Ethan Mccord and Josh Stieber, Iraq veterans, were in the Army unit responsible for the incident in the WikiLeaks "Collateral Murder" video have released an open letter to Iraqis injured in the attack.
Ethan was on the ground at the scene of the shooting, and is seen on the video rushing one of the injured children to a U.S. Vehicle; "When I saw those kids, all I could picture was my kids back home". Ethan applied for mental health support following this incident and was denied by his commanding officer.
Josh Stieber was not at the scene of the shooting but says similar incidents happened throughout his 14-month tour; "The acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war."
Josh states that these casualties demonstrate the impact of U.S. military policy on both the civilians and the soldiers on the ground.
From the letter:
There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.
We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.
We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of "god and country". The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn't have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.
More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.
The value of the WikiLeaks video is just this: bringing to light the nature of war and what the men and women fighting it experience. The value in the release of the video is the value in these veterans being able to talk about what they witnessed, what they participated in openly. It's truth that we as an entire nation needs to face, if nothing else than to understand what these scarred veterans experienced as we welcome them home.