Iraq war veteran Steven Acheson will engage in the rarest of protests this weekend: He will hand back his military service medals at the NATO summit in Chicago, an act one veteran calls "disgraceful."
Acheson, who served for five years in the Army, including more than a year in Iraq that he says left him with PTSD and nightmares, is taking this step to protest the "war on terror" and the force leading it, NATO. He will be joined by a few dozen veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are concerned about the wars' fallout on veterans and civilians alike.
"I feel like this is a really good way for me to kind of, not clear my conscience, but just make a step in the direction of healing and kind of reconciling with the Afghan people and the Iraq people,” said Acheson, a 27-year-old college student from Wisconsin and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which includes soldiers who served in any of the post- 9/11 conflict zones. “… and let them know that we’re standing by their side and we’re not standing with NATO anymore. We don’t agree with the policies that are driving these wars.”