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Lietta Ruger, Profile, Military Family speaking on war in Iraq

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Published Articles that Featured Lietta Ruger speaking on war in Iraq

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Newshour with Jim Lehrer; Homefront Battle. Lietta Ruger,MFSO,speaking as lay preacher, gives sermon at her church challenging the President's war policy in Iraq. aired Oct 4, 2004, audio, video,transcript

Excerpt;  Dealing with and countering the criticism
LEE HOCHBERG: Their message has resonated among some families with longtime military backgrounds. In rural South Bend, Washington, lay pastor Lietta Ruger used her church pulpit to assail President Bush for misleading America.
LIETTA RUGER, Military Family: I am a military family. We are a military family. I speak out in support of the troops, by bringing them home and ending this war that we know is a product of lies.
LEE HOCHBERG: Ruger's son-in-law and nephew are in the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. Her husband, Arthur, and her father, were in the Air Force.
LIETTA RUGER: I am not from the peace movement. I am not Jane Fonda on the street. I am not a leftover '60s protester. I am a military brat, wife of a veteran. But Vietnam taught us something. We have to do critical thinking when we give permission for our country to go to war.
LEE HOCHBERG: The Rugers say their son-in-law doesn't object to their criticism of the war. He shared his thoughts with us by phone, requesting we shield his identity.
SON-IN-LAW: To go to war on the basis that we went to war on, I don't agree with that. And then to get lied to by the president. We know people are speaking out against the war, not against us. We're not dumb. We know.
LIETTA RUGER: He said, "Mom, it's wrong here. We're not doing anything. We're hurting, we're harming."
LEE HOCHBERG: Despite her son-in- law's support, Ruger's extended military family has been furious with her stand, and she has been severely criticized over the Internet.

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Seattle Times; Lietta Ruger, MFSO, meeting with Representative Sandra Romero. published Oct 18, 2004

Excerpt;   Lietta Ruger, mother-in-law and aunt to soldiers sent to Iraq, has spent months speaking out against the war.

Last night was the first time she publicly spoke out for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Ruger and her husband drove from southwestern Washington yesterday to meet in a Kent living room with several women touring the country for the Democrat's campaign in a bid to show that military families are unhappy with President Bush's handling of the war.

"I think the only opportunity this country has is for a change in commander-in-chief," Ruger said to the roughly dozen people who gathered over coffee and chocolate-chip cookies.


Ruger, who grew up in a military family, has been active with a national anti-war group called Military Families Speak Out. She said she opposed the invasion of Iraq from the outset, feeling it had no relationship to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that put the nation on a war footing. In late 2003, she turned to Internet chat rooms in search of support and a community.

There she found the military families group and began speaking out against the war, breaking what she described as a taboo among military families against criticizing the president. But she didn't decide to publicly back Kerry until a recent meeting between several Washington military families and members of the Kerry campaign, including Wade Sanders, an undersecretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration.
Regardless of who wins the presidential race, Ruger plans to continue pushing for better protection of the troops.

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The Episcopal Voice magazine; Leap of Faith; Lietta Ruger, MFSO. March 2005

Excerpt;  St. John’s, South Bend, parishioner, Lietta Ruger, a member of Military Families Speak Out, was interviewed by Jim Lehrer for his PBS program NewsHour. The program included a segment from a church service where Ruger, who is in training as part of the new Total Ministry team at St. John’s, preached a sermon against the war. Ruger commented, “I do not think at this time that our church is dealing realistically with the facts of the war in Iraq or its impact
on military families who carry the burdens in an almost isolationist atmosphere. I would like to see the Episcopal Church take a more proactive approach on the national and global stage to call for an end to this war.”

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Daily Olympian; delegation of military families presents Resolution compelling Washington Governor Gregoire to call home the Washington National Guard. published 03-09-05 Lietta Ruger, MFSO.


Three military-family activists hoping to pull U.S. troops back from Iraq have met with an aide to Gov. Christine Gregoire, urging her to question President Bush's authority to keep Washington National Guard troops deployed in the occupied country.

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"This group was very serious ... very direct. The governor will hear about it, and we'll see where she goes with it," said Antonio Ginatta, Gregoire's policy adviser on general government issues, including the military.

Ginatta met with Susan Livingston, sister of Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade member Joe Blickenstaff, who died in Iraq, as well as widow Angela Blickenstaff and Lietta Ruger. Ruger said she has a nephew and son-in-law who served in Iraq.


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Seattle Times; Thousands Rally, Seattle Center, 2nd Anniversary of Iraq war. Lietta Ruger, MFSO,guest speaker. published March 20, 2005


As military families go, Lietta Ruger said, she is as red, white and blue as any proud mother.

But how could she reconcile her loyalty to the armed forces with her disdain for the Iraq war?

For months, she kept silent — until her son-in law faced mortar attacks every night at his Baghdad compound. That's when the Episcopal preacher in her came out.

Ruger, 53, of Bay Center, Pacific County, spoke out against the war on PBS' "The NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer last fall and to her congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church in South Bend, Pacific County.

