From Michael Thurman, recent GI resister. March 8, 2012

I applied for a conscientious objection discharge from the US Air Force in 2007. With the help of Courage to Resist, I was able to navigate that process successfully and I received an honorable discharge eight months later. However, today as a counselor to US military objectors, I know that things do not always go as well for others, regardless of the merits of their application. We have a lot of work to do to better support the troops who refuse to fight. It’s because of the financial support of thousands of folks like yourself that I’m able to do this work as a Courage to Resist staff member.

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Today, I’m interested in making sure our mission of supporting GI resisters—accused WikiLeaks truth-teller Army PFC Bradley Manning, for example—adapts to and becomes part of the broader forces gathering against US militarism and empire.

We have an atrocious and seemingly endless war and uncertain future in Afghanistan. We have not actually “withdrawn” from Iraq. We have covert wars and an expanding military presence all over the world. We have the most significant military whistle-blower of our generation, Bradley Manning, facing life in prison. And every day we’re hearing threats of an attack on the nation of Iran—not unlike the propaganda fed us in the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2004.

With the backing of thousands of friends like you, Courage to Resist has had a great history of supporting individual military resisters refusing illegal war, occupation and policies of empire—from “all the way back” when Marine L/Cpl Stephen Funk publicly refused to deploy to Iraq in April 2003, to when Army Lt. Ehren Watada became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq in May 2006, to the hundreds of lower profile objectors we’ve assisted since. We’ve been able to do this work by collaborating with concerned community members, veterans, military families—and folks like you. Like our mission statement says, I really do believe that by supporting GI resistance, counter recruiting and draft resistance, we can harness “people power” to weaken the pillars that maintain these seemingly endless wars.

With your help, we hope to increase our current GI resister support infrastructure, better ensuring that the military personnel are aware of the support available to them. We must continue building our network to support mass GI resistance to current and future US wars in order to live up to our mission of “cutting off the supply of troops”. Such a movement will be a deterrent to the structures of power. Through military counter-recruiting efforts, I believe we simply need to do a better job at preventing the entry of our youth into military service in the first place.

I believe the most important challenges facing recent veterans include:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—which is not really a disorder at all, but a natural reaction to trauma
  • Skyrocketing rates of incarceration in jails and prisons
  • Military Sexual Trauma, including occurrences of rape by coworkers in the military that far exceed civilian rates

I am always trying to figure out how we can increase our collaboration with other groups to address related, but broader issues, more effectively. These issues include the growing use of unmanned “drone” aircraft by the US military—not only the death and destruction they wreak on the Middle East, but their growing popularity with domestic police for surveillance. Given the fact that the US military industrial complex is the largest polluting entity in the world, I think we should better connect with friends who are primarily motivated by environmental concerns in order to confront this issue.

I’m excited by the class consciousness that has arisen with the occupy movement—a movement that soldiers and veterans are definitely a part of. Then there is the worldwide May Day general strike. The NATO meeting protest in Chicago, and the G8 meeting near DC, in May. The Republican and Democratic National Conventions. A big part of my job will be trying to advance our bottom up movement in support of GI resisters, specifically Bradley Manning, within the context of all of these upcoming events. At this moment in history, I encourage you to support and become more involved in our collective efforts.

I cannot thank you enough for supporting our very important and essential work for more peaceful and just world.

In Solidarity,
Michael Thurman
Courage to Resist organizer

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P.S. Please consider becoming a monthly sustainer. This will give us the financial stability to spend fewer resources on fundraising. To take that one step further, think about “legacy giving”. As you are making out your will, please consider a bequest to the “Alliance for Global Justice project Courage to Resist”. For more information about bequest language in your estate plans, please give us a call.

P.P.S. As we administer the defense fund on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network, if you’d like all or part of your donation today to go towards Bradley’s defense only, just note that on your check. Otherwise, we’ll use your contribution to support Bradley along with other GI resisters.