respectfully I pulled out the letter from my pocket, tried handing it to him and I said sir IAW has some issues they'd like for you to address and at that point he put his hand down and went to another soldier, secret service took the letter from me and that was the last of it", said Kern.

"There has to be a more compassionate attitude towards soldiers who are dealing with a lot of stress and that's where it has to start. No program or no poster on the wall is going to fix that", said Chance Mills, another Army soldier who is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
 

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