USU hosting panel discussions commemorating ninth anniversary of Iraq war

An event Monday at Utah State University, “Out of Iraq”, is a series of panels and programs to discuss the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on the nine-year anniversary of the start of the combat. “Matthew LaPlante of the USU Journalism and Communications Department contacted me about providing a way to commemorate and talk about what Iraq has meant to people,” said Army Maj. Matthew Badell, USU’s ROTC Commander and head of the Military Science Department. “We discussed getting a diverse panel together to share their opinions and experiences and various perspectives.” Maj. Badell said LaPlante, a USU journalism faculty member, spearheaded “Out of Iraq” as a way for those affected by the war to come together and talk about their experiences. LaPlante is a former national security reporter who served as an embedded journalist in war zones. “I was also interested to find out that he spent some time in the Navy, in the Gulf years before, so he is also a fellow Vet,” said Badell. “This war has been, to a greater and lesser extent for each of us, an important part of our lives for the past nine years,” said LaPlante. “Now that the United States has withdrawn its forces, what we’d like to do is help develop an honest and safe dialogue about what this war meant to America and to the USU community.” Afternoon and evening events are scheduled at the Taggart Student Center Auditorium, including discussion panels and photo exhibits by war photographers. Panelists at the 6 p.m. event will include a former soldier, USU alumni and anti-war activist Marshall Thompson; USU Middle East politics expert Selin Guner; USU Extension office agent Lyle Holmgren; former CIA senior intelligence officer and USU adjunct professor Larry Boothe and USU comparative politics professor Steve Sharp. Also, organizers are encouraging students and community members whose lives were impacted by the war to participate in the 1 p.m. forum. “We appreciate Tony Flores of the Veterans Outreach here on campus,” said Maj. Badell. “He helped us identify vets who would want to volunteer to spend their time and share their perspectives with everyone attending. We have some Marines, some Army and Air Force people who will be on hand and we’re trying to find some Iraqi students on campus to get a full, diverse view of this war.” The public is invited to attend all events.

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