To Seek Justice for Veterans and Victims of War
We are war’s doppelgangers: the veteran as victim, the veteran as victimizer. Ours is a conundrum as old as Hannibal’s Army, and as young as ’08’s Winter Soldiers. We are Walter Reed. We are Abu Ghraib.
As warriors, indoctrinated in the mythos of militarism, each of us has, at some time, in some place, acted, or failed to act, according to the dictates of our conscience and morality. “We were not bad people. We were all good people in a bad situation, and we did what we had to do to survive.” – Cliff Hicks, 23, Winter Soldier.
“Veterans are victims and also executioners,” said the late David Cline, former President of Veterans for Peace, and member of Vietnam Veterans Against War, at the Veterans for Peace 2005 National Convention. “How many of us have sought to ransom our sanity, our humanity? We pay for our misguided complicity with war’s currency: guilt, anger, shame, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, amputation, families destroyed, and pain, and pain, and pain…”
We are the warriors, and we are the wounded. We are the 4,000 + American troops killed in the Iraq war. We are the more than 60,600 nonfatal casualties from the war zone. We are the 154,000 homeless veterans in the United States.
Eighteen of us, on average, commit suicide every day. That is some 6,552 of us each year.
The psychological effect of multiple deployments is debilitating, both to the soldier and to the soldier’s family, their community, and to our society.
And we are Veterans for Peace. We acknowledge and accept responsibility for our acts during wartime. Once soldiers of war, we are forevermore servants of peace. We initiate and participate in projects that promote reconciliation and restoration.
VFP Chapter 099, Asheville, raised over $20,000 to provide two orphanages in Afghanistan much-needed kitchen equipment and washing machines. The chapter partners with Life for Relief and Development in the Iraq Waters Project. Veterans for Peace is part of a yearly caravan to the Gulf Coast to rebuild the area still ravaged by Katrina. Through our national office and our local chapters, Veterans for Peace members “work together for peace and justice”, as we have since 1985.
“Justice: the ideal, morally correct state of things and persons.” – Wikipedia
Our purpose, “to seek justice for veterans and victims of war”, supports, and is supported by, GI Resisters. Resistance to war and a commitment to GI Rights are ties that bind Veterans for Peace to one another, and to individuals and organizations of courage and conscience who speak out against the war machine, and its waste of our nation’s hope and treasure.
In November, 2007, the Army reported “…a 42% increase in desertions since last (2006) year.”
In January, Courage to Resist, a group of veterans, families, and community members who support resistance to the Middle East war and occupation, petitioned Canada to provide political asylum to military resisters, as part of its “Dear Canada: Let Them Stay Campaign”.
Quaker House, in Fayetteville, NC has been at the vanguard of GI Rights since 1969. Quaker House, originating sponsor of the Fayetteville Peace Rallies, offers a variety of resources for resisters, both past and present.
Justice for veterans and victims of war requires that we, Veterans for Peace, advocate for the Post 9/11 Veteran’s Educational Assistance Act (S22). Sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), the “GI Bill for the 21st Century” would provide 9/11 era veterans with educational benefits similar to the GI Bill enacted at the end of World War II.
Local members of Veterans for Peace met with NC Senator Tony Rand on April 2, 2008, during which the Senate majority leader referred to federal veterans’ programs as “criminal neglect”. Veterans for Peace will remain in contact with Sen. Rand’s office to share information, particularly about the three new regional National Guard Family Assistance Centers, to be located in Lenoir, Greensboro, and Greenville. Veterans’ health and benefits are of particular concern to Veterans for Peace; we seek justice in all aspects of veterans’ issues.
A banner created by the Santa Fe Veterans for Peace chapter reads, “Who will support the troops when our troops become veterans?” As it has for 23 years, today Veterans for Peace supports the troops, and the veterans. Tomorrow, and until we study war no more, Veterans for Peace will support our troops, and our veterans, by waging peace.
Women in the Military
Deadly Wall of Silence
By Kim Brummell
Is there a growing trend of women in the military being raped and murdered? Are there cover-ups to keep the public out of touch with reality? I'm a veteran of the U.S. Army and member of the N.C. American Civil Liberties Union. I'm very concerned as a U.S. citizen and disturbed of the possible findings involving the death of Army PFC Lavena Johnson. She died in Balad, Iraq on July 19, 2005 at the age of nineteen. There appears to be an issue of the findings in this case which includes but not limited to: a broken nose, multiple bruises, part of her body burned and a bullet in her head. There also appears to be revelations that someone set her tent on fire where she lived and acid on her genital area. This can help get rid of DNA. I mean this is awful! The U.S. Army has the nerve to rule this a suicide? Who would think that possible findings is a suicide and not murder: including rape, felony assault and arson?
As a former soldier and N.A.T.O recipient of the war in Bosnia, I'm highly dissappointed that this case hasn't been re-opened after three years. Somebody knows more about this than meets the eye that fatal day or night in Balad, Iraq. The Arm Services Committee should be dying to learn more, including any similar cases. This is horrifying for any parent who has a daughter in the military or Iraq. The fact that PFC Lavena Johnson is a female in a male dominated profession doesn't rank her life to be useless. This is a person who served this country and fought for all Americans' freedom! Lavena Johnson's death is most definately suspicious in nature. Who wants to join the military and face a huge possibility of being raped and murdered? The Army needs to resolve this issue and set the record straight. Suicide isn't looking to be the real reason for this horrific ordeal, after viewing blogs, media footage and videos of this case. If this isn't so, why is the government allowing their image to be put on front street? Why are they not addressing the issue backing up the claims of suicide? Why didn't the government provide an explanation when Channel 4 News asked for more details about the contradictory findings in this case? PFC Lavena Johnson was a resident of the St. Louis, Missouri area where KMOV News Channel Four aired this story.
The death of PFC Lavena Johnson could one day start receiving national attention. Currently the family, media and all those who are concerned are waiting on the federal government to hand over more key evidence in the death and re-open this case. After three years, it's a good chance some evidence has been destroyed, missing or tainted. This would cause for an inconclusive autopsy at this time. Hold on to your seats. That doesn't mean that justice can be served.
How will cases like this affect women signing up for the service and staying in the military? How will it affect the respect citizens have for our soldiers? How could we trust the military to help secure this nation when we may have cold-blooded murderers in a uniform wearing a U.S. flag? I got nothing but love for the military. The service taught me a lot. On the contrary, an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Where can you run and hide when your allies become your enemies?