And again yesterday: On the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, she gave an impassioned speech explaining why she believes the war in Iraq is unjust, before a crowd of anti-war protesters at Seattle Center. Organizers put the number of participants at 5,000.


In Seattle, Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew are about to serve their second tour in Iraq, and who herself was raised in a military family, addressed the crowd knowing that "a lot of military [families] are not very happy with my message."

But, she said, "You should not let someone else define patriotism for you."


Ruger feels more at peace now that she is expressing her displeasure over the war and what it is doing to her family, she said. While her son-in-law served 15 months in Iraq, she had to console her daughter and help out by baby-sitting her three grandchildren.

Ruger declined to give her son-in-law's name but said "He will do his mission, but his preference is to be home." He is a 25-year old Army sergeant. "If I could do it, I would go in his place," she said.

The woman who once stayed silent now lobbies Olympia lawmakers to get the Washington National Guard out of Iraq and has joined a military-family group against the war.

Ruger, who grew up on a military base in Japan and 11 years ago married a Vietnam veteran, Arthur Ruger, 57, said, "I have absolute pride in the military."

Her husband also gave the crowd some advice: "You can be against the war, you can disagree with Bush and still be a patriot."


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Seattle Weekly; Closing the Credibility Gap,Geov Parrish, published March 23, 2005. Lietta Ruger, MFSO

Excerpt;    But the White House does care, very much, when members of the military and of military families start speaking out. By far the most powerful speaker at Saturday's rally was a Pacific County woman, Lietta Ruger, who has a son-in-law and nephew about to serve their second tours of duty in Iraq. Hers is a military family; she is middle-aged, patriotic, and able to cast the risks and costs of Iraq in starkly personal terms. In a word, she has credibility that those of us without personal links to the struggle in Iraq do not have.

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in Working for Change;article; 'The Road Home'by Geov Parrish, published March 21, 2005. Lietta Ruger, MFSO.

in Working for Change; column by Geov Parrish; Terri, the war, and more. Readers sound off on a variety of recent columns. published March 31, 2005 Lietta Ruger, MFSO

Excerpt;  My name is Lietta Ruger, of Pacific Northwest Military Families Speak Out. Some people have called me or emailed me to point out your article at Working for Change. I wanted to email you to thank you for expressing your thoughts as it appears to me you have given thought to the "what next" in the peace and activism movements to try to end the war in Iraq. It looks like your words carry some weight and I am optimistic that the momentum in the movement is in a growing phase, and can grow more rapidly with the unique perspectives of the military family voice.
Obviously, for my own family, I have a vested interest in the well-being of our two loved ones who have been deployed in Iraq in extended 15-month tour and are facing now a second deployment to Iraq within a few short months. But even beyond the immediacy of how the war is affecting our personal lives, we try to lend voice to the plight for many of the troops in urging an end to the quagmire that has developed and will keep troops in combat for years to come. While I haven't been able to yet articulate, there is for me as a military brat, the young wife to a young husband drafted and sent to Vietnam, married a second time now to Vietnam-era veteran, and now the mother (in-law) and aunt to two young Iraq veterans, a strong sense of betrayal in the exploitive use by this administration of the very values that soldiers, veterans, and military families hold dear.
It is clear that the military is attempting to creatively meet the challenges set forth by Rumsfeld and this administration to keep the troop numbers lean and mean when in fact the military knows it needs far more boots on the ground than is being provided. Employing strategies like extended tours, Stop Loss to keep troops in beyond their enlistment contracts, activating National Guard, Reserves and even now the older guard of IRR, the military has exhausted its options for retention and recruitment to meet the administration's shortsighted goals.
Recruitment for both Marines and National Guard is down now for two consecutive months, going into a third month. That in itself is a statement that our young do not wish to fight in Iraq. Meanwhile, the too few remaining troops that do deeply care about their comrades and being there for them, are left to try to do the impossible; react in combat situation knowing they are too thinly stretched to be effective at their missions.
I sense our young men and women feel keenly the sense of having been abandoned and betrayed by not only the administration, but by the citizens of our nation as well, although it is highly unlikely any of them would say so aloud or in public... such is the nature of the military culture of silence.
I recognize, with my own military family voice, how much I need the support of the peace, faith-based, political, and activist groups to help lift up that voice for it to resonate more broadly with the citizenry. I also recognize that the military voice cannot be abridged to become the anti-war voice of peace and activist groups or it loses effectiveness as a military family voice.
Military families are loathe to bring any kind of dishonor to their own and the anti-war message in and of itself is not well suited to the military family that is opposed to this war. In my opinion, there are more military families that question and challenge why our loved ones are deployed in combat, and would speak to their uncertainties, however, given a playing field limited to anti-war or pro-war there is little middle ground for the military family to give voice to their unique position regarding the war. We need to be able to speak proudly of our loved ones' service, commitment, and sacrifices, while at the same time expressing the concerns that the proud honor and dignity of being military is being misused, exploited, and betrayed.
--Lietta Ruger, Bay Center WA

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Pacific Northwest Portal; WashBlog by Brian Moran; 'You should not let someone else define patriotism for you',published March 21, 2005. Lietta Ruger, MFSO.


