Maine military mom sees no end to war in near future

Posted Dec. 01, 2009, at 9:28 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Carole Whelan decided early not to watch President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night prime-time announcement of his plan for the war in Afghanistan.

“I’m tired,” the 63-year-old Whelan said. “I’ve been around a long time, and I think that I’m really tired of the propaganda that is given to the American population in lieu of the truth about what’s really going on.”

Whelan’s life has been touched by war more than many.

“I am the daughter, the sister, the wife and mother of war veterans,” she said. Her father was a bomber pilot in World War II, her brother was a Marine during the Vietnam War, and her husband also served in Vietnam, with the Air Force.

Now, her son, whose name, age, location and military branch she did not want to reveal for fear of repercussions he may face because of her anti-war opinions, is an active member of the military, and has been deployed overseas twice.

The Hope, Maine, resident has been active with an advocacy organization called Military Families Speak Out, and was formerly a chapter leader for the group. She said she never actively protested war until the Iraq invasion began, and then began writing letters, lobbying members of Congress and attending anti-war rallies in Maine and Washington, D.C.

Before American troops were sent to Iraq, she said, “I was in my own little world in Maine, doing organic farming and gardening and having a lovely little peaceful life.”

Then came the deployments and another war in the Middle East.

“I had hoped that the country learned after Vietnam, that we would never do that again,” she said, after explaining how disillusioned she was in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. “Well, there’s a whole new generation of people who don’t know better. And every generation seems to have to learn that lesson all over again.”

The burden of the billions of dollars spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq trouble Whelan, she said, but more than that, the toll on the members of the military and their families, and the lack of appreciation and understanding from the civilian population bother her.

She said she feels as though she’s talking to a wall when she tries to speak with Maine’s members of Congress about the war that she feels will go on for “a very long time.”

“When war is declared ended for the troops, it doesn’t end for the veterans and the families,” Whelan said. “It just doesn’t end. It goes down through generations of trauma, and just never ends.”

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