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IMMEDIATE RELEASE     Jan. 8, 2007

(703) 681-0519 (Media/Public Inquiries)


Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health

Meetings Slated for Fort Lewis Area 

Monday Jan 22 and Tuesday Jan 23, 2007

The Department of Defense (DoD) Task Force on Mental Health will meet    Jan. 22 - 23, Sheraton Tacoma Hotel, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, Washington.  The room location of the meeting will be posted in the hotel lobby. 

The public and media are invited to attend the open sessions. The open meetings provide an opportunity for attendees to hear briefings on mental health related topics.  Open sessions will be from 8 a.m. – noon, Mon., Jan. 22, and 3 – 5:30 p.m., Tues., Jan 23.  Meeting agendas area available at:  http://www.ha.osd.mil/DHB/mhtf/meeting/2007Jan.cfm.  

Testimony to the Task Force during the open meeting on Tuesday should be in the form of a statement rather than a briefing or presentation, and should be no longer than 10 minutes.  However, written statements of any length may be submitted to the Task Force at http://www.ha.osd.mil/DHB/mhtf/submission.cfm.  Beneficiaries who may not wish to speak publicly or who are unable to attend the meeting may submit their statements at this link. 

According to the Task Force co-chairs, members want to hear from beneficiaries and veteran and military service organizations about all aspects of mental health care, including access, quality – even the stigma associated with seeking this care.   They are also interested in understanding how deployments impact children and spouses, and about care received from civilian practitioners. 

The Task Force was established at the direction of Congress and will submit a report to Secretary of Defense in May 2007 that will include an assessment of, and recommendations for improving the effectiveness of mental health services provided to service members.   

The Task Force consists of seven DoD members and seven non-DoD members.  It is co-chaired by Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, Army Surgeon General and Dr. Shelley M. MacDermid, Associate Professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Purdue University and the Co-Director for the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue. 

For a list of members of the DoD Mental Health Task Force, click on the following URL: http://www.ha.osd.mil/DHB/mhtf/members.cfm. 

Point of contact for public or media inquiries is Cynthia Vaughan, 703-681-0519, Cynthia.Vaughan@us.army.mil.

Bellingham first city in Washington to initiate City Council Resolution 'Bring Troops Home'

I spoke with Gene Marx via telephone last night and asked him to write and send a detailed eye-witness account of the meeting. The following was in my morning email - Arthur

VICTORY for BELLINGHAM: Troops Home! Resolution Passes 6-1

On Monday night, Oct 9th, the Bellingham City Council passed the Troops Home! Resolution by a 6-1 vote, with only Councilman Bob Ryan voting against it, becoming the first city in Washington State and the 108th nationally to adopt such an initiative.

Councilman Terry Bornemann sponsored the resolution and strongly supported the Troops Home! Advisory Committee's efforts from the outset in June. The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Beardsley.

Before the vote, Bornemann, a Vietnam Veteran, powerfully stated that he supported this resolution to honor Gold Star mother Doris Kent, whose son Corporal Jonathan Santos was killed in Iraq two years ago this week, and other parents of soldiers; and also to honor the many Vietnam Veterans who still suffer from the consequences of that war.

Council President Gene Knutson said that when our national representatives won't listen, the people come to their local politicians.

" When the federal government isn't listening, and the state government isn't listening, where do citizens go? They go to their local officials...we are elected officials, and we have that right to do what we're doing here tonight."

Knutson also took on stay-the-course detractors.

"Look at the highest levels of our government that are using cut-and-run, look at the people that are using cut-and-run, look at their military backgrounds."

When Council Member Joan Beardsley questioned whether it was appropriate for the city council to make a vote on behalf of ALL the citizens of Bellingham, Bornemann and Knutson strongly stated that every time the Council votes, they are voting on behalf of the City of Bellingham and ALL its citizens.

In addition to making Northwest news, Bellingham's victory is being celebrated by the national peace movement and Cities for Progress.

