“Operation Welcome Home”: Is It Welcome If You Have to Petition For it?

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The June 1991 ticker-tape parade in New York honoring returning veterans of the first Persian Gulf War

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is pressing the White House to welcome soldiers coming home from Iraq with parades – even though the Administration has said it would prefer to wait for all combat troops, including those in Afghanistan, to come home first.

“Now is the time to remember those we’ve lost, respect those who’ve served, and respond to the issues they’re facing at home,” the IAVA says in its online petition, which has more than 20,000 supporters. “Stand with IAVA Members nationwide to organize a single national day of action, coordinating the efforts of cities and towns nationwide to celebrate our nation’s newest heroes and connect them with the resources they have earned.”

The White House is going to honor Iraq vets with a dinner in the Executive Mansion, but that’s “only a start,” says IAVA chief Paul Rieckhoff. “It’s a wonderful gesture from the First Family and an incredible honor for the few invited to attend,” he adds. “But unfortunately, one million vets of Iraq can’t pack into the East Room on February 29th.”

Rieckhoff argues there needs to be a “National Day of Action,” and IAVA thinks Obama should summon the nation’s mayors to meet and plan such an event. Sounds like a good idea. It’d be an even better idea if it weren’t a veterans’ group pressuring to make it happen.