by Steph Atkinson & Jeff Paterson, US military veterans & war resisters, for Courage to Resist

By contributing to Courage to Resist today, you will make a real difference in the lives of people who are at this very moment making the hardest decision of their lives. These are military service members who are choosing to “do the right thing” vs. the easy thing. Please take a moment to review our newsletter for concrete examples of your previous contributions in action.

Enlistment in the “All Volunteer Force” is at a historic low, and a military recruiter’s job is becoming more difficult. What was once an extra and temporary duty assignment, “Recruiter” is now its own military occupation specialty (MOS).

This is a cause for celebration, but also a reason to stay alert. Despite the drones and coming AI killer robots, the war machine still needs warm bodies.

About 7% of the US population will serve in the US military. Today, there are 1.3 million active-duty members of the military–down from 2.2 million in 1990.

Since 2003, tens of thousands of service members in this already small population have resisted illegal war and occupation in many ways–by going AWOL, seeking conscientious objector status, asserting their rights to speak out against injustice from within the ranks, and for a relative few, publicly refusing to fight.

Courage to Resist has a nearly 20 year history of successfully working with over a hundred resisters and their families to raise the needed funds for civilian legal representation, publicly advocating and educating on their behalf, and providing critical material aid.

We assist and support active-duty and reserve military service persons who want to leave military service. We’ve also begun to provide discharge upgrade assistance to veterans who have received less than honorable classifications as a result of their moral objections to war and acts of conscience.

It is because of our direct personal experiences as military resisters, objector advocates, and veterans that we’ve been able to effectively carry forward with this always evolving and challenging work. Our efforts are made possible only by supporters like you.

Currently we’re organizing and fundraising for US Navy veteran Annette “Lavender” Gunderson as she challenges the Navy’s “undesirable” classification of her service. As it currently stands, her existing discharge denies her eligibility for any assistance from the Veterans Administration for mental and physical injuries directly related to being a survivor of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). The assault was committed by her military recruiter while she was 17 years old.

Lavender’s bravery in sharing her story presents the opportunity to advocate not only for her benefit, but to advocate for legislative change to benefit other MST survivors. Lavender and her attorney, James Branum, will be traveling to Washington DC to present testimony and further legislation limiting recruiter access to minors.

Systemic predatory military recruiting practices need to be exposed.

To that end, Courage to Resist directly stipends military veterans and war resisters so that they can do presentations in local high schools. In our newsletter, we share Eddie Falcón’s experiences during regular presentations in schools in the San Francisco East Bay. Eddie educates potential recruits and provides unvarnished realities of military life and war to teens before they enlist. He also provides them with information about alternatives to military service.

Courage to Resist continues to support the international military war resister hotline based in Germany serving objectors from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Established in the aftermath of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine, the hotline handles calls about various forms of refuge from the war in many languages.

Most importantly, on a daily basis, we’re a community for those that would otherwise have to go it alone in their journey to becoming part of the solution instead of the problem.

-Steph Atkinson & Jeff Paterson,
US military veterans & war resisters

P.S. We kind of hate fundraising. We would just much rather do the work. However, we’re hoping that you’ll chip in today so that we can continue with our mission. One awesome way to help is with a small monthly contribution. Save a stamp (or twelve) by donating online.