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George Scott's message on the anniversary of 9-11

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an event that has dominated much of our public discourse and our public policy since. We will lower our flags to half-staff. We will observe moments of silence. There will be memorial services at Ground Zero; at the Pentagon; at Shanksville, PA, where we will honor the memories of those who died in the attacks, and the courage and sacrifice of those first responders who perished in the search and rescue operations that followed. That is all as it should be.

But, sixteen years later, the cost of those attacks is not limited to the loss of life that occurred that day; or the cost of rebuilding in New York and Arlington. Today the cost includes nearly 7,000 members of our Armed Forces, and more than one trillion of our US dollars spent on military operations -- funds that could have been used for other purposes, purposes that would have benefited our entire nation. In 2001, few of us contemplated the possibility that sixteen years later we would still be fighting the “war on terror”with no end in sight. Yet, here we are.

While we are unquestionably safer due to the tireless efforts of our military, our law enforcement, and our intelligence community, it is not unreasonable to ask, “How much longer?” and “How many more lives?”
As a veteran who has served for over four years in the Middle East, I am well aware of the sacrifices these men and women have made and continue to make. For the last sixteen years, their lives have become an endless cycle of deployment, followed by a period of rest and recovery, and then, preparing for another deployment. They have endured upheaval in their family lives; experienced reductions in their benefits; and, too often, those wounded or suffering from PTSD have received substandard care.

As a Middle East specialist, I understand how difficult nation building is in Iraq and Afghanistan and the grim prospects for a lasting peace there. As one who has studied terrorism, insurgency, and counter-insurgency, I know that victory is elusive, and that such conflicts rarely have clear endstates. Even so, our Congress and our President are elected to deal with these difficulties, and we look to them for answers.

Our nation's military has been stretched too thin for too long. As your representative in Congress, I will draw on my experience to advocate for a clearly defined end state to our military operations, set the criteria for success, and bring our servicemen and women home. In the meantime, we must provide the resources they need to accomplish their mission and preserve their well-deserved reputation as the world's finest military.

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