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John Bair
John Bair
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Honoring Our Troops: WNY I AM

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Artist’s rendering of the Western New York Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial

The Department of Defense released an updated casualty status[1] today that listed the number of military casualties to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).  U.S. military casualties involved in OIF total 4,410; U.S. military casualties serving in Afghanistan as a part of OEF total 2,176 (133 additional military personnel have fallen in other locations as a part of OEF.

For those who don’t have any loved ones involved in ongoing military engagements, it can be easy to forget that every day, we still have men and women who bravely serve in the name of freedom.  For the families and friends of those who serve, numbers like those released by the DoD are very personal.  It’s a sacrifice that is difficult to comprehend, and one that should be honored.

On May 10, 2014, a Walk for Warriors event will be held to raise funds for the Western New York Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial Effort (WNY I AM). Funds raised by the WNY I AM initiative will go towards building a memorial site in the Buffalo Naval and Military Park, where a site has been selected and a design has been chosen.

The memorial design (photo above) will incorporate the names of the residents of Western New York counties who have died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  WNY IAM has posted a list on their website of fallen Western New Yorkers who have served since 9/11.  Per the site, families of those lost who believe their loved one should be added to the list, or who would like to request that their loved one’s name be edited should contact wnyiam@gmail.com.

As someone who served in the military and grew up in a military family, this is a cause that is close to my heart.  As the weather warms up, I encourage you to seek out events in your area that support veterans and fallen soldiers.


[1] The report also included the number of casualties involved in Operation New Dawn.