Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter


Bring Them Home Now!

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.

Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online

Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps

For more information see Appeal for Redress website.

For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.

Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation


(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.

(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website

(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA

See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq

Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Contact us

Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to

MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.

click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.

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into our 3rd year of speaking out
20 Oct, 08 > 26 Oct, 08
7 Jan, 08 > 13 Jan, 08
29 Oct, 07 > 4 Nov, 07
10 Sep, 07 > 16 Sep, 07
16 Jul, 07 > 22 Jul, 07
9 Jul, 07 > 15 Jul, 07
4 Jun, 07 > 10 Jun, 07
28 May, 07 > 3 Jun, 07
14 May, 07 > 20 May, 07
7 May, 07 > 13 May, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
23 Apr, 07 > 29 Apr, 07
16 Apr, 07 > 22 Apr, 07
9 Apr, 07 > 15 Apr, 07
2 Apr, 07 > 8 Apr, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
19 Mar, 07 > 25 Mar, 07
12 Mar, 07 > 18 Mar, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
19 Feb, 07 > 25 Feb, 07
12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
5 Feb, 07 > 11 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
22 Jan, 07 > 28 Jan, 07
15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
25 Dec, 06 > 31 Dec, 06
20 Nov, 06 > 26 Nov, 06
13 Nov, 06 > 19 Nov, 06
6 Nov, 06 > 12 Nov, 06
23 Oct, 06 > 29 Oct, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
25 Sep, 06 > 1 Oct, 06
4 Sep, 06 > 10 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
14 Aug, 06 > 20 Aug, 06
31 Jul, 06 > 6 Aug, 06
24 Jul, 06 > 30 Jul, 06
17 Jul, 06 > 23 Jul, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
3 Jul, 06 > 9 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
19 Jun, 06 > 25 Jun, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
29 May, 06 > 4 Jun, 06
22 May, 06 > 28 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
24 Apr, 06 > 30 Apr, 06
3 Apr, 06 > 9 Apr, 06
27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
27 Feb, 06 > 5 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
14 Nov, 05 > 20 Nov, 05
24 Oct, 05 > 30 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05
25 Jul, 05 > 31 Jul, 05
11 Jul, 05 > 17 Jul, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
30 May, 05 > 5 Jun, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
7 Mar, 05 > 13 Mar, 05
28 Feb, 05 > 6 Mar, 05
24 Jan, 05 > 30 Jan, 05
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
18 Oct, 04 > 24 Oct, 04
11 Oct, 04 > 17 Oct, 04
4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Swift Bloat Chicken Hawks Against Murtha

This is an updated opinion of something I wrote during last year's election.- AR

Who has earned the right to speak about serious stuff with a veterans's wisdom?

I'm an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970's when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn't.

Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Cheney, could have pursued my "other priorities."

Somewhere downstairs I've got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did.

There's a bunch of ribbons there that I didn't toss over any walls in protest but are in a glass jar where sometime I'll go down and look at them.

There's an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers.

There's little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions.

They're all down there to prove I went and did.


When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away.

I wasn't about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda - mad about her movie Barbarella which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. And I was incensed by her Hanoi affair.

I don't remember hearing anything about John Kerry back then and his post-Viet Nam role against the war. I recently watched a Dick Cavett show where Kerry debated another vet and can assure you that at that time I would have voted Kerry into the brig for what he was saying and doing.

Funny how time changes perspectives.

My yuppie kids are outraged that in 1969 I willfully  refused to go to Woodstock.

I agree with them.

What was I thinking?

Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?

I'm embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn't do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a middle-aged repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grandkids.

I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on wisdom.

No, I'm not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and later served 2 more in the reserve.

30 years later, I'm still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.

In 1968 I was so mad at LBJ, I voted for Nixon so I guess that made me a Republican.

In 72 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave RMN another vote.

In 76 I was genuinely offended at Nixon - and Ford for pardoning him - so I voted for Carter.

In 1980 when Reagan asked "Are you better off now...." he got my vote.

In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for RR again.

By 1988 though, I didn't trust Bush the First so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis.

