We joined Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace last week in sending an open letter we sent an to the Congressional Leadership – Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate hopefuls embrace nuking filibuster Biden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary MORE, Speaker of the House Representative Nancy Pelosi, majority whips, and committee chairs – urging them to use their Constitutional "power of the purse" to de-fund the war and bring it to an end.

Together our organizations represent military and Gold Star families; Veterans of the Iraq War; current servicemen and women including Active Duty, National Guard, Reserves and Individual Ready Reserves; Vietnam Veterans and Veterans of other eras. Our members have all been impacted by this war, some of us directly, and some because of what we know from combat in other wars. We all believe that the U.S. military occupation of Iraq must be brought to an immediate end. The people of the United States voted for a change in Congressional leadership last November, due in large part to the desire to see the disaster in Iraq come to an end.  Congress now has the opportunity to end this unjust war and bring our troops home. But as we write this letter, it appears that this is an opportunity that they are prepared to squander.

As military and Gold Star families and as Veterans of the Iraq and other wars, we understand the difference between "de-funding the war" and "de-funding the troops". In fact, voting more funds for this war would be abandoning our troops. It would leave them with the possibility of joining the over 3,160 who have died as a result of a war that should never have started, or the tens of thousands who have been wounded physically, psychologically, or both. 

There is a tragic parallel here with the Vietnam War. The last 28,000 troops who died in that war were abandoned to political game-playing long after Congress and the President knew that it was time to bring the troops home. This was a tragedy that must not be allowed to be repeated.

Leadership from Congress is needed now more than ever. Congress has the power to tell American people the truth about President Bush's funding request. President Bush is not asking for more funds for the troops. He is asking for more funds to continue a war that should never have happened. Congress must stand strong and explain that there are sufficient funds available to bring our troops home quickly and safely, and that if more funds are ever needed, monies can be re-programmed from the Department of Defense budget for this purpose.

Congressional leaders: It is not too late for you to do the right thing. Stand strong and fight to bring our troops home. Stop telling us that you don't have the votes, and work with us to secure them. That is what leaders do.