Whatcom Peace and Justice Center (www.whatcompjc.org), under Executive Director Marie Marchand, was the Resolution's organizational sponsor from its inception.

For a refreshing counter-balance to The Bellingham Herald's inaccurate coverage of the council meeting, check out Seattle's KOMO 4's 11:00 pm news from Monday night, October 9.

Bellingham's victory was the top news story, even trumping N. Korea's test detonation. The powerful City Council presentation (Sep 25th - beginning at 22 minutes) and successful vote (Oct 9th - beginning at 54 1/2 minutes) can be viewed on http://cob.org/council/packets.htm.

Gene Marx
Board of Directors,
Whatcom Peace and Justice


On September 26, 2006,  about 150 people gathered at a Bellingham City Council meeting to present a Troops Out Now resolution.  

A group of Bellingham parents of soldiers (both deceased and Iraq veterans) and peace advocates prepared and presented the resolution proposal to the Bellingham city council.

Among these families are members of Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter.

Speakers included Doris Kent, Victoria Marx, Susan Livingston, Eileen Herring, and other parents of soldiers.

MFSO member Anna Lawson from Bellingham explains that "this   resolution, of course, has no power other than highlighting that one city strongly opposes federal policy and actions.
... and we hope that Bellingham's council will be the first of many in Washington to do so."

Bellingham Herald Article: City asked to send anti-war message

Parents of soldiers bring resolution to council, 150 attend meeting

The link below describes the resolution and provides much more information.



The Troops Home! Resolution urges Congress to end the occupation of Iraq and bring American troops home.

Some 106 other U.S. cities have passed similar troop withdrawal resolutions.

To date, no other Washington cities were listed as having passed this type of resolution.

For citizens in other cities in Washington state interested in initiating a City Council resolution to bring the troops home; see the toolkit at link Cities for Progress.

The council will vote at its Oct. 9 meeting to adopt the resolution or not.

Video of the City Council meeting is available online  (September 25, 2006).
The Hearing begins around minute 22 of the video.

Dear Friends and Family,

The weekend of, September 15, 16 and 17th, a film called "The Ground Truth" premiered premier in cities around the country. It is about the hidden toll of the war in Iraq, and features returned Iraq War Veterans and military family members telling "the ground truth" about the war.

The film played to rave reviews at the Sundance and other film festivals around the country. The eight cities it will be opening in are LA, NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, Boston, Austin, and Seattle. In addition to these areas, there will be screenings of the film in several other cities around the country. For more detailed info regarding all of the showings, theaters and dates/showtimes, as well as to view the film’s trailer, go to www.thegroundtruth.net.

If you would like to purchase the DVD of The Ground Truth, you can do so at http://groundtruthstore.seenon.com/?pa=mfso, and a donation will go to Military Families Speak Out for each DVD sold through that web address.

Please spread the word about this important film so that we can create an appropriate national dialogue about the war in Iraq and educate the American public about the devastating – and often hidden -- toll of this war.

Here is an excerpt from The Ground Truth's promotional materials:

"Hailed by Sundance filmgoers as 'powerful; and 'quietly unflinching,' Patricia Foulkrod's searing documentary feature includes exclusive footage that will stun audiences. The filmmaker's subjects are patriotic young Americans, articulating their stories on-camera - stories that must be heard.

The stories are those of a half-dozen American heros, ordinary men and women who heeded the call for military service. The Ground Truth charts recruitment and training, combat, homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities.

The terrible conflict in Iraq, depicted with ferocious honesty in the film, is a prelude for the even more challenging battles fought by the soldiers returning home - with personal demons, an uncomprehending public, and an indifferent government. As these battles take shape, each soldier becomes a new kind of hero, bearing witness and giving support to other veterans, and learning to fearlessly wield the most powerful weapon of all -- the truth."

This is an excerpt from what the film's director wrote about the film:

"I tried to create a film that might blow the yellow ribbons off...and encourage people to really wrap their arms around our soldiers and their families.

I wanted us to sit with the broken hearts and troubled minds of these young veterans, so we can take responsibility for their suffering that is being experienced in our name.

