Thursday marks the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the group Veterans for Peace is marking the day at its 30th annual conference held in San Diego.
The theme of the convention at the Town and Country Hotel is "Peace and Reconciliation in the Pacific,” but the topics this group of veterans and supporters are discussing encompass conflicts from around the globe.
The group of about 350 veterans collectively says diplomacy should be a priority, and it does not support airstrikes or troops in Iraq.
Veterans of recent conflicts told NBC 7 the U.S. should look at ways to support the people of Iraq with materials to bring progress instead of boots on the ground.
William Griffin served in the Army during the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, which man veterans look at as a move that won the war in Iraq. But Griffin does not see it that way.
“Clearly it wasn’t a success if you look at ISIS and all the areas that they have taken over today,” he said.
He said since leaving the military, he has learned “that war is a supreme failure of nations to communicate to solve problems.”
The Veterans for Peace said they would like to see the United Nations negotiate the end of the civil war in Syria. Members also support the Iran nuclear deal, saying it is in the best interest of the world to reach a non-violent agreement.
Many visited the conference to remind people about the cost of war: the financial and, more importantly, human costs.
“It's more than just the money that we spend on the military, and for war, it's also the people that we send to war and we sometimes have to sacrifice. And we want folks to know the full cost of war and how devastating it can be,” said Gloria Daviston, an instructor and basic training drill sergeant who spent seven and a half years in the Army.
Jake Bridge, a Marine first lieutenant who was recently honorably discharged as a conscientious observer, said he witnessed a climate of violence in the military.
When he recognized it in himself, he turned to Buddhism to help him change.
“When I saw that, I realized that I wasn't part of the solution, and I thought that joining the military was… and I saw that violence was a cycle,” he said. “I realized that I had to remove myself from it because I don't want to create violence. I want to create peace, and I saw that violence just won't get us there.”
The group is having a ceremony on Sunday to mark the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The convention and the ceremony are free and open to the public.