"You should not let someone else define patriotism for you"

From the Sunday Seattle Times, Lietta Ruger and her husband were featured in an article on the March 19th anti-war rally in Seattle.

As military families go, Lietta Ruger said, she is as red, white and blue as any proud mother.

But how could she reconcile her loyalty to the armed forces with her disdain for the Iraq war?

For months, she kept silent — until her son-in law faced mortar attacks every night at his Baghdad compound. That's when the Episcopal preacher in her came out.

Ruger, 53, of Bay Center, Pacific County, spoke out against the war on PBS' "The NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer last fall and to her congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church in South Bend, Pacific County.

I would be honored to have Lietta as my mom if I was in the cesspool formally known as Iraq, fighting a bogus war for oil. Support for the troops can easily be misconstrued into support for the policy of war, it takes strong people like Lietta and her husband and groups like the local group they lead, nwmfso.org to challenge those misconceptions.

It is very hard to do that, however. She has been labeled a traitor by some who think that speaking out against an unjust war is 'giving comfort to the enemy'. How can you call someone who's son-in-law and nephew are in the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad, and who's husband, and father, were in the Air Force, a traitor to America?

I am sorry, that is just plain bullshit. Lietta is a patriot, and anyone who cannot understand that is 'Anti-American' and has no concept of what makes this country so great.

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Portland Indy Media; Military family to speak out in Bend against the war. published March 21, 2005. Lietta Ruger, MFSO

Text;  Military Family Will Speak in Opposition to Iraqi War
Saturday, March 26,
At 'What are the Costs of War?' conference at COCC in Bend
Lietta and Arthur Ruger are military through and through. Lietta was raised on a U.S. military base. Arthur is a Vietnam veteran. Their son-in-law and a nephew are soon to be redeployed to Iraq. The Rugers are proud of their family's military service, but opposed to the war. They've preached against the war in St. John's Episcopal Church in South Bend, WA, and spoken up about the war on Jim Lehrer's PBS show "The NewsHour," and at last Saturday's peace march in Seattle.
The Ruger's, representing Pacific Northwest Military Families Speak Out, will bring their antiwar message to Bend on Saturday, March 26, as featured speakers at an afternoon conference--"What is the Cost of War?"--at Central Oregon Community College.
The conference, sponsored by the Central Oregon Peace Network, will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 155 of the Boyle Education Center. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served midway through the program.
J. David Kinzie, M.D., director of the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon, will also be a featured speaker at the conference. Dr. Kinzie will speak on the psychological effects of massive trauma, such as war and torture, on refugees and Americans. Dr. Kinzie is a Professor of Psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and a psychiatrist with the Intercultural Psychiatric Program at OHSU.
Local speakers will include Nick Biddle on the historical comparison between the Vietnam and Iraqi wars; Ray Duray on the economic costs of war; and Unitarian Universalist Minister Jeanne Pupke and Quaker Cath Finney, who will address the spiritual costs of war.
The message of Military Families Speak Out is not always welcomed by other military families, Lietta Ruger acknowledges. But, she adds, "You should not let someone else define patriotism for you." She and Arthur have been lobbying Washington State lawmakers to bring the Washington National Guard home from Iraq.
Military Families Speak Out is also promoting a resolution calling on the Oregon legislature and Governor Ted Kulongoski to withdraw Oregon's National Guard troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Recent media reports have warned of the growing wildfire dangers this year because of severe drought conditions and the lack of National Guard troops and equipment to fight them because so many troops and helicopters are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has urged the Pentagon to bring National Guard troops and equipment back to the West to fight fires this summer.
For more information on the conference and Central Oregon Peace Network, contact Diana Popp at  dlpopp@bendbroadband.com or leave a message at 541-385-3320.

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Bend Bulletin; Peace promoters object to human cost of Iraq war. published 03-27-05. Lietta Ruger, MFSO

Excerpt; Washington resident and featured speaker Lietta Ruger, however, focused on the loss of life. According to The Associated Press, 1,520 troops have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war.
Ruger herself has a son-in-law and a nephew who are deployed in Iraq.
"We need to get out, we need to get our kids safe," she said. "There is no argument (for the war) that has any value when you look at the human cost."
Ruger said she and her husband, Arthur, are members of the regional chapter of Military Families Speak Out, a nationwide organization of families that have loved ones in Iraq and are opposed to the war.
Arthur Ruger, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam, said every day is a trial for the families of service members.
"If your community has parents with sons, daughters, husbands in Iraq — talk to them. Help them out. Buck them up," he said.
Holding the U.S. government accountable for a costly, messy war, Arthur Ruger said, "(is) my duty to my son (and) to your son and daughter."