And most important, I wanted to share with all Americans the profound wisdom these young men and women have to impart. Their first step to healing is our listening."

Thank you.

In Peace and Solidarity, Lietta Ruger
Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter coordinator

The Vietnam Veterans Traveling Wall will be on display in Bellingham July 14th - 16th at Memorial Park.
(I-5 Exit 255- follow the signs.)
This is the Vietnam Wall but we will be honoring all Veterans past and present. We need to support our veterans here at home and in Iraq. The war doesn't end for these mena dn women in uniform just because they came home. In fact, after they do come home, a new war can begin.
For more information contact Shelley Prentice, Vietnam Travelling Wall,  avtt.org.

Lietta Ruger  to Wamfso

3 Private Meetings w/ Sen. Cantwell - is her position on Iraq evolving?

I don't know if her position is evolving, but I do know she is now at least talking about her position on Iraq war. From what I am given to understand that is not something she has done these past months. I've been a participant in 2 of the 3 meetings with the Senator scheduled specifically to discuss her position on Iraq. I've now heard her first hand on two separate occasions in these meetings.

My participation in both meetings with Senator Cantwell has been representing
Military Families Speak Out. We do have a chapter in WA state with 60 + WA military family members. That means military families with loved ones who have or will deploy to Iraq/Afghanistan, have returned and will redeploy in repeat deployments, or have died in Iraq/Afghanistan deployment. I posted my perceptions of that second meeting with the Senator on April 10 at Washblog; Sen. Cantwell explains her position Iraq war in Monday meeting with us April 10, 2006.

Prior to the third meeting of May 6, 2006, which came about as her response to a sit-in that took place in her Seattle office April 25, 2006, Senator Cantwell placed her own guest op-ed article in Seattle Times, May 4, 2006; The year of transition in Iraq stating in her own words her position on Iraq. Another article in the Seattle PI, May 4, 2006  Cantwell clears the air on her Iraq stance  addresses what the Senator has now publicly stated as her position.

Then another article in Seattle Times on May 5, 2006, a day before our third meeting w/ Senator Cantwell; 
Cantwell's stance on Iraq keeps volunteers away, party chief says

Reporting on the May 6 meeting with the Senator, Seattle Times on May 7 
Cantwell speaks to party faithful, then meets with critics in private

My husband attended with me the May 6 meeting with the Senator and posted his perceptions of that meeting also at Washblog; It wasn't Camp Casey and Maria Cantwell is not George Bush.    

At this point, the Senator and I share common ground on one point; she feels a responsibility to her Senator's vote in favor of U.S. invading Iraq and believes stability and security of Iraq must be established in this year of transition 2006; I feel a responsibility for my vote of confidence in the Senator in the last election and believe stability and security of our U.S. troops and Iraq must be established by responsible Congressionals taking a leadership role in defining a clear exit strategy in bringing them home now. Furthering this catastrophe furthers continuing catastrophic devastation to our troops who have become targets in what looks like civil war; and to the Iraqi people who become the collateral damage to our troop presence in Iraq.

Questions and information were shared with the Senator in all three meetings and in some instances she was given room to address and respond. Other times, imo, she was not given nearly as much opportunity to respond as I would have preferred. Essentially though, with her now stating a position, what is not yet clarified for me is the definition of Iraq stability and security in the year of transition 2006. In the second meeting with Senator Cantwell, April 10, 2006, it was shared with her by Iraqi/American citizen participating in the meeting that the 'standards' of what defines for the U.S. and what defines for the Iraqis are very different standards. In other words,if training Iraqis according to U.S. standards to take over their own security/stability is the objective, has consideration been given to the Iraqi standards as they define it for themselves?

Somehow to me, that is a relevant question that provides far too much wiggle room for Congressionals to take the 'safe' stand and continue to push the timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops further into 'indefinite' future.

