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Local Veterans Reflect On Iraq War Anniversary

Posted at: 03/19/2013 7:01 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a milestone in a bloody military conflict.

It was ten years ago that a US-led invasion started the war in Iraq.

Today, some local soldiers reflected on the war.

"One of the big things was the culture shock, the way they go about their day to day life," said veteran Hans Gilbert.

He has served deployments to Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. And he’s willing to go back.

"If I was back in the guard right now, which I'm working on and they asked me to go, I would go."

"50 percent of our military is Guard and Reserve," Austin veteran Norm Hecimovich told us.

And a military force made up largely of citizen soldiers led to creation of programs to prepare them for whatever comes next.

“Because adjusting from military life to civilian life is very difficult," Hecimovich said.

“The state became a national role model with how they treated and their reintegration for their soldiers" veteran Hans Gilbert added.

“We need a lot more psychological training when they make their adjustments. those are some of the things we've learned, and that we do have a lot more people with injuries, long-term injuries," Norm Hecimovich said. He served in Iraq in the early 1990's.

“Looking for jobs to giving us information on post traumatic stress and that kind of thing," Hans Gilbert said.

"Back in Vietnam they handed you your discharge papers and said have a good life. now they hand you your discharge papers and show you how to have a good life, give you the tools," Hecimovich said.

A recent poll found that 53 percent of Americans now believe the war was a mistake. But they overwhelmingly support the soldiers.

"So the fact that Iraq is in a place, as difficult as its challenges remain, where it has the potential for a better future, is due in no small measure

to the sacrifice and service of American men and women," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on the tenth anniversary of the start of the war.

"That American flag that is flying is the symbol that holds us together as a United States," Austin veteran Norm Hecimovich added.

About 4,500 American soldiers have died during the ten year war.