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Portland Indy Media; The Costs of War. published 03-26-05. Lietta Ruger, MFSO

Excerpt;  A Symposium in Bend
What are the Costs of War? (Bend)
A series of lectures and discussions were held today in Bend over the various aspects of the costs of war.
When I arrived at about 3 PM Ms. Lietta Ruger was speaking. Both her son-in-law and her nephew are due to be redeployed in Iraq.
She pointed out that the realistic figures for the loss of troops in Iraq is close to 4,000 not the 1,525 as reported by the mainstream media. The reason for this is that the U. S. military only counts the ones who are killed immediately in combat. The other deaths are counted as "mortally wounded" because they died later. (This is yet another example of the U.S. military distorting the facts).

She also mentioned the 11,522 wounded who are flown in at night to prevent public observation.

What hasn't been counted by the U.S. is the 100 thousand dead Iraqis who would still be alive were it not for U. S. intervention.

She mentioned how the voluntary U.S. military had become entrapment because of the Stop-loss program now in place, people who have come to the end of there stay in Iraq are required to stay longer.
Next Mr. Arthur Ruger spoke. He is a veteran of the Vietnam war. He said that he resented the fact that Zel Miller (A "right" wing fascist pundit) had stolen patriotism from him by claiming in as the territory of the Republicans.

He said that we don't need to feel reluctant to claim to be patriotic. "There is no 'No Trespassing' sign on patriotism or the moral high ground. (The Republicans have no moral high ground). He also said that we have a high duty to cover the backs of our troops.

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The Daily Evergreen, WSU; Group looks to bring National Guard home. published 04-04-05 Lietta Ruger, MFSO.


The organization, called Washington Military Families Speak Out (WMFSO) is the local branch of the larger MFSO that is working to bring National Guard troops home in other parts of the Northwest in coordination with the efforts to help with the fire season.

According to their Web site, the members of the group have family members involved in Iraq, including ones that were part of the Ft. Lewis group that was attacked in December. Lietta Ruger, a senior member of the Pacific Northwest MFSO, says all of the National Guard is needed at home.

"We have National Guard activated to a point that is beyond normal, and we have needs at the state level," Ruger said. "The concerns go above and beyond politics."

The group has brought a resolution, which is available online, to the Governor's office with hopes to form a continuing conversation and a formation of a task force to help. The most important part of this process is citizen involvement Ruger said, and this is what the group is working toward at this time.

"We are optimistic and hopeful that the citizens will respond to the states needs," Ruger said. "It's not just a military family concern, it is a state voter constituency concern."


 Ruger said that the resolution has been brought to the attention of Antonio Ginatta of the governor's policy advisory office. Since then, however, there as not been a formal comment.


Similar actions have been made in other states around the nation. The first movement to bring home National Guard troops occurred in a Vermont town hall meeting, Ruger said. Also, according to the WMFSO Web site, similar actions have been made in Oregon and Montana where the state will also bring home some of it's National Guard to help fight fires.

Ruger said the most important thing is to have an ongoing dialogue with the governor's office and to not turn this into a game of politics.

"We want to be supportive of Governor Gregoire," Ruger said.

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NPR, KPLU 88.5; National Guardsman Challenges 'Stop-Loss' Policy; aired April 06, 2005. audio and transcript. Lietta Ruger, MFSO


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The Source, Bend,OR, Article 'Supporting the Troops, A Conversation with Lietta and Arthur Ruger' April 7, 2005

