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By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. July 17, 2010
Thank you again for your support of military war resisters! With your help, we’ve won a number of victories over the last few months. Now we’re preparing to take on our most challenging campaign yet. However, we need your financial support to do so. Please consider making an urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. couragetoresist.org/donate
With your help, we convinced Ft. Stewart Army officials to back down from court martialing “Hip-Hop soldier” Spc. Marc Hall. Marc served 14 months in Iraq and returned with PTSD. When he was told that he wouldn’t be able to leave at the end of his active duty enlistment, he produced an angry rap song about the Army’s “stoploss” policy. Five months later, Marc filed an official complaint with the Army’s Investigator General over inadequate mental health care provided to him at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. Within days, he was jailed on the pretext of his song and related vague “threats”. Instead of sitting in jail, Marc got married last week and is excited to be moving on with his life.
After being jailed for refusing deployment to Afghanistan, objector Sgt. Travis Bishop was recently released three months early from the Ft. Lewis stockade. Travis is an aspiring country singer and songwriter. During his Iraq deployment, he even performed in Baghdad for fellow soldiers as an opening act for Toby Keith. Because of your support, Travis was free to perform last weekend for anti-war soldiers and veterans at the Under the Hood Café near Fort Hood, Texas. Joining Travis were other GI resisters that we have directly aided, including Victor Agosto and Eric Jasinski. Myself and about a hundred other veterans were in the area for the 6th annual Iraq Veterans Against the War national convention which was held this year in Austin.
We continue to be a primary resource for hundreds of military IRR members questioning involuntary activation. Google “IRR recall” for example, and you’ll see that we’re at the top of the list. Over two thousand former soldiers have simply refused to report. This mass resistance has certainly not gone unnoticed by the Army. For the first time, some IRR resisters are being denied some of the benefits under the new “Post 9/11 GI Bill”.
As of June, the US military had reached another milestone in our nation’s unending occupation wars, even if few took notice. Over two million US troops have now fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. While 40% remain in the military, 60% (about 1.2 million) are now out and eligible for treatment from the already over-stretched Veterans Administration (VA). Nearly 500,000 have filed disability claims–about 40%. That’s the highest ratio of disability in the history of the US military and war! It is not so surprising, however, when you consider that 830,000 of those two million troops deployed twice or more to the war zones.
As of last week, total US casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan reached 94,500. While the media occasionally mentions that 4,400 US troops have been killed in Iraq, or that 1,150 have been killed in Afghanistan, the seriously wounded in action, and those that are evacuated due to injury and disease, go largely uncounted. Yet, its estimated that the government will spend nearly $2 million per casualty over their lifetime in disability and treatment.
What truly goes unreported of course are the casualties suffered by the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Recently a courageous 22-year-old intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, decided to share with the world some of those “awful things” that he came across during his deployment in Iraq. Bradley is now being held in isolation in Kuwait and faces 52 years in prison for allegedly providing the “Collateral Murder” video to the Wikileaks website. There is plenty of intrigue swirling around Bradley’s case, from Lady Gaga to the role of international hackers. However, in the middle of all that stands a young man who made a heroic choice to expose the crimes being committed in our names. We’ll do whatever possible to support him.
Jeff Paterson, Project Director
P.S. Like many, we have made significant budget cuts in order to continue with our mission. Yet we still need to increase our monthly sustainers so that we can focus more on the work at hand, and less on fund-raising in the months ahead. I’m asking that you consider a contribution of $50 or more, or possibly becoming a sustainer at $10 to $20 a month, depending on your ability. Regardless of the amount, can we count on your continued support? couragetoresist.org/donate