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Spc. Suzanne Swift: A Soldier's Courage


Contact: Katie Heald 503-313-1884
September 12, 2006
Geoffrey Millard 716-816-6686
Rep. DeFazio Agrees to Congressional Investigation
Iraq Vets' Sit-in for Suzanne Swift is Successful!
Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Veterans for Peace, and Oregon constituents achieved a victory on the road to ending military sexual violence today with a pledge from Congressman Peter DeFazio's (D-OR) office that he will be initiating a congressional investigation into the case of Army Specialist Suzanne Swift.
The group from Camp Democracy delivered a letter containing the phone numbers of Swift's chain of command and refused to leave the office until the Congressman acted appropriately on behalf of his constituent and all women in uniform. In unison with the direct action in Washington, constituents in Oregon and Rep. DeFazio's district flooded his offices with phone calls, emails and faxes in support of SPC Swift.
Rep. DeFazio also scheduled a personal meeting with Sara Rich, Suzanne's mother, and members of IVAW for September 21st, 2006.
A press conference will take place immediately following that meeting in front of the Rayburn House Office Building, September 21st at 11:30 a.m.
Suzanne Swift is a veteran of the Iraq war who is now held in custody at Fort Lewis, Washington. Swift had completed a tour of duty in Iraq, where she was sexually harassed and assaulted at the hands of three of her commanding officers continuing over the course of her entire deployment. Her efforts to report her treatment were met with disrespect and dismissed.
Finally, Swift suffered a breakdown due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and went absent without leave. She was apprehended in Eugene, OR in June, 2006 and instead of seeing her rapists investigated, Swift herself is facing court martial and prison time.
Congressman DeFazio has taken an important step toward ending military sexual violence despite the military's unwillingness to follow its own procedures and regulations. This a good first step toward making sure there is never again another Suzanne Swift.


MFSO writer Arthur Ruger

Thoughts about Suzanne and her Sisters

Published at Daily Kos , July 1, 2006

I'd like your blessing Dad

My generation is one in which there are still many living veterans. Furthermore, from our generation primarily come the children who make up the current blood and guts of America's military with its duty of defending the American Constitution, Country and Citizens.

If our children - or their children - come to us when considering enlistment or a commission, asking our reaction or even our blessing for their willingness to sign the bottom line, are we ready to speak honestly with them?  

Have the things we've taught them about citizenship and patriotism come back to gratify us?

... or haunt us?

Just what have we tried to instill in them  in terms of a civic and patriotic sense? What did we teach and model for them when they were young?

... we who were part of a generation of soldiers betrayed by a government we all wanted desperately to trust?

The letter from college arrives.

"Dear Dad .......

Dad, I'm signing on and I'd like your blessing and advice.

I'm not having too many doubts about signing on Dad. Not too many questions - but I want your support and endorsement. You've never talked much about your service and I need to know what's in your mind before I leave."

Very well then ....

Dear daughter,

As you know, you do not come from a family of warriors.

Your Grandfather was drafted.  

Your uncle and I joined up in the 1960's because it was that or the draft. Our national leadership had failed us badly because of their misguided and exaggerated fear of communist enemies;

Of foes who had never proven themselves capable of toppling continents nation-by-nation,  domino-like, let alone conquering the world based on military or economic power.

As a result of those years, the extremely poor choices made by politicians we trusted and elected left us with a powerful legacy not previously seen so powerfully in this country ... acceptance of dissent as a patriotic act.

To this day, that concept has not been refuted. More so, this current government has tragically demonstrated again just why it is vital that citizens hold government accountable.

Viet Nam legitimized a permanent change in civic thinking.

That's why a large segment of today's society sustained by legitimate baby-boomer wisdom remains willing to question the motives and speak out against the administration ... and with greater empowerment to resist attempt to isolate and marginalize by pseudo-patriotic politics.

Nowadays, our perspective is much more legitimate than it was in the 60's and 70's.

We as citizens are duty bound to take and hold the ethical and moral high ground in this country rather than trust broadcast blowhards and pretend political genuises.

The party officials, cheerleading TV networks and pundit blowhards don't have a monopoly on patriotism, daughter. Those are - every one of them - the least qualified to tell you or me what it means to be patriotic.

