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Veterans group to protest deployment of wounded soldiers

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The rally took place on the anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan
  • Group says redeploying wounded soldiers has led to many suicides

Washington (CNN) -- A group of war veterans angry about what they call the unacceptable practice of deploying wounded soldiers back into war zones protested Thursday, the ninth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.

Members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered outside Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington as part of an effort called Operation Recovery that seeks to stop the deployment of troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and other problems.

They started Thursday's rally with a moment of silence before placing 10 roses -- one for each anniversary and one for the upcoming year -- on a sign at the hospital.

"The roses are to signify each year that we have been in Afghanistan," said Spc. Zach Choate.

Video: 'Leaving Afghanistan will be messy'

The group of about 14 veterans planned to march six miles to Capitol Hill, where a news conference was scheduled for later in the day.

Earlier, Ethan McCord, an Iraq war veteran, said, "I was denied treatment for the mental and physical wounds I sustained in battle, like so many others."

He added, "This campaign is critical for soldiers because we are asserting our right to heal. Now, the government has a choice -- will it recognize our right to heal, or continue to deny it?"