A different perspective

Ana Mihajlovic

Iraq war veteran relives experiences, voices opposition to it

Chad Salamon spoke to about 40 students on Wednesday evening in the

Student Center about the war in Iraq. Salamon served in Iraq as a member of the Ohio National Guard and is now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The speech was sponsored by t

Credit: Andrew popik

Iraq war veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Chad Salamon shared his experiences and views on American involvement in Iraq Wednesday night in the Student Center.

Students and community members showed support for the troops by questioning the war’s purpose and circumstances.

Some students went to hear the side of the story not frequently mentioned before forming their own opinions.

“I’m against the war in general, and we always hear the same rhetoric,” said David Zamos, senior bio-chemistry major. “I wanted to hear something different and hear it from someone with first-hand experience.”

Hearing it from someone who served in Iraq was especially important for justice studies major Tiffany Crawford too.

“I have relatives in the service now, and that’s why I wanted to see what he has to say,” Crawford said.

Salamon’s wife, Jessica, said she understands the pain families go through because her husband did not get the chance to say good-bye before leaving.

“We couldn’t even see our families to say good-bye before going to Iraq,” Chad Salamon said. “The military has little respect for the families of soldiers.”

The hardest part of this experience for Salamon was breaking the news about deployment to his wife.

“I remember driving home and thinking how am I going to tell my wife I was leaving to go to Iraq for 18 months,” he said.

Salamon, who was only 17 when deciding to join the Ohio National Guard, worked as a mechanic in a medical unit and handled emergency situations.

“I was in charge of guarding dead bodies and bringing them to the morgue,” he said.

Salamon does not consider soliders’ deaths justifiable and blames the war on the government.

“All the chaos over there is a result of our occupation, ” Salamon said.

Upon his return home on June 15, 2004, Salamon joined IVAW. He saw this opportunity as a way to express his concern about soldiers still there and opposition to the war he believes to be “not only foolish and dangerous, but wrong.”

This was one of the reasons the Kent State Anti-War Committee chose to invite Salamon to speak.

“Soldiers historically have had a large presence in the anti-war movement,” said Noah Learned, a committee member. “It is important to show students that not all soldiers are pro-war.”

Each person has an opinion about the war, including the soldiers serving overseas.

“There’s a divided viewpoint over there just like here,” Salamon said.

While in Iraq, Salamon did not encounter anything negative when speaking out against the war. He frequently had discussions with officers, although their viewpoints were usually extremely different.

“There’s a tendency mong officers to be very supportive of the war or act supportive, but people were open-minded and allowed to speak out,” he said.

Salamon said there are different levels of support someone can show to support the troops.

“Simply throwing a yellow ribbon or a flag on your car doesn’t show support. This hasn’t helped anyone over there,” Salamon said. “Supporting the troops means actually doing something about it.”

As for his expectations about the future, Salamon said he believes the invasion of Iran may be on the horizon.

“Now that it’s his last term and he has nothing to worry about, who knows what’s going to happen. Iran could be our next target.”

Salamon, who still has friends in Iraq, said he believes that in order to bring troops home safely, the war must end immediately.

“Soldiers that I’ve seen over there want nothing more than to come home to their families,” he said.

Contact non-traditional students reporter Ana Mihajlovic at [email protected].