Patty in the News

President Barack Obama plans to announce Wednesday night the withdrawal of more than 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by the November 2012 election, hastening the end of the long conflict that has been more costly than ever envisioned when launched in response to the 2001 attacks on America.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday to remind the president of the costs of war to service members and their families.

"We are seeing suicide rates that are much higher among active duty service members and veterans than among civilians. We are finding they are having trouble accessing the mental health care so many of them desperately need," Murray said.

The senator also said we owe it to our military to assist them in looking for work when they return home.

"Mr. President, far too many of our service members have sacrificed life and limb overseas and we must honor them and their sacrifices by making sure we take care of them and their caregivers not just today, and not just when they come home, but for a lifetime," Murray said. "That is going to be expensive. I am going to fight to make sure it happens and I think it ought to be considered as we think about the war in Afghanistan."

In an address from the White House, Obama was expected to say that he was withdrawing 10,000 troops by the end of this year, according to administration and Pentagon officials. He aims to bring an additional 20,000 home by the end of next year, accounting for basically all the extra forces he ordered to Afghanistan in late 2009 to turn around a flailing war effort.

The initial withdrawal is expected to happen in two phases, with 5,000 troops coming home this summer and an additional 5,000 by the end of the year, a senior U.S. defense official said.

Still, that would leave some 70,000 U.S. troops in unstable Afghanistan in a war bound to see more American lives lost. The United States and its NATO allies hope to end the combat mission and fully turn over control to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, a transition period that may finally bring the war to an end.