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CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION~JONES BEACH MAY 26, 2007

Editor's Coment

There is only one way to overcome the mental & emotional stress of soldiers due to their participation in the Iraq & Afganistan War. And that is to counsel such soldiers to join the peace movement. In this way the wrongs that they experienced and perhaps even engaged in are taken up in the transcendent cause of peace. Unconscionable Acts  & unforgetable & unforgivable experiences that haunt such soldiers become the leven for a new purpose for living, giving and contributing to a World at peace. They must embrace the cause of peace & justice with the same level of commitment, energy and passion with which they volunteered for the mayhem of war!
 
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*Free Counseling for Soldiers and Their Families
The Soldiers Project, which started in California and is now on Long Island, is a group of volunteer psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage counselors, and family therapists
Who provide free, confidential counseling for military service members of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and for their families. Veterans and their wives, husbands, children, parents, and other loved ones are all affected by military service and the challenges of returning home. Project Soldier can make the transitions easier. For further information, call (toll free) 1-877-576-5343, email info@thesoldersproject.org, or visit www.thesoldiersproject.org.

 

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Iraq Veterans Against the WarSupport Our Work: Donate Now

Dear Joseph,

While many spend Veterans' Day remembering loved ones lost, from the perspective of a veteran, the holiday feels largely superficial. Cities across the nation are draped in yellow, thousands will march down the streets in parades, and people will talk a lot about a vague notion of "honor." Putting yellow ribbons on our wounds does not change the fact that every 65 minutes a veteran dies from suicide. That's 22 per day, and in the past 2 months, 2 of those have been members of IVAW - my friends. It is impossible to ignore.

I have been a member of IVAW since 2008. At my first national IVAW gathering, I was astounded to meet so many veterans who shared my political perspectives as well as my experiences and struggles as a veteran. I gained a new family and the support system I most needed as I transitioned back into civilian life. As a single parent struggling to make ends meet, IVAW was critical to my survival.

My story is not unique. Over the past 6 years, I have heard so many IVAW members express the way in which this community has literally saved their lives. This veterans day, please consider making a gift to an organization that matters to veterans. Donate to IVAW today.

Unfortunately, we cannot save everyone, as we learned with sorrow this fall. Until this nation starts prioritizing healing as much or more as we prioritize militarism, this pattern will never be interrupted. In 2015, the government plans to spend about 55% of tax revenue on the military, while spending only about 5% on veterans.

In the meantime, 20-40% of veterans with multiple deployments suffer from symptoms of traumatic brain injury, 30-50% return with PTSD, and about 30% of women in the military experience sexual assault. Instead of increasing spending to help veterans heal from traumatic injury, the DoD is handing out bad conduct discharges (also known as "bad papers") at an alarming rate for discrepancies that could have been solved with treatment, or that should have been processed as medical discharges.

Bad papers result in a loss of benefits, so that those who often need support the most have none. As a part of our Operation Recovery campaign, which lasted from 2010 - 2014, organizers from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Civilian Soldier Alliance, and Under the Hood interviewed hundreds of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. From these, they compiled a report that includes 31 testimonies from soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, findings, analysis, and recommendations. 

The Fort Hood Report sheds light on harmful military practices that are disturbing enough to make the case to cease current practices immediately and create some serious transformative changes in US Military culture and the way that this nation cares for its veterans. It is sure to inform our work for years to come. Help us take off the yellow-ribbon bandaid and get the word out about what veterans are really experiencing. Make a generous donation to IVAW today.

It is also important to take time today to remember that US veterans are not the only people who are suffering because of these wars. Iraq is breaking down after sustaining constant warfare and sanctions from from the US beginning in 1990. A new US invasion is taking place while Iraqis continue to suffer from environmental pollutants, civil unrest, repression against organized labor, violence against women, and a variety of things that were either created or exacerbated by the US invasion of 2003. 

 
In the summer of 2003, members of the Organization of Women's Freedom (OWFI, one of our partner organzations) in Iraq gathered signatures in several towns in Iraq in support of the Right to Heal Initiative. Photo courtesy of OWFI.

 

I am proud to work for an organization that values the self-determination, healing, and recovery of the people of Iraq just as much as it values those things for veterans. For over a year, IVAW has been working in coalition with 2 Iraqi civil society organizations to raise awareness about the human rights violations we have all experienced as a result of the war in Iraq, and to hold the US government to account. When we bring together the voices of US veterans and Iraqis who are working toward the same goals, the message is powerful: It's time for the US government to take responsibility for all of their harm. Help us amplify our voices by making a contribution to IVAW today.

