(Photo:Flickr/U.S. Army Alaska)

A majority of U.S. troops in Iraq will be returning home by Dec. 31, but the ramifications of Operation Iraqi Freedom will last long after the withdrawal for many families.

As The Washington Post reports, the families and loved ones of the more than 4,400 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict are already struggling, but the organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) believes that the upcoming months will prove especially challenging emotionally for them. “The final withdrawal of troops from Iraq drives home the finality of death to a family,” TAPS said in a statement.

“It’s not over for us in December,” said spokesperson Ami Neiberger-Miller. “There are a lot of people who have been impacted by Iraq. … The impact of loss is long term. It’s not something they just get over.”

TAPS estimates that approximately 2,465 people lost their spouses, 3,137 children lost a parent, 8,964 parents lost a child, 13,446 individuals lost a grandchild and 3,675 lost a brother or sister.

Read the rest of The Washington Post article

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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