1992 and I'm mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy and voted for Bill with the following little sentence in sotto voce: "Ok you SOB, you'd better not blow it."

By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn't bring myself to vote for Dole.

So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

By 2000 I realized that my veteran's instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in Dubya. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn't get nominated.

I voted for Gore, the veteran.

So let's get real out there! Being so offended at what Kerry said and did in 1971 that you voted for George more out of spite than wisdom is not a prideful attribute.

If you think there is more international wisdom and military craftsmanship from a gang that truly cannot shoot straight, has not shot straight and  literally did not serve - has not been there nor done that - then by all means betray what you think you stand for.

Speak out and reveal your belief that splashing around in shallow water is better than learning to swim and navigate in something deeper where there's much more substance to everything.

Go ahead and pretend that Repuglican political fools - presenting to us a bushwhacking war president who is bluffing - have really convinced you that Bush knows more about the military than Jack Murtha;

That Mr. Bush as a run-and-hide Texas Champaign Guardsman is truly a wiser military-veteran grown-up than Jack Murtha;

Be sure to watch a lot of Fox TV (chicken hawk heaven) and pay attention when William Kristol of PNAC fame makes a guest appearance there and talks like winning games of RISK make him a strategic wunderkind;

who said last year that Ted Koppel shouldn't have said out loud on Nightline the names of our fellow warriors who didn't make it.

And by all means, go to Kristol's pride and joy site  The Project for the New American Century.

There you'll find an ivory-looking tower made of fragile glass full of intellectual hubris. It's a place where political power theories look like they came out of a perusal of Cliff Notes and where - like in RISK - military troops are nothing more than little colored blocks of wood that are casually swept off the board with each roll of the dice.

That's the alternative to using your own common sense.

Jack Murtha is much closer to the reality in which I live and the memory trove from where my own supposed wisdom comes.

I trust Jack.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 14 January 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Courage in many forms.

I have a site-building image I install on my sites  from time to time that says simply, SPEAK UP EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES.

Speaking out and speaking up is the courageous act and duty of citizens.

Here's an example - from a special blogger from a special group of American Citizens:

Thanks to Thomas Barton and GI Special

The writer identifies himself as "Soldier X" and in writing to "SPC Y" (who is questioning his own role as a soldier).

"X" first talks about entry into the military and subsequent assignment from Kosovo to the Middle East. Following that, we read a chronicle of his introspection; the evolution of awareness of his own role as a citizen soldier and - ultimately - the start-up of his own efforts to speak out.


For "X", What started as letters sent to friends and forwarded to venues like Barton's GI Special, eventually led to these GI's' creation of a blog entitled Fight to Survive with - as "X" explained, other between-the-lines meanings in that title.


I joined the Army a month before Sept. 11th to get out of the dead end rut I managed into back in Colorado.

My father was a Vietnam Vet who, after retiring from 20 long years as an engineer, died from cancer that was cause by Agent Orange exposure in Nam. Joining the service is something I vowed never to do. But, I was a high school drop out going into his mid twenties and I started to panic that the doorway of opportunities was snapping shut.

...I was deployed in Kosovo when the war kicked off in Iraq. Actually I was on leave from Kosovo headed home for two weeks of R&R. I was on lay over at Dallas/Ft.Worth airport as Bush's 48 hour threat for Saddam's surrender ran out and Bradleys started crossing the line.

As I watched Baghdad exploding on TV the people all around me were on their feet cheering like the Cowboys just won the super bowl.

I sunk in my chair. I wished I could rip my BDUs off. I felt sick.

I had a gut feeling things were a bit foul. And, as the war continued on during those two weeks, I gathered a good deal of literature on the subject of war and peace and the middle-east. I filled a duffel bag full of books and when I returned to Kosovo I began to educate myself on American policy and why other countries might hate us.

I started to see America from the outside in. Have you ever seen a home movie of yourself and realized how ridiculous you acted, looked or sounded? That was my new perception of America. I was embarrassed and humbled. But, I also realized that I was what I was. I had a responsibility to change what I could.

...The writings helped in many ways.

