By Bryan Navarro
ROGUE RIVER, Ore. — The protest at Sunday’s NATO meeting was emotionally charged as recent veterans symbolically, and angrily returned their service medals.
Outside of the NATO conference, veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan protested by dramatically returning their medals, throwing them on the ground. It was about 45 veterans who said their medals were worth nothing because the war they fought in was wrong. They spoke about their hurt and pain, then turned and threw their medals toward the building where the conference was happening.
Inside the Rogue River VFW post in Southern Oregon, veterans’ reactions to the peaceful, but emotionally charged protest were split on the issue; some supporting those veterans and some not.
“And if a veteran is feeling what he’s done doesn’t’ have the meaning, that medal doesn’t have the meaning, then there’s got to be a reason for it,” says Steve Robertson, who is retired from U.S. Marine Corps
“They’re showing their frustration with this government. Not real crazy about the way they did it,” Andy Prudhon, also retired from the U.S. Marine Corps.
Some of the protesters said there is not enough support for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Jeanne Alexander says VFW posts like the one in Rogue River can provide much needed support.
“I’ve dealt with PTSD all my life because my father being in the Battle of the Bulge, I think they called it shell shock back then. Same thing; my son has it. I never wanted him to grow up with it as well,” says Alexander.
One local vet pointed out that there were only about four dozen protestors – a small percentage of recent veterans. Every veteran NewsWatch12 spoke with, no matter if they agreed or disagreed with the protest, said the protesters had the right to speak out and that’s one of the rights that soldiers fight for and protect.