Interview with Iraq Vet Patrick Resta
- Interview with Iraq Veterans Against the War Patrick Resta:
'sent into combat unequipped and unprepared'
May 4, 2005
The voices of veterans who have served in Iraq is among the most
important in convincing the public and government officials that the
war in Iraq is wrong and the occupation must be ended. The interview
below is with Patrick Resta of Iraq Veterans against the War. Patrick,
who served as a combat medic in Iraq, is 26 years old and been married
for five years. He grew up in central New Jersey and now lives in
Philadelphia. He is a full time nursing student at the Community
College of Philadelphia. His aunt and uncle were killed in the World
Trade Center on September 11th and about three weeks later he was
called to active duty as part of homeland security. He served for one
year at Ft. Jackson, SC. Then when he began to get his life back to
normal and less than one year after leaving Ft. Jackson he found out
that he was being deployed again, this time to Iraq.
Zeese: Why did you join the National Guard?
Resta: I joined the National Guard for assistance with school. My
parents made it clear that they weren't in a position to help me with
school so I began considering my options when I was about 16 years
old. In New Jersey the National Guard pays for tuition, books, and
fees to any state school. If you add on to that a few hundred dollars
every month it sounded like a good deal to a 17 year old kid.
Zeese: Were you surprised when you were sent to Iraq?
Resta: I wasn't surprised at all that I was sent to Iraq. What did
surprise me though was how my unit and myself were sent into combat
unequipped and unprepared and it didn't seem to bother anyone. I was
hearing as early as October 2001 that Iraq would be invaded no matter
what. Also interesting to me is the fact that some people have been to
Iraq two and three times, yet you still have some people that haven't
been there once.
Zeese: Where were you based in Iraq, what was your role there?
Resta: I served as a combat medic in a tank battalion. My job varied
from day to day, but basically it was doing on of these three things:
going on convoys to other camps to get supplies, going on patrols of
towns or highways, or working in our three bed ER where we saw
everything from the cold/flu to sprained ankles to gunshot wounds.
Zeese: What did you see in Iraq that convinced you that the U.S.
Resta: Pretty much everything I saw in Iraq convinced that US forces
needed to leave. The in your face hypocrisy of this occupation was the
most disturbing thing for me. Being told I was risking my life to help
the Iraqi people and then getting over there and being told the
Pentagon had set policy so no Iraqi could be treated unless they were
about to die. The hypocrisy of the occupation was evident when I was
told we were going to help rebuild Iraq and then watched as the only
things being rebuilt were Saddam's military bases to prepare for a
permanent US military presence. Every reason this administration gave
to justify our presence in Iraq was the exact opposite of what was
going on. While in the towns I would talk to Iraqis hoping to hear
something that would make the sacrifices of my fellow soldiers worth
it. What I found is that we are neither wanted nor welcome. The Iraqi
people don't trust us and they don't want us there. Poll after poll
has made that clear.
Zeese: The major argument for staying in Iraq is if the U.S. leaves
there will be greater chaos. How do you see this -- is the U.S.
minimizing the chaos in Iraq?
Resta: I always ask people to describe the situation now. Is it not
chaos? To me the definition of a civil war is when people from a
country kill other people from that country. That's what happening now
in Iraq. US troops are the problem, not the solution. We are reliving
the Vietnam War now and it's sad. We're reliving it because the people
in power didn't learn anything from that event. They were too busy
dreaming up ways to dodge the draft.
Tank battalions will never rebuild power and water purification plants
no matter how long they stay in Iraq. Halliburton and Bechtel didn't
build Iraq, so why are they rebuilding it? If you really want Iraqis
to have democracy let them run their own affairs. When you break
something in a store you don't sit there with crazy glue trying to
piece it back together. And you most certainly don't run around with a
bat breaking more things. What you do is apologize, write them a
check, and get out before you do anymore damage.
Zeese: Did you get any sense when you were in Iraq that the U.S. is
planning a long-term stay in the country or are we planning a brief
stay until things calm down in the country?
Resta: If you go back and look you can see members of this
administration talking about an invasion and long occupation of Iraq
as long as a decade ago. As I said earlier I saw plenty of bases being
built for a permanent US military presence. Things like barracks like
you would see back here in the States. While I was in Iraq the Air
Force opened up what was referred to as a "million dollar gym" at a
base outside Baghdad. I never saw the receipts, but it sounds about
right to me. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools. It was incredible to
watch it happening and then hear the spin from the American press. You
can even go to www.globalsecurity.org and find the specifics of the
plan, including what units are going to Iraq for the next few years.
Zeese:: Describe the purpose of Iraq Veterans Against the War, how
many members you have, what some of your upcoming projects are.
Resta: Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW, www.ivaw.net ) has a
pretty simple platform. It's ending the occupation, making sure our
government gives the veterans of this conflict the care that they are
owed, and real aid for the people of Iraq. We have about 300 members
ranging from privates to colonels. Some are still active duty, others
are current members of the National Guard and Reserve, and some have
just gotten out of the military. Those of us that are comfortable
speaking out do so often. We're working in a lot of other areas as
well, like ending stop loss, counter recruiting, and trying to create
a fair and honest conscientious objector process within the military.
* Kevin Zeese is a director of DemocracyRising.US. You can comment on
this blog by visiting his blog spot at http://www:DemocracyRising.US
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