With all of the conflict in the world, it can be challenging to maintain hope. But the community that we have made for ourselves in IVAW helps us to continue to persevere. Thank you for being a part of building, nurturing, and growing that community, and thank you for thinking of us today.

With Gratitude,

Joyce Wagner

 
IVAW co-Director

 

 

 

 

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Iraq Veterans Against the WarSupport Our Work: Donate Now

Dear Joseph,

As a member of Civilian Soldier Alliance, I have been privileged over the last 8 years to contribute to and participate in the work of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

As a photographer, I have witnessed and documented IVAW's growth from the early days of raw, impassioned and courageous voices struggling to tell the reality of the wars, to the truly principled and equally courageous work being done today. IVAW members have been positively transformed by their experiences and they are in this struggle for the long haul.

This beautiful transformation feeds my belief in a positive future. Please join me during this season of giving by supporting IVAW with your generous donation.

 

Above: Siri Margerin, 2nd from right, poses with the Bay Area chapter of IVAW during Fleet Week in 2012

IVAW's mission to end militarism is close to my heart. My father was an army man. My brother and I were expected to live by and revere military mores and values. For my sensitive, intellectually alert, nature-loving brother, that reverence translated inevitably into self-loathing and depression. 

My brother was an exemplary man, but he never believed it. He never believed he had a right to much of anything, let alone the right to heal. By the time he got around to looking for some healing for his cancer, it was too late.  My brother was another obscure, indirect, casualty of militarism.

Militarism impacts everyone, publicly and privately, whether or not they join the armed forces.

Photo by Siri Margerin

This year, along with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, IVAW launched the Right to Heal Initiative. This initiative demands acknowledgement and accountability from US Government officials for the human rights violations inflicted upon Iraqis, Afghans, and U.S. veterans of the wars.

By considering the simple assertion that Iraqis, Afghans, U.S. service members, and the people close to them have the right to heal, we begin to acknowledge the enormity of their wounds. If those directly impacted by war are allowed to heal, encouraged to heal, welcomed into healing from these wounds, we, as a society, may begin to heal as well.

In 2014, IVAW and its partners in Iraq will continue to demand accountability, and your generous gift will help make that possible. Please consider contributing to this incredible work.

 

 

An entire generation of service members have cycled through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their experience has equipped them with hard earned and insight into the true costs of war and occupation.

Those who joined right after September 11, 2001 as 18- and 19-year-olds are now entering their 30s. Many members have added a decade of stateside organizing experience to their military experiences. As young veterans continue to return from deployments to Afghanistan, these IVAW members are here to mentor them.

Together, we are building a strong, proactive movement to end militarism.

Members of IVAW and Civilian Soldier Alliance at the Center for Story-Based Strategy. Photo by Siri Margerin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IVAW is an organization committed to building for a better future by developing their members into strong leaders - leaders who speak hard truths to the most powerful military in the world; to a population lulled into inactivity by fear and clever marketing; and most importantly to the service members and veterans who have been and are still struggling for their lives, their health and their rights.

These are people with a voice that needs to be heard. Their leadership in this movement must not be overlooked or abandoned. I am honored to work with these people.

I'm proud to be a supporter, donor and ally. Join me.

Help IVAW continue their mission. Make a generous financial contribution today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Solidarity,

Siri Margerin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Memorial Day Is A Time To Mourn the Dead … Let’s Not Glorify War

Vets for Peace at Memorial Day Air Show

Bombers flew over the Atlantic, as we watched from the shore.  Jet fighters dove through the sky above us.  The veteran standing beside me trembled, as the ear-piercing sound of the planes overhead evoked an agonizing memory of war.

The vet was a member of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace.  He and I were among the sixty peace activists who attended Saturday’s Memorial Day Air Show at Jones Beach.  Our gathering was organized by Pax Christi Long Island.  Members of numerous Long Island peace and justice organizations participated, including Code Pink LI, North Country Peace Group, South Country Peace Group, LI Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, and the Suffolk Peace Network.

Our purpose in gathering at the beach this Saturday was to reaffirm the true reason that we observe Memorial Day.  Memorial Day is a day where we pause, to mourn the loss of those who died in war.  It is a day to recommit ourselves to ending ongoing wars and to preventing further wars.  Memorial Day is not a day for celebrating the weapons of war.  The Jones Beach Air Show glorifies war and trivializes violence.