Supporting the Troops
A conversation with Lietta and Arthur Ruger
By H. Bruce Miller
(NOTE: Lietta and Arthur Ruger of Bay Center, WA, have a son-in-law and nephew on military duty in Iraq and are active with the Pacific Northwest chapter of Military Families Speak Out, a nationwide anti-war group of Americans with relatives in the armed forces. Lietta Ruger spoke at an anti-war conference in Bend March 28. Before doing so, she and her husband, an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, were interviewed by Source Weekly News Editor H. Bruce Miller. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.)
The Source Weekly: What motivated both of you to get involved in this activity? I guess that’s another way of asking why you oppose the war.
Lietta: When my own [son-in-law and nephew] were going to Iraq the tension was just too much for me. So I left my employment [with the state of Washington] and devoted myself to this, and he [Arthur] stayed [as a state employee]. So we were reduced to one income, figuring we could squeak by. … He’s kind of the backbone, the provider for the family, while I do this kind of thing. …
Arthur: I voted for Al Gore. I had problems with Bush as a candidate before any of this started. I didn’t see 9/11 as an opportunity for the direction Bush wanted to go. I saw it as a tragedy, and I was as angry about it as anybody else. When they started bombing Afghanistan, to me that was exactly what they should have done—go to the source, where Bin Laden supposedly is. … We have a son-in-law who has three little kids. Two of them are, like, four and three. And he had already committed to go into the military … at that time he was only 22, 23. But at that time we started to hear noises about Iraq, all the claims about Iraq …
tSW: The famous WMDs [Weapons of Mass Destruction]?
Arthur: Yeah. All the reasons didn’t add up. And for me it was like [when] my mother got mad at my little brother, but she couldn’t find my little brother so she slapped my sister. It was kind of a family joke. This was really what I was perceiving. … I remember during the election [campaign, Democratic candidate Sen. John] Kerry said a police action was what was called for, and I thought we shouldn’t focus so much of our military effort in one direction.
tSW: Kerry got a lot of heat for saying that terrorism is really a police issue, that you fight it with police tactics. But this approach of trying to attack it with conventional military weapons and tactics, I compare it to trying to kill mosquitoes with a shotgun.
Arthur: Or a field mouse with an artillery piece.
tSW: But yet it has a great deal of popular support. … Why do you suppose so many people did, and do, support the war?
Arthur: I think to a certain extent—and it’s a significant extent—by the time we started to wake up to [the fact that] there were no weapons [of mass destruction in Iraq] and all the other excuses, we were in it in a committed way. … Somehow the old mindset that we needed to get out of Vietnam with honor took hold here. We broke it and we couldn’t walk away from it.
tSW: But I think there’s some validity to that. I mean, don’t we have some responsibility to clean up the mess we made?
Lietta: No. I do not. The war from the very beginning was the wrong call. I come from a military background, grew up in a military family during peacetime. … My first marriage, my young husband was drafted into Vietnam. … What did we learn out of Vietnam? You can’t take just a piece of it, you have to take all of it. So yes, let’s honor and support our troops in combat, but let’s also question why they are in combat and whether they need to be in combat. The whole lesson of Vietnam is, “Do we want to do this again?” … And then “support the troops” got hijacked, and it became “support the war.”
tSW: Well, it becomes code for “support the president.” That’s exactly what happened in Vietnam. I mean, I was around then. … They didn’t have those magnetic stick-on “Support the Troops” ribbons then. Boy, it seems like nine out of every 10 cars you see have one or two or three or half a dozen of those on it. What do you think people are trying to say by putting those on their vehicles?
Lietta: I think there’s a terrible yearning to say, “We know we’re in combat over there and we don’t want to be on the wrong side of things.” But I also think it’s a very lazy way to deal with the reality of war. If we’re going to be at war then our country, in unison, needs to make that effort. [It’s] disproportionately balanced between the military families, who must make the sacrifices, and the civilian population, who go on with life and aren’t asked to make any sacrifices.
Arthur: From my own perst?onal point of view, the legacy from Vietnam is in reality a smarter electorate, one that is more willing to take responsibility. … [The military] is asked to trust and support the president. But the reason they can trust and support the president is that we [civilians] have got their backs. We’re supposed to make sure the president is not going off [and doing something] because he’s incompetent or foolhardy … that he’s doing the right thing for the right reason. …
tSW: It’s also interesting to see the shifting rationales for the war. First it was sold on the basis that Saddam had WMDs, and now it’s [that] we had to liberate the poor oppressed Iraqis, who we didn’t care about for 30 years previously. But people just buy into it. How do you attempt to counter that? I mean, [how do you respond when people say] aren’t you for freedom? Don’t the Iraqis deserve to be free?
