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Iraq War Veteran Reflects As 10th Anniversary Of Invasion Is Met With Bloodshed

CBS News Correspondent Cami McCormick Weighs In On Anniversary
People look at the remains of a car bomb explosion near the fortified "Green Zone" in the Capital Baghdad, on March 19, 2013. (credit: SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)

People look at the remains of a car bomb explosion near the fortified “Green Zone” in the Capital Baghdad, on March 19, 2013. (credit: SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Tuesday marks 10 years to the day since then-President George W. Bush announced the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Insurgents marked the day with a series of deadly attacks. At least 65 people were killed, making it the deadliest day in Iraq so far this year.

An Iraq War veteran now working on Wall Street was there the day the airstrikes began in Iraq.

Roland Tomforde was a 31-year-old Yale educated Marine Captain driving into Iraq exactly ten years ago.

“Life was sort of like a cliff in front of you and there was no telling what was going to happen,” Tomforde told WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell. “It was shocking and troubling to see an entire nation sort of Katrina-ized.”

“The veneer of civilization is stripped away,” Tomforde said. “Just think about how much money we’ve spent on infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan and we don’t do it in our own country.”

Tomforde spent four-and-a-half months in Iraq but struggled once he returned home, Haskell reported.

“I had like, I would just call it a nervous breakdown, I guess,” Tomforde told Haskell. “That was a profound, soul-shuddering thing.”

Tomforde said it was tough to adjust to an environment where you don’t feel safe walking down the street. He said it took him three years to overcome that.

“I’ve learned to be happy on a day-to-day basis,” Tomforde told Haskell.

He now works in investor relations.

CBS News Correspondent Cami McCormick was injured in a fatal roadside bombing while covering the war in Afghanistan. She said her injury has given her a unique perspective in looking at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a civilian.

“It’s interesting how few generals we have heard from on this anniversary of the Iraq invasion. I have reached out to a few of them and very few of them want to talk about it. It may be because it’s still such a hot-button issue to so many Americans,” McCormick told WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot.

McCormick, an amputee, spent a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington recovering from her injuries.

“There’s not a morning that will go by that they won’t think about Iraq or Afghanistan and what happened to them simply because their injuries will be a constant reminder,” McCormick told Cabot.

MORE: CBS News Coverage Of 10th Anniversary | McCormick’s Take

The symbolism of Tuesday’s attacks was strong, coming 10 years to the day, Washington time, that Bush announced the start of hostilities against Iraq. It was already early March 20, 2003, in Iraq when the airstrikes began.

The military action quickly ousted Saddam Hussein but led to years of bloodshed as Sunni and Shiite militants battled U.S. forces and each other, leaving nearly 4,500 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis dead.

A decade later, Iraq’s long-term stability and the strength of its democracy are uncertain. While the country is freer than it was during Saddam’s murderous rule, its Shiite-led government is arguably closer to Tehran than to Washington. It faces an outpouring of anger by the Sunni minority that was dominant under Saddam and at the heart of the insurgency that followed his ouster.

“Today’s attacks are new proof that the politicians and security officials are a huge failure,” said Hussein Abdul-Khaliq, a resident of Baghdad’s Shiite slum district of Sadr City, which was hit by three explosions that killed 10 people, including three commuters on a minibus.

The apparently coordinated attacks around the country included car bombs and explosives stuck to the underside of vehicles. They targeted government security forces and mainly Shiite areas.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Iraqi officials believe al Qaeda’s Iraq arm is to blame. The terror group favors car bombs and coordinated bombings to undermine public confidence in the government. It has claimed it was behind two large-scale, well-coordinated attacks already this month, including an assault on the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad last week that left 30 dead.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)