ACTION ALERT: Defend the Rights of Veterans and Soldier Activists

November 11th, 2010 - by admin

Peace Action & Iraq Veterans against the War & – 2010-11-11 23:33:00

The Cost of War Comes Home with Every Veteran
Paul Kawika Martin / Peace Action

Every Veterans Day, we celebrate the courage, honor, and commitment of our service members in uniform. As the war in Afghanistan drags on, the horrors of war continue to take their toll on our brave men and women in uniform even upon returning home.

Many of our service members suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to deployment. 20% to 50% of all service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have suffered PTSD; this translates to 350,000 to 900,000 current GIs or recent veterans that have suffered or are suffering from PTSD. (1)

Despite this alarming rate of trauma, our troops are regularly being sent for multiple deployments. By 2008, nearly 33% of troops had served 2 tours to Iraq or Afghanistan, while 10% had served 3 tours. Today over 11,000 troops have served 6 tours. Each tour greatly increases a service member’s chances of PTSD. (2)

It is time to end this costly and traumatizing quagmire in Afghanistan. Support our veterans by urging your Representative to join the Out of Afghanistan caucus and bring our troops home.

Paul Kawika Martin is Organizing and Policy Director of Peace Action

(1) Seal, K. H., Bertenthal, D., Maguen, S., Gima, K., Chu, A., & Marmar, C. R. (2008). “Getting beyond ‘Don’t ask; don’t tell’: An evaluation of US Veterans Administration post-deployment mental health screening of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” American Journal of Public Health, 98, 714–720. See also “Comparisons of PTSD rates” Journal of Traumatic Stress-Volume 23, Issue 1, Feb, 2010.

(2) “The Alaska Army National Guard: A Tremendous Shortfall,” A Report of the Veterans For America National Guard Program, October 15, 2008 and Mark Thompson, “America’s Medicated Army,” Time, June 5th, 2008.

VAW is Defending the Rights of Veterans
And Service Members this Veterans Day

Iraq Veterans Against the War

As I write this, Field Organizer, Chantelle Bateman, member, Zach Choate, and civilian supporter, Ryan Harvey, are traveling with AWOL soldier, Jeff Hanks, who refused to re-deploy to Afghanistan after the Army denied him medical care. They’ve been driving for hours through the Deep South, headed to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Jeff will hold a press conference, then turn himself in to the Army medical center on base.

Jeff has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was due to receive medical evaluation and treatment during a leave from his tour in Afghanistan, when his military commanders effectively cancelled his doctor appointments to send him back to combat.

Jeff made the difficult decision to go AWOL to get the care he needed. IVAW’s Operation Recovery Campaign has helped Jeff to get the civilian medical care he so desperately needs, and identify a lawyer to defend his right to heal.

Your past support has been critical to our work on Operation Recovery, and we are just getting started. Would you consider making a special Veterans Day donation to sustain our efforts?

We are taking action across the country today
Here are some highlights of the work we are doing today to honor Veterans and promote Operation Recovery:

• Members at University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana are tabling on their campus, then doing an art installation about the issue of veteran and soldier suicide.

• Savannah members are holding a teach-in and then are flyering GI hang outs near Fort Stewart, GA.

• San Francisco members are holding a teach-in and education forum on the issue of military and war trauma.

• In Manhattan, Kansas, members are flyering at the annual Veterans Day parade and doing outreach to GIs at Fort Riley.

• Our Chicago chapter has organized an art exhibition, Intrusive Thoughts, part of a month-long series of programs at the National Veterans Art Museum.
And this is just to name a few.
We could not do this work without your moral and financial support.

IVAW files Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request on traumatized soldiers in the US Army
Today, we requested information from our government that will expose the scope of the problem of troops serving with un-treated trauma, including the number of troops that have reported or sought treatment for PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Military Sexual Trauma.

We specifically want to know about the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Infantry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division, the 3rd Infantry Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the 10th Mountain Division. These troops are the most heavily deployed and are dealing with extremely high rates of suicide and depression.

The US Army has this information, but has not made it public.

Your financial support now will help us continue to expose what the military is so eager to suppress — the systemic problem of war trauma ravaging our military.

In Solidarity,
Aaron Hughes
Field Organizing Team Leader

I Am Leaving for Iraq
Jon Stolz /

I am writing to let you know that I am taking a one-year leave of absence from, because I am being deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. I will be back at in January, 2012.

I know your first question is how does this affect the future of The answer is, “It doesn’t.”

The group won’t miss a beat — continuing its work on the same issues of importance to veterans — from veterans health care, to energy independence — with interim Chairman, and Iraq War Veteran, Ashwin Madia, who has been our Vice Chairman since 2009. The rest of the infrastructure will remain the same.

What we have been able to build, with your help, is a solid organization from top to bottom. With over 100,000 supporters, alliances forged from coast to coast, and a spectacular cadre of staff and advisors, I have no doubt that with your continued support won’t just survive while I am in Iraq — it will thrive.

I want to say a word about Ashwin, who will be assuming Chairman duties. Ashwin is as an energetic, determined, principled, and skilled person as there is. Before was even around, Ashwin was fighting for what was right.

A lawyer by trade, in the Marines, Ashwin was one of the first military attorneys to successfully defend a gay servicemember from discharge. As someone who ran for Congress, Ashwin also has a keen and personal understanding of how politics works.

As Vice Chairman of, he knows how we operate, and will continue operations seamlessly. I have no doubt that you’ll be impressed with Ashwin as I am, as you get to know him.

In closing, it is somewhat fitting that I am writing to tell you this on Veterans’ Day. In many ways, a veteran’s service never ends. I was in Iraq to start the war, and then came home to form a group that would ask tough questions about the war’s execution.

That was four years ago. And, now, I will go back to Iraq, because my country called, and because I so strongly believe in my duty to be there to lead the soldiers in my unit. When I get back, I will return to serving my country, and my fellow veterans, by rejoining

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve done to help veterans, and what you will continue to do to keep the largest and most successful progressive veterans organization in the country.

Jon Soltz