First it was a coping mechanism to deal with the rage and emotions I felt about the war. It just felt good to rant.

Second it provided me a way that I felt my taking part in the war could be justified.

Like, if I was a witness for many people in the real world than there was one good reason to be there.

Third it gave me a connection to the outside world and that was what may have kept me sane in the end.

Few of us are in a position to know precisely what would happen could a survey be taken among the troops with an expectation of honest and open responses as to true feelings about Iraq.

A significant portion of our military citizens are - almost by definition - what I would call in a respectful way "institutional patriots" whose duty is in many ways a formalized and constant version of what the rest of us would do only if enemy boots hit the ground in the United States.  

You can hear, in their proud recitations of the good things being done in Iraq and individual relationships between Iraquis and themselves, the pride of ownership of their own American citizenship.

Yet citizen opinion within the enlisted ranks remains highly varied. Although the risk of suppression, ostracism, alienation or out and out retribution is there for speaking out against the President and/or the government, there are those soldiers whose courage not only helps drive their Humvee's but their voices as well.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

I'm an Honest Critic Mr President!

Well so the Commander-in-Chief has made a public statement on how to conduct the debate on Iraq war.  excerpt quote...

"Americans know the difference "between honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."

  Me, I'm a military family with 2 Iraq veterans who served an extended tour in Iraq. I was also raised a military brat.  I was young wife to a young husband, drafted and sent to Vietnam while I was pregnant with our first child.  I think I qualify as  an 'honest critic'.

 I've been pushing the public debate on Iraq war for almost 3 yrs.  Well it's definitely in the 'public' again (Cindy Sheehan movement put it back in the public dialogue).  That made for some amazing progress since the past 12 months there seemed to be little to no serious public dialogue on Iraq war.  Now that the distinquished Congressman Jack Murtha with his 30 yrs in Congress and his decorated military career as a Marine has weighed in, the public debate has moved into Congress.

 Looks like the heat is on and the President is hard at work trying to 'frame' what that is going to look like and who will be labelled an 'honest critic'.  Well I don't think it gets any more honest than Murtha...the man speaks my language.

 So for our elected officials, including our Washington Senators and Representatives, maybe now you can step up to the plate and become 'honest critics' of the Iraq war...speak Murtha's language or speak the  President's language as he once again uses the troops as a sheild to his own cowardice. 

Published by Lietta Ruger in Washblog 



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
 Perceived as diminishing the value of a soldier's life

If parents with children in Iraq support the war more than the general population it's because they have skin in the game, as do we. We are not yet qualified to be members of Cindy's Gold Star Families, nor do we ever want to qualify. It takes the loss of a family member to qualify.

I think that when a parent loses a child to war or a spouse loses a mate, or someone loses a sibling the immediate and often most enduring reaction in addition to the shocked grieving is an anger that will express itself either at the reason for the loss or any suggestion that the loss was not justified.

Long before Mrs. Sheehan we've seen nationally instances of grieving mothers and fathers driven to confront BushCO at their conventions, speaking engagements and directly to the White House. The typifying example is the mom in Fahrenheit 9/11 who started out so proud of her family's military heritage and ended in horrible agony outside the White House.

The poorest method for how NOT to deal with a relative's grief -with one exception in this year's State of the Union Address - has been repeatedly modeled by the President, his administration and politcal advisors. This both in terms of relatives angry at Bush as well as relatives in support.

However, to be fair, every relative whose soldier pays the ultimate price for our country deserves exactly the same kind of acknowledgment and consolation - something impossible to achieve and something Bushco knows it should have been doing in some form from the start.

We've also seen what happens when that anger is aimed at anything that questions the value of a soldier's death in war. Outspoken grieving realtives seem to subconsiously ache to tell SOMEBODY to shut the f*** up, to give SOMEBODY their comeuppance and to make SOMEBODY account for the loss. In a context of compassion these not only are best left alone and given individual respect, regard and space for their circumstance of agony. They are too locked into an outrage that needs focus in some specific direction.