Lietta: If you’re saying you’re willing to commit your own children [to that cause], then we need to have a public dialogue about it. But we have not had that dialogue. It was not presented to us in that framing. It was presented to us as an ultimate threat to our nation. So those arguments don’t carry water anymore. … The military is down the third month in a row for recruiting; the kids just don’t want to go.
Arthur: If you’re a family with a loved one and you lose that loved one, you have to feel that he died for a good reason. You have to find that his loss is purposeful, noble. We’ve seen the two extremes. We’ve seen the raging [anti-war] parents who tried to interrupt the Republican Convention … [and} people who are just totally offended by the fact of military families speaking out [against the war]. They are just so offended that yt?ou would [imply] that their son died in vain. That’s where dialogue is also required. …
tSW: Do you encounter a lot of hostility as you travel around and make appearances?
Lietta: Actually, no. It is out there, and we have had it personally. But I think because we live where we live and not, for example, Texas or some other state, we don’t see it as visibly. … This administration framed the dialogue so that you can only be for or against. And that’s too small a perception for such a large issue. …
The re-election [of Bush] was a devastation, and it was a devastation to my son-in-law. Because here’s the message my son-in-law got after serving 15 months in Iraq, being home, still in, wondering if he’ll have to serve again—and the country votes for Bush and the war. And he said, “Mom, what does this country want from me?”
tSW: You say the country voted for Bush and war, but was the country really offered an alternative? Kerry was not a real anti-war alternative.
Arthur: I don’t know where we would be if Kerry had been elected … but we cannot separate the politics, war and religion in this country. Fourteen states … voted for the initiatives against gay marriage, so by logic in order to say that was a separate issue you’d have to assume they went to the next section [on the ballot] and voted for Kerry. … By and large the voters against gay marriage voted for Bush. … It’s very, very unwise to say there’s a domestic religious issue and it’s not connected to the politics of the war. You can hear it it?n the rhetoric. In December, I think it was, Jerry Falwell made a statement in effect saying you could kill in the name of Jesus. And this has a high impact.
tSW: My point is that the voters were not given a meaningful alternative, a chance to vote for or against the war. I mean, Kerry was not saying, “Vote for me and I’ll bring the troops home tomorrow,” he voted for the war authorization resolution …
Lietta: It was a slim thread of hope at election time that this country would mobilize to say, “We have a problem with the war.” The message my son-in-law and his comrades got was, “Well, America wants us to stay in the war.” We sent that message. That changed it for me. …
The other thing that shifted is it used to be an all-volunteer military; last year that stopped—it’s not an all-volunteer military. They cannot get out—they cannot get out at all. They are using every creative strategy they can to keep those kids in there. And the public’s not hearing about it.
Last year at this time we were expecting a homecoming; instead we got a phone call saying no, they’ve been extended. Some of the [troops} were actually on the plane [to come home] and were turned back. …
tSW: Going back to the last election, [Bush] came out of that saying, “I have a mandate—I have political capital,” kind of interpreting it as a blanket endorsement for all his policies, a blank check for whatever he wanted to do. Do you think he was overreaching? … Is Bush right?
Lietta: Bush isn’t right. The president has not been right on this since he started it. After Afghanistan this country lost control and the president took control. And we have not found a way to get it back.
Arthur: If somebody wins—what was it, 51 percent to 49 percent?—and calls it a mandate, common sense says that’s not a mandate. What he’s insisting is that this election was a referendum on the war, and it really wasn’t just a referendum on the war. That was part of it. Then you come back to all the other [issues} that have divided and polarized [the country] and are reflected in that stupid red and blue map. …
tSW: Do you think what you’re doing is making an actual impact? Do you think you’re changing minds, or are you preaching to the choir?
Lietta: There’s been a new momentum. I did get discouraged, because it was like, we’ve been at this for two years and we haven’t seen any shift at all, it’s not effective. [But] there’s been momentum building. I can feel the rhythm, I can feel the shift, I can feel the change. What we are doing is having an impact, and this is the time to continue and escalate it. It is moving, not just from pro [war] to anti—it is moving out to the citizenry, and that’s where we want to get it, out to a wider audience. …
tSW: How do you answer the Bush supporters, the war supporters, who say, “Well, they had an election over there [in Iraq]—I’m not sure what they elected, but they elected something—and this vindicates Bush and proves that he was right”?
Lietta: I wish I had that person in front of me so I could say, “All right, if the Iraqis are now capable of running their own country, let’s bring our troops home and let them have their country. Their job is done; their mission is finished. What do you want them to stay there for? They had elections, it’s a free country—let it be free.”

