Iraq, Afghanistan vets to hand back medals at NATO summit

(USA TODAY)   Thirty to 50 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars may have fought hard for or suffered for their medals, but this weekend, they plan to hand those medals back during the NATO summit in Chicago, MSNBC reports.

The group will stage the demonstration in protest of the war on terror, according to the itinerary for Sunday published on the blog Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The group will convene at 10 a.m. for music and speeches and at 3 p.m. march to the convention center where the NATO meeting will take place to return the medals, according to the intinerary.

If they are unable to hand their medals to NATO officials, they will toss them toward the convention center, MSNBC reports.

“We, Afghanistan and Iraq veterans from around the country will converge in Chicago on May 20 to ceremoniously return our medals to NATO generals,” according to the blog. “We were awarded these medals for serving in the Global War on Terror, a war based on lies and failed policies. This endless war has killed hundreds of thousands, stripped the humanity of all involved, and drained our communities of trillions of dollars, diverting funds from schools, clinics, libraries, and other public goods.”

Steven Acheson, 27, a college student in Wisconsin, is one of those who plans to hand back his medal this weekend, according to MSNBC. Acheson told the news organization that he spent five years in the Army, including more than a year in Iraq, and that he suffers from post0-traumatic stress disorder.

“I feel like this is a really good way for me to kind of, not clear my conscience, but just take a step in the direction of healing and kind of reconciling with the Afghan people and the Iraq people,” Acheson told MSNBC.

A government spokesman told MSNBC the veterans are free to do what they want with their medals.

“We’re very proud of the service rendered by our soldiers and veterans, and they are free to do with their awards and decorations as they please,” Army spokesman George Wright told MSNBC in an email.

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