EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It’s the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the start of a war that still divides our nation. President Obama pulled the final U.S. forces out, but the war is still taking its toll on veterans and their families, on our federal finances and on Iraqis.
Now people all over the U.S. are reflecting, especially our veterans and their families.
32-year-old Scott Morfitt of Eau Claire served in the Minnesota National Guard up until three years ago when he returned from Iraq after working as a human resources specialist on base.
“It was a different sort of mission than they had before. We were really about winning hearts and minds, working with local people. I was in Basra, Iraq,” said Morfitt. “It was the first time I had seen poverty on a real, real level.”
Morfitt said for him, the war wasn’t about going to war, but rather helping his fellow soldiers.
“I viewed doing it as making people’s lives easier, making sure people had their payroll up to date and had things like their child birth was recorded and their insurance was right. I felt it would ease their minds and I really wanted to serve the solders in the way I could. And for me, it was serving alongside of them,” said Morfitt who was 28-years-old when he went overseas.
10 years since the war in Iraq began, more than a million U.S. troops have been deployed, nearly 4,500 hundred killed, 32,000 wounded and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed.
“It’s weird looking back now because when you look back with hindsight, you're calculating about everything so it’s very easy to say like ‘oh it was super expensive and you have so many people hurt and blah blah blah’, I don’t know, it’s like we almost didn't count those costs going into it,” said Morfitt.
According ot the latest gallup poll, 53 percent of the public call the war a mistake.
Morfitt said being a soldier and being at war is a broad issue. He said a lot of times people try to “pigeonhole” it into one thing.
“You really can’t say like who is a soldier and what is war because there are just so many moving parts and it’s such a big behemoth and you have so many great people coming from so many different backgrounds who are all contributing to it,” he said.
Right now, veterans and their families continue to deal with the ripple effect with suicides and mental health problems. For Morfitt, unemployment has become a reality.
“I am looking for a job right now. It has been a challenge. I’ve applied to a lot of HR positions and I have a good resume, but I rarely get callbacks and it’s weird because I have eight years of human resources experience,” said Morfitt who has a degree in broadcast journalism and English literature from UW-Eau Claire.
He said the situation is baffling and that people tend to put military service on a pedestal but they don’t put the real work that a veteran does on the same pedestal.
“I would love to be hired. You know, one of the things I really felt like my service over there was serving the country and back here, I want to serve the community of Eau Claire that I love so much. I want to do great service for this city because it’s a fantastic place,” said Morfitt.
Morfitt said there are employers who do like to hire people with military backgrounds but with his job search still ongoing, he said it’s still tough and a challenge that many veterans have.
If you are a veteran looking for a job there's a job fair for vets and other service members next week. It’s on March 26th from 10 am to 2 pm at The National Guard Armory in Eau Claire