Lietta Ruger, military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans facing multiple deployments;

Since March, 2003, on average, over two service men and women have died each day as a result of the war in Iraq; that fatality rate continues in May, 2006. Discussions in Congress about the war in Iraq and exit strategies include many proposals for bringing troops home after the mid-term election in November, 2006. If Congress waits until November to act, it is likely that 350 or more U.S. servicemen and women will die along with countless Iraqi children, women and men.

"This is a poignant and painful addition to the Eyes Wide Open exhibit, but one that all decision-makers should see," stated Larry Syverson of Richmond, Virginia, whose son in the Army is currently serving a second tour of duty in the Persian Gulf. "I hope every member of Congress and Senator visits this exhibit and reflects on the urgency of ending this war. Their failure to act could mean that the next pair of boots that is moved from this section to the section devoted to the boots of the fallen could be my son's."

quoted from Military Families Speak Out
press release, May 10, 2006   announcing 'Silence of the Dead; Voices of the Living' vigil in Washington DC May 11-14. Senator Cantwell was given personal invitation to attend at our May 6 meeting with her, and I sincerely hope she will take up that invitation as a time for reflection.

my blog Dying to Preserve the Lies  "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Ghandi

From the Tacoma News Tribune

Community marches against war

M. ALEXANDER OTTO; The News Tribune
Last updated: March 20th, 2006 06:39 AM (PST)

About 1,000 people rallied Sunday in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood to protest the Iraq war on the third anniversary of its beginning.

Church leaders, labor groups, soldiers, longshoreman, veterans, military families, politicians, professors, and others joined in opposition to the war with a march from People’s Park to People’s Center.

With speeches, signs, and discussions, they made their points: The Bush Administration misled the country into a needless war with false data about Iraq being a terrorist threat; the conflict is being funded by cutting essential education, housing and health care programs; and the war is unwinnable and should end as soon as possible.

Signs and buttons carried slogans like “think outside the Fox, impeach Bush,” “ignorance isn’t patriotic” and “support our troops … bring ’em home.” No one was there to argue the other side of the issue.

The demonstrators held several moments of silence for U.S. soldiers and others killed in the conflict.

Joe Colgan, of Kent, said his son, Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit.

After what’s come out about the conflict, he said, the fact that more people aren’t protesting “drives me nuts.”

Lietta Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew, both 28, are in the Army and facing additional time in Iraq, said she hoped her efforts would prevent other families from feeling the uncertainty and pain of having loved ones in Iraq.

An Iraq war veteran took the stage with her.

“I did nothing positive in Iraq,” said Joshua Farris, 24, who said he served as an Army cavalry scout during the war’s first six months.

Referring to the protest, he said, “This is the right side of it.”

State Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, read a litany of complaints about the Bush administration’s conduct of the war: “Convincing us Saddam was linked to 9/11 was wrong! Denying civil war is imminent is wrong!” she said to cheers.

“Every American is contributing at least $1,500 per person per year” to the war effort, said Warren Freeman, pastor at Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tacoma and Associated Ministries board member. “Too much money is being spent on the war, and not enough on health care, education, and housing.”

The protest was sponsored by Associated Ministries, the Church Council of Greater Seattle and United for Peace in Pierce County.

Laura Karlin, who helps operate Tacoma Catholic Worker’s hospitality house in Hilltop, said, “this is our neighborhood, and this is where we are seeing the program cuts, especially in low-income housing, shelter, and health care.”

Originally published: March 20th, 2006 01:00 AM (PST)

  caption of photos shown in article;
Duane King, a member of the Veterans for Peace chapter 109 in Olympia, joined other veterans and members of faith and secular communities to protest the war in Iraq on its third anniversary Sunday at People’s Park in Tacoma. Demonstrators paraded down Martin Luther King Jr. Way to call attention to the costs of war.

Jeanette Mears, who says she has a son in the Air Force, walks in an Iraq war protest with son Michael, 11, and daughter Mercedes, 8.