But the context of death and loss of course is not normal and when those bereaved speak out indict a president his supporters are wont to scream "foul" regardless of the fact that grieving relatives have no political mandate to keep quiet. Nor should they.

Angry relatives have the right of free expression which corresponds with our own. From our point of view we work to avoid the same kind of agony for any other soldier's families, avoid needless loss of life, that - as we see it - does not happen for a just and noble reason.

Which puts us immediately at risk of being perceived as diminishing the value of a soldier's life. It is an issue of semantics and context, academic concepts that are useful but pale in comparison with the emotion and passion of family love, unity and sense of patriotic community with all citizens of the nation.

Yet, getting a verbal handle on the actuality of the war, of death and destruction and of the reasons for it are at the heart of the matter. At this time the flamingng passion of those opposing is on the rise and BushCo seems to have only gasoline to pour on it.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 22 October 2005

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
Dying to Preserve the Lies [blog]


by Lietta Ruger 

I Can’t Bear Another Vigil; 2,000 Killed and Still Counting.. 

There will be vigils across the nation this week commemorating Dept of Defense report of 2,000 US soldiers killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plans are underway amongst peace and activist groups to stage vigils in local communities across the nation when that fatal number is published. Already I’ve received media phone calls about these upcoming events as it seems media also wants to mark the tragic occasion. They phone me as a member family representing Military Families Speak Out. Will I be participating one wants to know; another wants to know if I can refer names of other military family members who are willing to speak in media, specifically, who’s loved one has been killed.

A gruesome time; gruesome media requests. A morbid reason to even have to think about planning or participating in another memoriam vigil. Since August 2005 through September 22, 2005 I have participated in vigil after vigil at the Camp Casey that sprung up in Crawford, Texas and again for nearly 4 weeks on the Bring Them Home Now Tour, central route from Crawford to DC. In DC, I was one among approximately 300,000 to 600,000 who participated in the 3 mile march to the White House.

I was in the contingent representing Military Families Speak Out, which was one of four contingents comprising a collective military community voice calling to bring our troops home. With the young Iraq Veterans Against The War; the seasoned veterans of Veterans for Peace, and the families who have had loved one killed, Gold Star Families for Peace, we stood together in front of the White House in commonality and purpose. Never mind whatever else was reported about that rally and march; our four contingents knew why we were there and what our collective represented…the experience of being in military or connected to military by the fact of our deployed loved ones. Our voice is a valid voice and cannot be dismissed away as it is representative of our collective authentic experience and truth. It is an essential part of the dialogue. While it is not in itself a singular truth, it is indeed another perspective of the authenticity of truthful experience regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In that light, no matter the perceptions and opinions, our’s is a critical part of the ongoing dialogue.


When I came home, it was a transition from high energy, high profile daily activities, morning to night; in sharing the message with a wider American public to the quiet of the life I share with my family in our quaint little fishing village on the bay. And yet amongst the communities in our state there are new military family voices coming forward to share their truth. Vigils continue amongst our state communities, and last weekend an Arlington Northwest Memorial was staged on our state capitol grounds. Last weekend the number of killed was in the neighborhood of 1977 . Crosses numbering 1970 had been crafted and were erected to honor the fallen. There was no political message whatsoever except the tradition of veterans to honor veterans, living and dead. I could not make myself attend; chiding myself for not attending and knowing my heart could not take another field of so many crosses.


I write this on a Saturday knowing in a matter of a few days, maybe even sooner, there will be memorial vigils in communities across the nation to mark the passing of now 2,000 of our fallen troops. I cannot make myself participate. In one short week, from the 1970 erected crosses to the need now for 2,000 crosses only a week later to mark the immediately coming number of killed.


But I don’t carry the burden of the war on my shoulders alone, and perhaps it is timely that my individual participation is less needed as more and more Americans see the need to take up the burden on their own backs. People who aren’t typically from peace and activist movements step forth to share their personal truths. People who have never before given opinion in public venues now see a need to lend their voice and actions. People talk now of being less content to be about the busy-ness of daily life are trying to make adjustments to free up time to give in lending voice and action. People talk of being weary of trying to be in denial about what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.