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GI Special; Military Project

published April 21, 2005
I Fight To Protect My Own 2 Loved Ones From A 2nd Deployment
From: Lietta Ruger
To: GI Special
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 5:47 PM
Subject: Santiago decision, Stop Loss, and contracts
While our troops are imprisoned in 2nd and 3rd and potentially ongoing repetitious deployments, the language of our nation confines them to that imprisonment indefinitely.
Dear GI Special
I am forwarding the below to you for consideration. It was a response I sent to CNN at their request for an interview with a soldier affected by Santiago v Rumsfeld decision on Stop Loss. The request from CNN came to MFSO who forwarded it on to member MFSO families in Seattle area.
I called the CNN correspondent, indicated my willingness to speak on behalf of the experience of my own two loved ones affected directly by Stop Loss in 2nd deployments to Iraq. The correspondent indicated I should put it in writing and send to her, which I did (below). I did not hear back from her.
I then decided to forward the below to every newspaper in our state, Washington. I heard back from none of the publications.
Rather than have the below go unpublished anywhere, I am submitting for your consideration.
It is important to me for several reasons, on a personal level which is addressed below, but also because our MFSO member families in Washington and Oregon worked on behalf of support for Emiliano Santiago at his hearing trial in Seattle, WA on April 6, 2005. A support Santiago event was coordinated and held at University of Washington the day of the hearing, with press release by MFSO and also at local level media sources.
Correctly, our local media focused on the history of Santiago's legal suit and the decision. However, as a sideline to the story, any reporting of military families coming out in a show of support for one of our troops was mentioned only incidentally and dismissively.
It is wearisome to me to have stories of military families speaking out represented as anti-war and sometimes dismissively as disgruntled family members.
Of note, the young man who coordinated the support rally on behalf of MFSO and Gold Star Families for Peace is from a family deeply affected by the war in that he lost his younger brother in Iraq, killed in 2003.
In other words, as I fight to protect my own 2 loved ones from a 2nd deployment to Iraq in fear of having to wear the two hats of MFSO and GSFfP, this young man endeavors to work in his efforts that I might not have to wear the same two hats he now wears.
If protests by military families are not being covered by media so appear to be non-events, and supportive rallies by military families are not media-covered as a fair representation of the message meaning which is one of authentic support for our troops, and if a very personal opportunity to support a young man willing to challenge the Stop Loss on behalf of himself and with the potential for larger positive ramifications for all our troops went unattended by the larger military family community, what are any next steps that can be taken?
While there has indeed been some responsible media who have covered the authenticity of our message as military families, more so media prefers to paint us with the anti-war brush which dilutes the message.
As has been pointed out to me by a very reputable news correspondent, the phenomenon of military families speaking out is itself a message and one not seen before, even in Vietnam-era.
It took the soldiers themselves speaking out in Vietnam-era with their own military families and other supporters joining their efforts. In this era, as military families dare to challenge the status quo of the traditional military culture of silence and adhering to that code of silence, it is a significant change in approach.
While I cannot presume to speak for all or even the larger population of military families, I can and do speak with a seasoned voice and I hope young families that hear an older generation military family take issue with the status quo will find a way to bridge the traditional 'wisdom' to find their own voices in this time of war in Iraq.
The silence is killing our young.
The silence is killing the family structures of military families. The silence is affecting the next generation as 1 million youngsters under age 11 who are among the military families learn at our instruction of stoically enduring an unwarranted war in silence.
I personally believe there are many more military families out there that are sympathetic to our efforts to try to speak out on behalf of the troops and their families, but are still apprehensive of reprisals to their own loved ones and I fully appreciate that the very reprisals they fear are a potential reality.
It would seem to me that there would be some middle ground that fosters permission for military families to express the concerns they do have for their deployed loved ones; i.e. equipment shortages, repeat deployments, back door draft, impact on families with extended and repeat deployments, returning maimed loved ones and their future ability to provide for their families, returning loved ones who will face the long road of PTSD and recovery which will impact the soldier and family, and the need for adequate resources to be put in place now if military families are to endure the sustained trauma of repetitious deployments.
At this time it is said that the combat actions in Iraq will continue for years if not a decade.
It is incredulous to think that a soldier and family can sustain under the present conditions for this duration of time without a complete breakdown of the soldier, the family, the military itself while citizens and civilians continue to 'discuss' the pros and cons and leave the dirty work and trauma to military families.
It is a disproportionate burden and weight carried by the soldier and military family in an uneven distribution of sacrifice and responsibility when our nation has declared itself at war.
At the very least this nation at war owes more than a 'thank you for keeping us safe' to the soldier and family and it is past time for the nation at large to take a larger responsibility. At the very least this nation at war needs to address the realities of its military population with a deeper concern than superficial rhetoric confined to a pro or anti sentiment.
While our troops are imprisoned in 2nd and 3rd and potentially ongoing repetitious deployments, the language of our nation confines them to that imprisonment indefinitely.
If our nation agrees to the conditions that now define deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, then it is reasonable to expect this same nation to honestly address their agreement directly rather than hiding behind the implied consent of silence. It is no longer a matter of pro-war or anti-war, it is now a discussion based on reality and it's past time to get real about the public dialogue.
It is past time to expect military families to silently endure the burdens they have been forced to carry with some off-handed dismissal that they signed up for this or that they knew what they were getting into when they signed up or that they have an obligation to some age-old tradition to keep their silence and just suck it up and press on somehow.
That is unrealistic and not in keeping with what our civilized studies tell us about people forced to endure sustained and repetitious trauma-related circumstances.
There is no honor in silence, rather it is an age-old mechanism to keep secret the secrets. Ask any child who has been subjected to abuse and trauma about the culture of silence.
That same culture of silence when applied to an adult population can yield similar results; one of enduring abuse, misuse, exploitation in stoic silence and never letting the outside world see the internal pain or anguish, while the perpetrators continue to carry out their abuse undetected.
I am one voice who will not easily countenance an unwillingness to hear other aspects of a truth kept silent by conformity to a code that no longer serves.
Here are some statistics that I used in a recent article I published:
One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.
Here are some statistics:
--in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children
--55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.
--One million military children are under 11.
--40% are 5 or younger.
--63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.
(Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association)
Thank you for your consideration.
Lietta Ruger, a MFSO Pacific Northwest family
PO Box 335
Bay Center, WA, 98527
A Sufficient Back Door Draft Is Happening To Keep The Troops In And Ensure None Will Get Out.
Reply To: CNN Request To Interview Soldier, Seattle Area, Re; Santiago Decision, Stop Loss, And Contracts
I suggest that the exploitation of those who signed in good faith in honor and integrity has compromised any semblance of an all volunteer military acting on choice; rather I would suggest that a sufficient back door draft is happening to keep the troops in and ensure none will get out.
Contracts are not concrete contracts at all, rather are the noose that catches up the young and that noose is tightened after they have signed on the dotted line.