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Military Families Speak Out on tragic 3rd Anniversary Iraq/Afghanistan war
By Lietta Ruger
Weekend of tragically marking the third anniversary Iraq/Afghanistan war.
Some of the scheduled events of Military Families Speak Out - Washington state Chapter We welcome friends and supporters of our message:
Support Our Troops
Bring Them Home Now
Take Care of them when they get home.
We've been busy in Washington state this month -
MFSO participation in events in Washington
WHAT:      March and Rally
DATE:       Friday, March 17 TIME: 3pm
PLACE:    Bellingham Herald building, Chestnut and State Sts.
WHO:        MFSO members will participate, including Anna Lawson whose son serves in the North Dakota National Guard and who has been deployed to Iraq.
UPDATE on Bellingham:
 March 17, 2006;  Bellingham, WA
report from Anna Lawson; MFSO - WA
"I'm also part of the Raging Grannies group here in town, and we tend to make a fair amount of racket.
Friday, we conducted an action involving a march and rally to commemorate the third anniversary of the war. We had wonderful reception, and got an invite to appear on a local radio show Friday night. The host wanted us to do more singing than talking, which was fine; but I did get an opportunity near the end to talk about what it's like being the mom of a military member in Iraq (though my son is safely home now, praise be.
However, after the next rotation, he's likely to be yanked out of college yet again and sent back over). Several of the grannies, who know my story well since they carried me through that stressful year, had tears in their eyes, so I hope I was able to make someone in the listening audience do a little thinking.
I wasn't able to inject MFSO into the dialog, but I *was* there as a granny, after all (though I have no grandkids!). I figure if the message
gets out, it's not quite as important what sector it comes from as long as it's heard.
We also had at least a little coverage in the local daily, and the weeklies have promised coverage.
Port Angeles 
WHAT:      Rally and March
DATE:       Saturday, March 18 TIME: noon
PLACE:     Liberty Bell Veterans Park, 4th and Lincoln
WHO:         MFSO member Jenny Keesey will be speaking, whose son is in the Army.
Update on Port Angeles: from Jenny Keesey
 I wanted to give you a brief rundown of the rally yesterday.  I got there early enough to help set up and talk with other speakers.  It was quite a good turn out.  I think there were about 75 people. My speech was well-received by everyone.  They were a very supportive group.

A friend that went with me yesterday took pictures. ! I will get those downloaded tonight and forward to you separately.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak at this rally.  It was a wonderful and positive experience.

I have decided that I would like to continue on in this arena and become much more active in our organization.  My one regret is that I didn't join sooner.

 I have a couple of military families out here in my community that are interested in joining MFSO.
Note: Jenny's speech is on our MFSO Washington Members Speak Out Page
WHAT:      Cost of War Hits Home rally & march

DATE:       Sunday, March 19 TIME: 1:30pm
PLACE:     People's Park Tacoma, Martin Luther King Way & S. 9th St.
WHO:         Lietta Ruger of Bay Center, WA, will speak. Lietta's son-in-law and nephew are both in the Army and served extended tours in Iraq; they now face the prospect of multiple tours in Iraq. Lietta brings her history as a military family spanning her childhood and early adult years, and as a young military wife during Vietnam.
March 19, 2006

report from Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

Tacoma News Tribune article at link (also providing text of article below).
A reported 1,000 turned out for this event.  Multiple contingents marched from People's Community Park to Peoples Community Center in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood.  Two Iraq veterans,  carried the Iraq Veterans Against the War banner leading off the march, followed by the Veterans for Peace contingent with their flags and banners, followed by Military Families Speak Out contingent with their banner.  Judy Linehan was interviewed as she was marching by Q-13 local tv news channel.  The many contingents in the march included local labor unions of Jobs with Justice. a cross-section of the faith community, Youth against the War, and a wide assortment of other contingents.
  (photos to be provided)

