Marking the 20-year anniversary of start of Operation Iraqi Freedom

March 20, 2023, marks the 20-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

OIF, commonly known as the Iraq War, was authorized when Iraq was found to be in breach of a United Nations’ Security Council resolution that “prohibits stockpiling and importing” weapons of mass destruction. The coalition began with preemptive airstrikes on Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace and military targets, followed by nearly 70,000 ground troops and 15,000 warships in the region.

Marines and guests standing in front of memorial for fallen iraqi freedom veterans

U.S. Marines and honored guests lay a wreath in remembrance to the fallen Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (2/5) memorial service in the San Mateo Memorial Garden aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 11, 2014. This service marked the 10th anniversary of all 2/5 Marines and sailors lost in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ismael E. Ortega/Released)

On Dec. 15, 2011, after nearly nine years of conflict, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top U.S. military leaders observed the official end to OIF. According to the Department of Defense, nearly 4,500 U.S. military personnel were killed and nearly 32,000 wounded in the Iraq War.

VA estimates that more than 3.6M Veterans served in the Post-9/11 era.

Many Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans have health problems due to toxic chemicals, shrapnel, explosions, other head trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VA’s health care and other resources are accessible to eligible OIF Veterans.

“We honorably served and did what was asked of us. But what we experienced in Iraq did not stay in Iraq. VA stands ready to care for you with anything related to your Iraq deployments. Thanks to the PACT Act, many more Veterans and conditions are eligible for care. Do not wait until your impact is visible. If you were in Iraq, you were likely exposed to burn pits. Come in now for a toxic exposure screening. After 20 years of serving Iraq Veterans, no one knows how to care for you better than VA,” said Tanya Bradsher, VA’s chief of staff, U.S. Army and Iraq War Veteran.

military convoy

U.S. Army soldiers with the Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, deliver guard towers that the Iraqi national police used in the city of Samarra, Iraq.

All Iraq Veterans should consider applying or reapplying for the health care and benefits they have earned. Visit www.va.gov/PACT, call 1-800-MyVA411, or find a local facility to get started. Download the Accessing new toxic exposure health care and benefits guide to consider your options.

As we commemorate the 20-year anniversary of OIF, Veterans and their families can help spread the word about the benefits many OIF Veterans have available to them. Download and print PACT Act outreach materials and fact sheets.

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