NEW ORLEANS -- The Iraq War left more than 4,000 Americans dead and 32,000 wounded. CBS News reports that more than 100,000 Iraqis also lost their lives.
For war veterans returning home, picking up the pieces can be a struggle.
However, a group of local vets has taken on a special mission to help other vets with that process.
"About 10 years ago today, I was sitting with packed bags at Camp Lejeune awaiting orders to go to Iraq," said Nola VFW Commander Marshall Hevron.
It's not hard for Hevron to recount his six-month tour of duty with the Marine Corps Reserve in Iraq.
"We were part of the initial invasion force, although we didn't get there until the tail-end of the invasion and then we served occupation duty," said Hevron.
"I served with the initial stryker brigade out of Ft. Lewis. We came in after the initial invasion," said Iraq war veteran Dylan Tete.
Since returning home both Iraq War veterans have rallied around an Uptown building hoping it can help others heal.
"Imagine someone who when they were 18-years-old joined the Marine Corps or the Army. They spent four to six years in service, saw a couple tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan and really saw the horrors of war first hand and now they're back home," said Hevron of returning war veterans.
Now both he and Tete are helping breathing new life into the VFW Post at Lyons and Annunciation Streets. Their goal is to fix up the building, offer classes and support to returning vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; and help the community.
"A combination of rebuilding purpose, rebuilding lives, rebuilding our veterans support network in New Orleans," said Tete of their mission.
Those efforts are paying off. The Nola VFW says in the last two years membership has grown from five to well over 100 members.
As the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion comes and goes, two soldiers share in their words what the milestone truly means to them.
"I don't think anyone 10 years ago would have forecast or predicted that a) We would have been there that long and most importantly the effect of trauma and loss," said Tete.
"I think it's a good opportunity for us to pause and remember that the nation has a sacred duty to the men and women who fought these wars. To make sure that when they come home they're made whole again, to make sure when they come home they get the benefits this country has promised them," said Hevron.
The Nola VFW is holding a special free legal clinic for veterans needing legal help this Thursday, March 21 from noon to 4 p.m. at at VFW Post 8973 located at 531 Lyons Street. For more information click here.