Isn’t that the desired outcome in calling attention to our troops and their families who carry the burden of the wars every day without relent? To call out to Americans to lend their own voices and actions to relieving the troops and their families from carrying the weight of the war ensnarled now in an undefined mission with no clarity of purpose or outcome? I excuse my temporary lapse into my own human-ness as I forgive myself for being unable or unwilling to participate in yet another vigil and memoriam to commemorate the loss of 2,000 of our troops. As Americans across our country now pick up their own civilian duty and carry it forward to challenge not only the basis of the initiated wars, but to challenge the mission and duration, I take some comfort that my own work in this endeavor has been the contribution of one military family in a collective of voices coming from military families.


As each of you who are reading go about the business of your daily lives, what will you do this week to commemorate the marking of 2,000 loved ones killed in the wars? What will you do different tomorrow than you did today to contribute your own voice and action? As it goes without saying that this number doesn’t begin to measure the rest of the human cost of war. It doesn’t take into account the number wounded, without limbs, disfigured, paralyzed, mentally destroyed, nor the unreported carnages to the people who try to live their lives in Iraq. They too are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, who carry a burden daily of living life in midst of war.

What is the measure for when enough is enough?

by Lietta Ruger, Oct 22, 2005

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 30 September 2005

Now Playing: Beat Dyson, Anne Leigh, Gail Wilson
Topic: Members Speak Out

MFSO Pac NW responds to Senator Murray

Reference the report 9-22-05: walking the halls of Congress in shorts. on our MFSO (Pac NW participants) Bus Tour page.

Senator Murray,

In regard to your terse and "non-negotiable" response to Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace members who visited you this week to urge you to take a stand on bringing our troops home now, I would like say that what is negotiable is your job.

That you have become this out of touch with your constituants andthe majority of the American people and are parroting the most unworthy and incapable Commander in Chief in this country's history with rhetorical blather about "staying the course" is pathetic.

I know that I do not stand alone when I say that you have lost my respect and my vote.

Bear Dyson,

Senator Murray:

I second Ms Dyson's remarks with emphasis added.

I am extremely disappointed that you have not shown greater leadership and voice the majority opinion from the state you are supposed to represent.

In previous elections, I volunteered long hard hours to help both you and Senator Cantwell succeed in you election bids.

Senator Murray unless you support our troops by demonstrating leadership to end the senseless combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, you will NOT have my future support.

Obviously Democrats in the State of Washington who overwhelming oppose the Bush Administration's strategy for the war in Iraq, who overwhelming want a complete timeline for troop withdrawal established, and who overwhelming want US troop withdrawal, particularly National Guard withdrawal to begin IMMEDIATELY!

--We need a new representative; One who keeps her word and speaks for her constituents, the citizens of the State of Washington, not for the Bush Administration. -

anne leigh

Dear Senator Murray,

Your statement that your position on the Iraq war is non-negotiable is unconscionable and Highly un-democratic. I hope not only to see you defeated for re-election but to see you brought to prosecution for international crimes in the holocaust which is the Iraq war, along with other perpetrators of this Holocaust.


Gail Wilson

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

Published on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

National Guard Sent to Protect Oil, Not People
by Stacy Bannerman
Hurricane Katrina blew apart President Bush's rickety arguments about how invading Iraq would make us safe.

We don't know Hurricane Katrina's death toll, or how many Americans might have lived had the thousands of National Guard troops trained to help in the wake of hurricanes and floods not been protecting oil in the desert.

But we know 35 percent of Louisiana's and 40 percent of Mississippi's National Guard troops were in Iraq while their towns were leveled. National Guard officers repeatedly had warned officials about the catastrophic impact of having so many Guardsmen deployed in the event of a major natural disaster.

More soldiers and equipment are now stateside. But hundreds of high-water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators the Gulf Coast desperately needs remain overseas. Not only Gulf Coast residents are in jeopardy; the Iraq war endangers the nation.

