Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"This Veterans Day, U.S. Soldiers Say 'Stop the War'"

An open letter from war resisters calls for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On this day, Veteran's Day, we would like to express to the American public why we, veterans of the Global War on Terror, have chosen to refuse orders to reactivate into military service. We are direct witnesses to the horrors of this war, having experienced its atrocities at their source, and we have decided that we can no longer carry out these illegal and immoral policies.

We believe that veterans and active-duty GIs are in a key position to stop illegal and unjust war, and we are inspired by the resistance of troops who stood against the war in Vietnam. One of the preeminent reasons for the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam was increasing dissent among the active-duty troops stationed abroad and at home. By the end of the war, there were entire units refusing to participate in combat, many going as far as outright mutiny.

The United States learned a lesson from the Vietnam War: that it is unlikely, except in the event of self-defense, that regular civilians will execute the life-threatening orders that are given to them by military authority. The solution of policy makers was to create an all-volunteer force that negated the need for a draft. This translates into a mercenary force composed of America's disadvantaged: a sector of the U.S. demographic that is particularly susceptible to military recruitment for lack of other options and finding themselves with deployment orders again and again.

To compensate for huge pitfalls in recruitment since the invasion of Iraq, the military has resorted to recalling former service members. This policy is known as "involuntary activation" and utilizes deactivated service members who still have time on their contracts in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) to fill shortcomings in specific job specialties. The abuse and misuse of this policy has escalated under the current administration to such a degree that it can now only be viewed as a "backdoor draft" that targets the same disadvantaged individuals the military sought out for enlistment, namely because they are better at not questioning orders.

However, we have now begun to question these orders. We are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and members of the IRR who have refused or will refuse any activation orders that would lead to us serving an unjust and imperial U.S. foreign policy. It is a prevailing notion that this refusal is unpatriotic, but we consider our actions the only choice. Not only did the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan do great harm to the people of those countries, but it undermined the ostensible goal with which the wars were begun: Instead of stopping terrorism, it has proliferated terrorism, an expectation that was predicted well before the war started.

By refusing activation, we are refusing to participate in wars that serve the purposes of furthering the careers of politicians and high-ranking officers. We openly support other IRR members who follow in these footsteps. The military is a force that rules through fear of retribution for disobeying its will. In reality, more than a third of IRRs simply refuse to report to duty. Most of the rest report out of fear that the military will change their discharge status or prosecute them for desertion, but up to this point, prosecution has been rare. Members of the IRR are not under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and thus far, the military has had a practice of not prosecuting them with criminal charges unless they report in some form or function to activate. Very few willingly volunteer for activation.

There can be no promise that President-Elect Barack Obama will stop the stressful and unfair techniques of back-to-back deployments, "stop-loss" or the "backdoor draft" that are damaging the psychology of veterans in irreparable ways. Nor that he will stop encouraging global violence by unlawful uses of force. It is in this vein that we turn to organizations like Courage to Resist, Iraq Veterans Against the War and many other large-scale and grassroots organizations to solicit change in a largely unrepresentative democracy, and to allow the voices of the people to ring through the halls of the Capital.

Benjamin Lewis, former Marine Corps mortarman, Iraq veteran, IRR recall resister, peace activist

Brandon Neely, former U.S. Army Military police officer, Iraq veteran, IRR recall refuser.-- Benjamin Lewis and Brandon Neely


snark said...

Thank you SoS.

Enjoy the day.

An interesting story about one man's endeavor to photodocument the last living veterans of World War I which ended 90 years ago today. It's strange to think that the end of WWI is almost as distant in the past as the US Civil War was when I was born. There aren't to many WWII vets who participate in our local Veteran's Day parade anymore. Unfortunately, there are a whole new crop of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks again. Let's hope our new president honors all of your service more than the current occupant.

Seven of Six said...

Thanks snark...

There aren't to many WWII vets who participate in our local Veteran's Day parade anymore.

After getting real sick my Dad's starting to recover, slowly but surely. However, his Alzheimer's is still getting worse. Starting to make preparations for him to go into a home, but Mom wants in home healtcare first. I checked Vet's homes for him but man they want all his retirement. It would leave Mom without.

Mom struggles with that old Catholic belief of marriage. I try to tell her politely you can't do it alone with your health issues. I'm tryig to help but it's taxing.

iamcoyote said...

They want all his retirement? That's such bullshit. What a horror, SoS.

Seven of Six said...

They want all his retirement?

Yeah, no regards to the "well spouse"... it makes me pissed off. I had to talk to a lawyer.

The lawyer was instructional but not an immediate help for Dad's sickness. He would have been if Mom and Dad had a lot of assets.

First, I have to get the house deed changed to Mom's name. If not the state program Dad needs to enroll in will come after the house.

Second, he basically told us to enroll in a state subsidized program called ALTECS. Dad still has to qualify, 72% of the first time applicants are turned down. Then we have to fight (reapply) for it if we get turned down the first time.

Third, we have to get what is called a "Miller's Trust". This protects Mom's money. If not the state program will also come after all of Dad's money. The problem is protecting what Mom gets so she is not left destitute.

I wanted to verify from a social worker these were all the correct steps and they were.

I'm in the process of protecting the home. Changing it to her name on the mortgage.

Next is the application to ALTECS. It's a 45 day wait period. The social worker told me Dad should qualify easily because of his Alzheimer's but I have fought these bureaucracies before and nothing is a given. The social worker told me that they will fight back for hours of care needed. So he told me to bid high, like 20 hours a day of care. Then work back. He said they will usually offer only 15 hours a week to start.

So I'm prepping for another governmental fight.

~:*:*:Pixie:*:*:~ said...

Milo... in response to your post (that is no longer there)...


...and enjoy that beer... you absolutely do deserve it.