Original Message
07 Apr 2005 Lietta  Ruger
Dear Kimberly,
My name is Lietta Ruger.
I phoned you regarding the email below; your request to interview a soldier in Seattle area impacted by the Santiago v. Rumsfeld decision, Stop Loss and contracts. You spoke with me briefly and asked me to send you an email with the information and details.
I indicated that I would be willing as a military family to talk about the effect on the two loved ones in our family who are under orders for a 2nd deployment to Iraq + Stop Loss orders.
I can speak about what I know to be their experience, but it is not theirs alone as it affects approximately 10,000 of the 1st Armored.
They are all under orders for deployment to Iraq + Stop Lossed.
For many it will be a second deployment, for some it will be their first deployment.
They will deploy to Iraq in a few short months, having received orders for deployment and having been told they are Stop Lossed. The 1st Armored already served in Iraq in March 2003 - June 2004. They were extended in April of 2004 last year so most served, as did my own two, an extended 15 month tour in Iraq.
Both my 2 loved ones are also in a situation of having to make a decision to re-enlist this month.
Since they are already under orders to redeploy to Iraq as well as Stop Loss orders should they decide not to re-enlist, they will wind up in Iraq anyway to serve out the conclusion of this enlistment and being Stop Lossed, will serve beyond their enlistment.
If they choose to re-enlist, they will wind up in Iraq anyway under the orders they have already + the Stop Loss orders, however, they will then get the re-enlist bonus. Either way they will redeploy for 2nd deployment to Iraq. Should they re-enlist, they will then also be committed for another 6 years and more repeat deployments to Iraq.
This is NOT a choice situation, or if it is a choice at all, it's a choice to be redeployed to Iraq having accepted the re-enlist bonus since the other choice is to be redeployed to Iraq without the bonus.....either way they are Stop Lossed already. At the point that they do decide and should they decide to re-enlist, the military can then claim they are still 'volunteer' military since they signed the re-enlist 'contract' which requires 6 additional years. This is not voluntary as much as it is entrapment.
I suggest that the military is using creative means and strategies in retention (and recruitment) to meet the needs placed upon the military by this Administration and those strategies are coercive and deceptive in the use of Stop Loss to meet the needs of the mission in Iraq.
I suggest that the 'voluntary' aspect for those already in the military ceased being voluntary at least a year ago as the military continues to employ the use of Stop Loss; extended tours; repeat tours; activating the National Guard, Reserves and IRR.
I suggest that while there may be 'legal' means for the military to pull out all the stops and employ every hidden rule that ever existed in the use of the troops in combat, it goes to a matter of trust and honor in the use of our troops.
I suggest that the exploitation of those who signed in good faith in honor and integrity has compromised any semblance of an all volunteer military acting on choice; rather I would suggest that a sufficient back door draft is happening to keep the troops in and ensure none will get out.
As this is not part of public dialogue these days, I suggest that what goes on is 'under the radar' of public knowledge or perception.
And I further suggest (or hope) that if the public had a clear sense of how our troops are being dishonored and mis-used in these deceptive practices the idea of 'support the troops' would take on a quite different meaning.
Yesterday, as I listened to our local TV news channels report on the Santiago v. Rumsfeld decision, I heard them say that there are 1,400 troops Stop Lossed now.
I suggest that the 10,000 of 1st Armored who have already received orders for redeployment are Stop Lossed; that a more accurate reporting would be 11,400 troops are Stop Lossed. There may be more but I am not privy to information except as it affects my own.
With recruiting numbers down for the third consecutive month, it is becoming apparent that the young are not as willing to sign up given that deployment to Iraq is an inevitability and that contracts are not concrete contracts at all, rather are the noose that catches up the young and that noose is tightened after they have signed on the dotted line.
This is not honorable to our troops, nor honorable for the citizens of our country. There is no way that with the aggressive recruitment campaigns that promise much without providing factual information about the nature of the contract any young person can have a full scope sense of what the enlistment contract entails until AFTER they have agreed to sign.
I am myself a military brat, raised in military life in peace time years of the 1950's and 1960's. I was a young bride to a young husband who was drafted and sent to Vietnam.
Now I am mother-in-law and aunt to two young Iraq veterans facing orders for second deployments to Iraq under Stop Loss orders.
I am not a stranger to the military culture and traditions and I well know how to support the troops. What is happening now in our country with regard to the use of the troops is not supporting the troops in any honorable way that I am familiar with over the course of my years and exposure.
Our troops are honorable, and will do their mission, follow their orders and do so in the fashion of military discipline.
I see a neglect on the part of our Administration, our Legislators, our military, our citizenry and civilians in 'watching their back' while they attempt to continue the impossible.
It is outrageously unreasonable to expect troops to perform at optimum when they are obviously experiencing a shortage of troops and are sent into combat in extended and repeat deployments.
When they are not deployed, they are in perpetual 'training' for the next deployment which requires long hours and taskings to the point of exhaustion.
This hardly builds up stamina for the time of deployment; rather it sends exhausted troops into exhaustive combat. The matter of what the contract actually says and what it does not say is relevant because once these men and women are 'in', they cannot get out.
I would be willing to speak on these things on behalf of my own 2 loved ones and their comrades.


Lietta Ruger,
Proud mother and aunt to 2 Iraq veterans; proud wife to Vietnam-era veteran (two times); proud military brat, a MFSO Pacific Northwest family
PO Box 335
Bay Center, WA, 98527

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"Do you not sense within that we need citizens of our country to ask
the challenging questions and expect reasonable explanations as to why
it is necessary to send troops into combat?"
-Lietta Ruger-
  Courage is that small voice at the end of the day that says 'I will try again tomorrow'