Arriving at the People's Community Center, presentation given by Dexter G. Gordon, professor of African-American Studies at the University of Puget Sound,   reinforcing the actions of Martin Luther King, Jr;  followed by State Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma,  who concluded her presentation by reading the names of Washington military personnel  killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Lietta Ruger with Military Families Speak Out followed.  She used her presentation to put forward honored guest, Joe Colgan, Kent, WA, a veteran and father of Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit..   The audience responded with respect and appreciation.  Lietta then spoke  about what  Military Families Speak Out represents and stands for and the courage of military families to speak out pointing to the military family members there: Judy Linehan who has son returned from Iraq deployment; Jessie Archibald and her son currently deployed in Tikrit; Cathy Schop also a military family with a compelling story.  She then talked a bit  about the 2 returning Iraq veterans in her family.  Again the audience was appreciative in their respectful applause.  She spoke briefly about her father, who recently passed and his work on Tacoma docks as a longshoreman, a strong union -man, a veteran  his ability to respect the uniform of his 3 active duty grandsons as well as support her as a speaking out military family.  She thanked Jobs with Justice and individual thank you by local name each union local attending, including the her father's longshoreman union local 23.
(photos to be provided)

She then asked the two Iraq veterans  to speak and the audience responded in somber respect with appreciation.  Lietta wrapped up the presentation pointing out the soldiers do their jobs - the Commander-in-Chief needs to do his job; the soldiers do their jobs - Congress needs to do it's job.  She called attention to $7.4 billion taxpayers of Washington will pay in 2006 towards the war in Iraq/Afghanistan, thanking the audience for caring enough to be there and asking them to talk to neighbors, write letters to editor, write and call their legislators.  She wrapped up the presentation citing that the troops have no voice, yet the voice of the troops reflected in the troops polled in recent Zogby poll indicated
 72% of the troops said 'Bring Us Home'...listen to the voice of our people in uniform. She asked that people reach out to military families in their communities and help in our efforts to take care of them.   There was considerable appreciative applause throughout the presentation.
(photos to be provided)

(Reporter from Tacoma News Tribune conducted interviews with Joe Colgan, the two Iraq veterans and Lietta Ruger, link to article included; online registration so providing text.)

(Alex Bacon representing  GI Rights Hotline/Seattle Draft & Recruiting Counseling Center had table of resource material to include MFSO materials.)
WHAT:       March of Veterans, Military Families, and Survivors of Hurricane Katrina from Mobile AL to New Orleans, LA http://www.vetgulfmarch.org DATE: 3/14 - 3/19
TIME:          Rally in New Orleans, 3/19/06 10 AM
PLACE:      Enter Armstrong Park (Congo Square) and begin the Rally Against War and Injustice.
WHO:          Members of Military Families Speak Out, including:  Stacy Bannerman of Kent, Washington whose husband serves in the Washington Army National Guard, SFC Mortar Platoon, and served a year's tour of duty in Iraq. Upon return to the US, his Brigade were cut loose after a week of outprocessing, and they have gotten no post-deployment mental health counseling.
 March 18, 2006
live update from Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA from Biloxi on the Walkin' To New Orleans: Veterans' and Surviviors' March for Peace and Justice
Phone call from Stacy this morning. The number of marchers has grown to 150 or so and in each community the marchers are being greeted and joined by speaking out with their own stories as well.
Stacy told Lietta she was amazed at how the intersection of domestic and foreign policy continues to not only be evident but also a topic to which many people keep making reference.
The marchers have been participating in Church services along the way, using available campsites and hosting local residents. Camping has included permanent campfires and - as Lietta passed on Stacy's detailed description, she says it's a "Bayou Thing" complete with "Gator Gumbo".
Stacy was calling from Biloxi, Mississippi, this morning and over the course of the march the landscape has been heartbreaking. Many people have had little more than local churches with which to connect for possible help but mostly comfort and consolation. It is obvious that many who are still leaving do so with an awareness that they are not going to be coming back.
WHAT:      Sat March 18, silent vigil 9:20am Senator Cantwell fundraiser: the Palace Ballroom, 2100 5th Ave, Seattle.
WHO:        Joe Colgan, veteran, military family and father of Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003. Military families, veterans, and citizen voters will gather behind one or two 3 ft. by 9 ft. banners (in front of the entrance to the fund raiser) with the following excerpt from Joe's Seattle PI op-ed piece:
"I write as a veteran who has a special love for our troops and their families, and as the father of Lt. Benjami! n Colgan, who was killed in action in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2003... How many more Americans and Iraqis must perish or be maimed until the "stay-the-course" approach is discredited? ...It is time for Cantwell to help move the debate beyond pointless rhetoric by taking a clear position and holding public forums to promote a better understanding of the costs of this war and how to end it." (See the full op-ed at Common Dreams )
This will be a solemn presence that conveys a clear message to both those attending the fund raiser and to the press. Previous Military Families Speak Out events in March 2006 events noting this tragic 3rd year anniversary;
WHAT: Meeting with KOMO 4 TV news representatives to discuss discuss with KOMO 4 their past and future news/media coverage of terrorism and war in Iraq these past 3 yrs = adequate or inadequate and why?
DATE: Friday, March 17, 2006
WHO: Backbone Campaign, Amy Lacenski of Military Families Speak Out
Update from Seattle:
March 18, 2006

