ACTION ALERT: Students Need to Hear the Truth About these Wars

September 24th, 2013 - by admin

Debra Sweet / The World Can’t Wait – 2013-09-24 00:51:22

ACTION ALERT: Students Need to Hear the Truth About these Wars
Debra Sweet / The World Can’t Wait

Schools have now reopened around the country and it seems like almost all of them are struggling with fewer teachers and reduced resources to try to meet the critical needs of their students.

But one thing is not in short supply, and that’s the military recruiters who stalk the hallways of far too many urban and rural public high schools and community colleges.

We Are Not Your Soldiers is an initiative of World Can’t Wait that brings anti-war veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars together with activists to talk about the reality of these wars in classrooms and to counter the dangerous deceptions served up by recruiters.

This is truly a life-changing experience for many young people, who are encouraged to ask their most difficult questions of young women and men who just a few years ago were students like them, considering what to do with their lives, and are now committed to ending the wars they saw first hand.

Last year, we visited schools in New York City, Connecticut, Chicago, the Bay Area and Olympia, Washington. You can read a brief report on those visits here.

We hope to expand the We Are Not Your Soldiers project this year and reach out to more schools and more students and young people. The need is just as great as ever; the wars have not ended and now the US is threatening yet another country.

We will only be able to do this with YOUR help, though. Maybe you are a teacher or know someone who is, or you lead a youth group or know someone who does — please get in touch, forward this email widely, and support this initiative. Funds are also needed to send vets wherever they are invited to speak.

We will work with teachers and youth leaders to tailor the presentation to their needs. Please contact us and we’ll put your school on the calendar.

Contact us at or 866-973-4463.

Debra Sweet is the director of The World Can’t Wait, 305 W. Broadway #185, New York, NY 10013

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In the 2012-13 school year, the We Are Not Your Soldiers (WANYS) project of World Can’t Wait made a number of visits around the country. We brought Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans to classes to tell the truth about the wars and why the military is really recruiting. The vets talked about their on-the-ground experiences in occupying countries, where civilians pay the price, and how it affected them as well.

In New York City:
• at an inner-city Brooklyn high school, We Are Not Your Soldiers showed a dvd of “Collateral Murder” and then Mathis and the WANYS representative engaged in discussion with the students.

• Mathis and WANYS spent half a day at a Bronx high school serving newly-arrived students in formal meetings with two classes and an informal gathering with students who wanted to follow the discussion further.

• John, from IVAW, visited a third high school in Manhattan with a very diverse student body, where we showed “Collateral Murder” to two classes and then engaged in an extended discussion.

• We Are Not Your Soldiers also presented once again at the NY Collective of Radical Educators conference held every spring.

We went to Connecticut:
• where WANYS and John, from IVAW, visted an after-school program that develops teen-agers’ critical thinking strategies. We showed “Collateral Murder” and John answered many questions about the wars and his own experiences.

In Chicago:
• We Are Not Your Soldiers tabled at the annual Social Justice Curriculum Fair organized by Teachers for Social Justice.

• A WANYS activist spoke together with Ray, a vet from IVAW, with students from a Chicago high school where students express themselves through the visual arts.

• A WANYS volunteer and Michael, from IVAW, visited a large urban high school where students are predominantly Hispanic with over 90% qualifying for free lunch. A teacher had reserved the school auditorium for their presentations to several class periods and four other teachers brought their classes.

In the first session, they showed a few video clips from the IVAW “Winter Soldier 2” hearings and spent most of the time with students asking questions and sharing their views. The discussion was lively and heartfelt, with debate about 9/11 and the causes of wars — and many questions about the purpose of the military and what it’s like to be in it. Clearly, many myths were being challenged!

The school has a large Junior ROTC program and apparently this was too much for the JROTC teachers because they came to the second session and repeatedly interrupted the WANYS/IVAW presenters and the students.

The presenters persevered through a third class period and were able to convey quite a bit of information, although the JROTC teachers’ outbursts put a damper on discussion. Finally, the principal, a former JROTC teacher herself, decided to ban their visit and two subsequent class periods were canceled.

“We Are Not Your Soldiers” was on the West Coast as well:

• In the Bay Area of Northern California, WANYS and Aaron, from IVAW, presented to a high school class using a specially prepared slide show and educational materials.

• In Olympia WA, a WANYS volunteer and Hart, from IVAW, were the invited guests at a special session called by a student organization at a community college where a number of students are veterans and there is active recruitment going on in the area to convince other students to sign up. The attendees were students mainly in their twenties and thirties who engaged in a deep discussion of the issues.