War as Entertainment

The bomber planes swooped over the ocean, opened their bomb bay doors, and dropped watermelons into the water.  Thousands on the beach cheered.  We stood solemnly, holding photos of the dozens of Long Islanders who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We read their names.  We mourned their loss.  We stood before thousands of pink ribbons, each with the name of an American who was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.  We vowed to continue our efforts to work for a more peaceful world.  We expressed our deeply held belief that flights of fighter planes and bombers should not be presented as entertainment.

Recruiting at the Air Show

As we peacefully marched along the boardwalk, we came upon a number of military recruiting stations, as required by the Air Show’s contract with the Department of Defense.  One member of our group called it “sad,” another, “shameful and offensive,” that young people were being recruited on this day that is dedicated to mourning the deaths of members of our military.

As we walked along, we distributed 4,800 flyers to families attending the Air Show.  We engaged in dozens of meaningful conversations with our Long Island neighbors.  Passersby repeatedly thanked us for our presence and our message.  This was certainly enheartening, but should not have been surprising.  The Associated Press reported last week that only 27% of Americans support the war in Afghanistan, while 66% are opposed to the war.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have hastened an end to the war in Afghanistan.  The amendment would have limited further funding for the war to only that which is necessary for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan.  One hundred thirteen Representatives voted, “Yes,” to end the war.  The amendment did not pass.  All five Representatives from Long Island voted, “No,” on the amendment.  The funding continues.  The war goes on.

Ribbons with Names of the Dead

More than 6,000 Americans have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Nearly 2,000 of these servicemen and women have died in Afghanistan, so far.  More than 48,000 Americans have been wounded in these wars, more than 14,000 of them in Afghanistan.  More than 30,000 Afghan civilians have been killed.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments reports that an analysis of the Department of Defense Budget indicates that it costs us $1,200,000 to keep each soldier in Afghanistan for one year.  U.S. Labor Against the War has calculated that this is enough to fund twenty-three good, union jobs per year, here at home, for each soldier we bring home.  We currently have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

President Eisenhower cautioned us to be wary of the “military-industrial complex” and its influence on our foreign policy.  (Article and video here) The U.S. military weapons industry makes billions of dollars annually.  Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich recently pointed out, “It’s almost impossible to terminate large defense contracts. Defense contractors have cultivated sponsors on Capitol Hill and located their plants and facilities in politically important congressional districts.”  As Reich and others have noted, the United States spends more on its military than do China, Russia, Britain, France, Japan, and Germany; combined!

This month, following Memorial Day, we can honor our servicemen and women by calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan.  It takes just three minutes for each of us to call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-2131, and to leave a simple message for our member of Congress, urging a speedy end to the war.

Let’s stop glorifying war.  Let’s support our troops.  Let’s bring them home, now.

(Note: I wrote this article following the 2012 Jones Beach Memorial Day Air Show.  An excerpt of this article recently appeared in a Long Island newspaper.  The full article is presented above.  Below is a powerful four-minute video of the 2010 Air Show and of that year’s demonstration.)

This entry was posted in All Peace and Justice Online Posts, Peace and War and tagged afghanistan, Air Show, commentary, current events, Memorial Day, military-industrial complex, peace. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Memorial Day Is A Time To Mourn the Dead … Let’s Not Glorify War

  1. Susan P. says:

    Great job, Bob. Thanks so much for posting this important information. Loved the video. Hooray for the loyal peace activists who each year bring their message into the “belly of the beast.” Don’t let the light go out. . .

  2. REDPILLED says:

    Thank you for this article and for all that you do to advance the cause of peace.

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"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell."
—William Tecumseh Sherman

Veterans for PEACE LI LINK

VETERAN'S MEMBERSHIP DRIVE

Conscientious Objection

Love is not the starving of whole populations.  Love is not the bombardment of open cities.  Love is not killing, it is the laying down of one's life for one's friends.  Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers."  Dorothy Day

 

 

 

 

VETERANS SPEAKER & ADVOCACY BUREAU:  LI Veterans For Peace Chapter 138 has created a speakers bureau with the intention of holding classroom presentations as well as assemblies in our local high schools and colleges. If you are a teacher or know of one who might be interested in this, please call 631-875-8647 or email rksrc@optonline.net . For a copy of the letter being sent out to schools,

 "War destroys. And we must cry out for peace.
Peace sometimes gives the idea of stillness, but it is never stillness.
It is always an active peace.
I think that everyone must be committed in the matter of peace,
to do everything that they can,
what I can do from here.
Peace is the language we must speak."
Pope Francis

 

 

 
                                            ~Pope FRANCIS