report from Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA

Participated in rally and march in Seattle, WA.   While it had been suggested there might be opportunity for her to speak representing MFSO, that opportunity did not happen.  Judy participated in the march and in distribution of MFSO materials. Alex Bacon representing  GI Rights Hotline/Seattle Draft & Recruiting Counseling Center had table of resource material to nclude MFSO materials.
Elizabeth Falzone of GSFSO assisted at the VFP table.
WHAT: Forum - Speak Out for Military Community
DATE: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 PLACE: Tacoma Unitarian Church
WHO: Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace. Purpose was to reach out to military families of Fort Lewis.
Lietta Ruger, the state chapter coordinator for Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), says that "the aim of the forum is to engage with other military families in Washington in discussion of the war, the mission, and support for the deployed troops. We hope to reach across division and splits and find some common ground for both sides of the discussion. We share in common the support of the troops deployed and have reason to be proud of them."
Media coverage included invitation and interviews in Fort Lewis Ranger and Tacoma News Tribune.
Also TNT reporter was at the event; article in TNT reporting on the event
Link to the national Military Families Speak Out calendar of events listing events with military families participating across the nation:

From: The Fort Lewis Ranger
A Newsweekly for active and retired military personnel and their families
FREE February16, 2006 Vol.55,No.7
Peace groups want soldiers
Groups invite soldiers and family members to express their opinions of the war
Several "peace" groups from Tacoma and Olympia are hosting a forum to let military members and their families speak out about the Iraq War.

"Speak Out for the Military Community"will be held at 7 p.m. March 1 at the Tacoma Unitarian Church, 1115 S.56th St.
The event is free and open to the public, but is especially focused for "for military families, personnel and veterans to freely discuss how the Iraq War is affecting our lives and our country," according
to the event flyer.
"In most settings, we're not free to talk about these things," said Terrance Zander, a member of Veterans for Peace.
"There isn't a free and open discussion for how the war has affected people's lives," Zander said. He brought up examples of a soldier's blog being shut down, soldiers not being able to send photos
home and soldiers not being able to express their true feelings about the war.
"We know a lot of people who would like to speak about how this is affecting their lives,"he said.  His organization along with Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families Speak Out and Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace will each make about 10-minute presentations at the beginning of the forum.
"The idea came about at a meeting between Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and OMJP about the need for dialogue among military families, about the conditions they are living in, and about the war,"said Zoltan Grossman, a member of OMJP.
"My understanding is that some families think they are facing their worries and concerns alone and want to find mutual support. The idea of the forum was to move away from confrontational 'politics' and see what concerns that different people in the community share."
Lietta Ruger of Military Families Speak Out describes the forum this way: "The aim of the forum is to engage with other military families in Washington in discussion of the Iraq/Afghanistan war, the mission,
and support for the deployed troops."
Ruger thinks this event is the first of its kind in Washington state.
Ruger hopes the forum will help the people there with different ideologies about the war to realize that they have more in common than not-
"We hope to reach across division and splits and find some common ground for both sides ofthe discussion,"Ruger said. "We share in common the support of the troops deployed and have reason to be proud of them."
Dave Lynn of OMJP agrees, and that organization is trying to find ways to support the troops even though they're against the war in Iraq, including doing food and clothing drives and offering referrals for people seeking counseling for post-traumatic stress syndrome.
"It willbe the beginning of an open dialogue with military families," Lynn said.
"We want to let them know there's broader support for them."
'We share in common the support of the troops deployed and have reason to be proud of them.'