They are the cut-and-run actors from my generation who have never served and have never justifiably spoken for the troops and veterans in today's world.

You are going to join an all-volunteer military force that has the same commission given the military services during World War II. The big difference today is that the bulk of the troops back then were drafted. Your choice is voluntary - signing a contract offered by the Pentagon.

When you sign, remember that we who are not military members make up - along with you - the citizenship that expects you to honor that contract you endorse.

Citizens of this country expect total fealty from you which means loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution, and to the Flag.  Citizens of this country expect the same from our elected leadership. They all owe us that same fealty, loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution and to the Flag.

Citizens also expect of our soldiers the highest honesty, integrity and honorable behavior of which they are capable. Military behavior that is dishonest, lacks integrity and dishonors troops, citizens and country is a betrayal of all that America has traditionally stood for.

The same is absolutely true and equally vital of our elected and appointed leaders.

Citizens do not expect that our fully trained and capable military members are so brainwashed to fight and kill that they have transitioned to a place of shame. While desiring that our military children develop instinctive and effective military and combat skills, we do not expect our children to be turned into mindless killing machines devoid of conscience or the ability to make a moral choice.

Arguments insisting that combat training must teach instinctive hate, bigotry, racial profiling and cultural inferiority in order to create armies and soldiers capable of efficient killing and destruction of enemies are not legitimate reasons for why we fight.

Nor do they hold out a possibly for what we hope the end result of a national military objective will look like.

Citizens want and expect that our troops are warriors of honor who instinctively act and react with exceptional valor;

...Warriors who reflect national ethics, a positive national morality, compassion and respect.

If those things are lacking in the leadership, a way to intervene before a corrupt leadership can poison the military is vital.

The nation cannot abide armies of failed or corrupted warriors.

If those values are lacking in the country, it is the citizens who have failed the military.

Military service is and should always be thought of as an honorable profession where men and women serve with honor;  

... are treated with honor by a grateful nation.

If you are joining the military, I expect you to have a career of honor.

I fear for you but will keep those fears managed in my own heart.

It is your life, not mine, and I do not pretend to dictate your choices.

Nor is it a life that belongs specifically to a General, a Secretary of Defense, a President or a Political Party.

You are not to be a tool of helping a party focus national priorities in such a way as to win elections.

There is no military  code of silence or submissive loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief that requires that you do not seriously consider the legality and morality of orders given you regardless of their source.

I of course hope that your own sense of civic and moral integrity is honed sufficiently strong as to allow you to perceive almost instantaneously whether or not an order is illegal.

But if you need time and have time, then I expect you to take that time and make up your own mind. Whatever decision you make - if informed by your own study, searching and wisdom - is all anyone can ask of you.

Blind obedience in a combat moment is not the same as blind obedience when you are not in a combat moment. Rather in a moment of moral or ethical questioning when a different kind of instinct takes over, if you have a strong sense of ethics and honor, you will not be helplessly tempted to shame yourself, your unit, or your country.

You have a right to expect and function under the integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military.

You have a right to expect and demand the Commander In Chief's honesty, honor, skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

I in turn have a right to expect that you pay attention - for me, for your family and for your country - to whether or not your Commander in Chief is being honest, honorable and legal.

The Commander-in-chief is hardly going to order me to do something illegal or immoral. If he gives an illegal or immoral order there's a greater risk he will give it to you whom he might see as bound to obey blindly and without question.

So your father, your family and your country are at the mercy of your ability to discern and act on that discernment.

You are then left at the mercy of your father's, your family's and your country's ability to discern the acts of our President, to hold him accountable and take action - if necessary - to make sure he is accountable.

You must trust me to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies.

In closing, my adult child, I express my pride in you and your willingness to act on your desires only after you've given them serious thought and consideration.

I accept and endorse your decision as I trust it is your own.

You do your part and serve.

I'll do my part and cover your back.

Anyone inside or outside this government who wants to criticize, harm or otherwise betray you will have to deal directly with me.

I promise.



"It's time to punch the clock ... the Battle for America has begun"

Click on link above for an excellent 4 minutes of getting your patriotic fire relit.