What have we been up to at Courage to Resist this winter quarter? We’re continuing to support the troops who refuse to fight of course! Saddened by the year-long war that continues in Ukraine, this past winter we were excited to support two Russian war resisters, Sergei and Maksim, who fled conscription rather than be deployed to the front. Traveling by dinghy from Siberia to a tiny Alaskan village was the last ditch effort of two friends who risked the open ocean rather than death on the front lines in Ukraine. Check out the Economist article with great photos.
We celebrated the recognition of conscientious objectors, Kyle Toon and Emily Oneschuk, (photo left) two individuals who successfully navigated the formal procedure for recognition as COs. Kyle and Emily regularly contribute to CTR as speakers and participants in our monthly online meetings.
Emily served as a Navy explosive ordnance disposal officer and is a fourth generation veteran. After several frustrating and disorienting years on active duty she eventually realized the root of her unhappiness– she was a Conscientious Objector! Fourteen months of legal proceedings and limbo later she was ultimately released from the Navy in April 2022.
Kyle was a chief warrant officer in the Army for 13 years, with four deployments to Afghanistan. Through extensive reading, meditation, and reflections on both military violence and the murder of George Floyd, Kyle’s growing awareness of himself as a conscientious objector was evident. We’re happy to announce that Kyle was successfully separated from the Army this past month two years after starting his application for conscientious objector.
Kyle shares, “I just wanted to express my gratitude for assistance with my legal fees. You could have used that money for anything else, but you allocated it for me to achieve justice — spotlighting the systemic issues and command injustices that have caught me in the cross hairs…I truly appreciate CTR’s care and concern for me and my family.”
Military recruitment is the lowest it’s been in years, and we couldn’t be happier! However, recruiters are more desperate than ever for human resources. In response, we’re now partnering with “Before Enlisting” to train and help fund post-9/11 veterans to get into school classrooms, career fairs, and other events to counter the military recruiter narratives. Check out the video below!
We’re in the process of investigating how to assist veterans with less than an honorable discharges in preparing discharge upgrade appeals. The degrees of discharge–Honorable, General, Other-than-Honorable, Bad Conduct, and Dishonorable–unfairly affects people’s lives. Even after years of service, and the promises made by recruiters, many veterans are denied the very benefits they earned while in service. For some, the denial of VA healthcare and home loans can affect their ability to survive or thrive after their contracts end.
And our friend Joy Damiani (photo right) just published her memoir If You Ain’t Cheatin’, You Ain’t Tryin’ : and Other Lessons I Learned in the Army–one woman’s experience in the Army from boot camp to Iraq. Joy is a veteran, activist, author, and musician.
I’m 77 years old, and I waa a dedicated draft resister, back in the ’60’s., who eventually got drafted & sent to Vietnam. As much as I support all those individuals who refuse to serve the warmongering nations of the world, like the United States and Russia, I have to admit that 53 years after leaving Vietnam, which I tried to avoid by every way possible, I still couldn’t leave my country or refuse to serve, even though I would like to say I could. I wanted no part of the military, not even the National Guard, but I just couldn’t say no, no matter how much I hated it, and I still feel that same way.