The Tacoma News Tribune

Tacoma, WA - Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Military families, veterans invited to forum tonight

Last updated: March 1st, 2006 01:45 AM (PST)
A collection of groups opposed to the war in Iraq will host a forum tonight for military families, veterans and others to talk about their experiences.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be held at the Tacoma Unitarian Church, 1115 S. 56th St. The event is free and child care will be provided, organizers said.

Opening the meeting will be a panel of speakers from Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace.

They’ll be followed by an open forum where audience members will be invited to share their experiences.

“The aim of the forum is to engage with other military families in Washington in discussion of the war, the mission and support for the deployed troops,” Leitta Ruger, state chapter coordinator for Military Families Speak Out, said in a news release.

“We hope to reach across division and splits and find some common ground for both sides of the discussion. We share in common the support of the troops deployed and have reason to be proud of them.”
Michael Gilbert, The News Tribune

Originally published: March 1st, 2006 02:30 AM (PST)

Tacoma, WA - Thursday, March 2, 2006  
Families keep peace at talk on war
Last updated: March 2nd, 2006 07:32 AM (PST)
Members of area peace groups say standing at a freeway overpass near Fort Lewis and “seeing who can throw the biggest rock” hasn’t worked very well as a means of exchanging ideas about the war in Iraq.
So they tried something different Wednesday night. They hosted an open forum where military families, veterans and others could talk about their experiences with the war.
About 40 people showed up for what organizers said was the first such local event, held at the Tacoma Unitarian Church, 1115 S. 56th St. They said they expect to schedule more.
One after another, participants took turns telling about how the war has affected them.
One woman talked about the death of her cousin last August to a land mine in Tikrit. A young former soldier, now a student in Seattle, talked about the escalating trouble he saw the first few months after the fall of Baghdad. A mom whose son spent a year in Iraq with a Fort Lewis Stryker brigade talked about what it was like to hold her breath for a year, waiting for her son to return home safely.
Many talked about how it seems as though few people here realize there is even a war on, and that so much of the burden of fighting is being borne by so few.
“We wanted to create a space where military families can come and talk about what’s on their minds,” said facilitator Molly Gibbs of the Olympia chapter of Veterans for Peace, one of the host groups.
Most of Wednesday night’s participants were there with Veterans for Peace or one of the groups that put on the event – Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families Speak Out and the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace.
If there were sharp differences about the war in Iraq among audience members, they didn’t surface as speakers took their turn.
Nonetheless, people talked about how difficult they believe it is these days to have a meaningful discussion with those with whom they disagree. The politics are too bitter, too divisive, they said.
Elizabeth Falzone of Seattle said she’s become active in Gold Star Families Speak Out since her cousin, Army Lt. David Giaimo, 24, was killed Aug. 12, 2005.
“What I don’t understand is the violence, the hate that humanity is dealing with right now,” Falzone said. “That’s why I came here tonight, to be with you all. Hopefully, we can all learn from each other and try to find some understanding, because that’s what I’m really lacking.”
Judy Linehan of Military Families Speak Out, who has campaigned against the Iraq war while her son was serving there and since his return, said she has learned that there is much that pro and con can agree about.
“We have more that unites us than what divides us,” Linehan said, namely, the safety and welfare of the men and women serving in the military, and their fortunes when they return home.
Michael Gilbert: 253-597-8921
Originally published: March 2nd, 2006 02:30 AM (PST)

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