More than a third of the U.S. soldiers based in Iraq belong to the Reserves or National Guard. Weekend warriors intended to supplement full-time active duty troops now fight for 14 months on average. But most are still treated like part-timers, and prepped and outfitted for combat accordingly. New equipment goes to the Army while Guardsmen and Reservists get hand-me-downs. This bodes badly for part-time soldiers who have become a major fighting force in Iraq.

August was the deadliest month for citizen soldiers. Five Pennsylvania Guardsmen died when the second-class humvee they were in was blown up. They had requested permission to use some of the 12 brand new, fully up-armored vehicles issued to a nearby active duty unit. The request was denied. The trucks stood idle when the Guardsmen died.

A total of 46 National Guard and Reserve soldiers were killed in August, more than half the 83 troop deaths. The disproportionately high -- and rising -- casualty rates of citizen soldiers are part of a trend. Pentagon statistics released at the end of 2004 showed losses sustained by Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq were 35 percent higher than that of regular enlisted. The elevated mortality rate of citizen soldiers is unparalleled. Of the 58,209 U.S. deaths in Vietnam, 94 were Guardsmen, and none were killed in the Persian Gulf War, USA Today has reported.

Long, hazardous duty is one reason why Army National Guard and Army Reserve recruitment numbers are off by 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively. In the first half of 2005, the Seattle Army Reserve office missed its target of about 100 recruits by 75 percent. Oregon recruitment is down 40 percent. Several battalions have lost more than half their members. One Reserve unit saw 70 percent of its members leave within a few months of coming home.

Half the soldiers leaving active duty service have traditionally joined the Guard, but since that likely means a quick trip back to Iraq, the number has dropped to about 35 percent. With so many first responders in Iraq, we have fewer first responders -- fire, police and emergency medical technicians -- in our communities.

While the Guard and Reserve are particularly hard hit, our entire country is suffering from the Iraq war. Rep. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y., recently noted that more than 16,000 U.S. troops have been killed or wounded in Iraq, and that the government has spent more than $200 billion on the war so far, saying, "The war has been a tremendous failure by both measures." He was announcing his support for legislation to require that U.S. troops begin their withdrawal from Iraq by October 2006.

It's time we add Homeland Security to the growing list of casualties of the war in Iraq.

Stacy Bannerman is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus ( Her book, "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Citizen Soldiers and the Families Left Behind," will be released by Continuum Publishing in 2006. Her husband deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade in March 2004 and returned home earlier this year.

                     © 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 19 August 2005

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

"Your son volunteered. He knew what he was getting into ..."

So did I ... in 1968 five months after the Tet offensive.  I dropped out of college and enlisted.

And like the current volunteers who are described by worn-out conservative flag-wearers, I had a rough idea of what I was getting into. That "rough idea" was based on trust ... trust in a system and, ultimately, trust in a specific leader and a specific governing political party.

The specific leader of course was LBJ, the specific party was the Democratic Party and the specific system was and is the system that allows us to hang our political opinions on buttons and sanctimonious drapery of stars and stripes from which we belch our prejudices.

When you sign up you endorse a contract on the bottom line. It's a contract with specified written obligations on the part of both parties, but also with unspecified but powerful assumptions on the part of both parties. In the case of joining the military knowing what you are getting into is based on very powerful unwritten but nationally accepted assumptions:

(1) The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC's skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

As a volunteer you are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities - with a strong expectation that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver's seat.

(2)As a volunteer you are at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust 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;

That leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.

(3) Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect - with your own power and will - the country, its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn't volunteering to keep a political party in power.

The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship with the troops and the CIC.

The troops are expected to trust the CIC's wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep the CIC honest.

The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of the Citizens.

The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of leadership is absent.

That is what is going on right now. The President has demonstrated a lack of leadership at a time when leadership is needed. The killing continues daily .... and we are witness to a repeat of a leader who is like a deer caught in the headlights ... sitting there ... doing nothing ... pondering what ... while pretending to enjoy "My Pet Goat."

Arthur Ruger

Military Families Speak Out Pacific Northwest

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 2:54 PM PDT
Sunday, 14 August 2005

Now Playing:
Topic: Online Activism


Local blogger joins vigil in Crawford TX

by Goldy, 08/14/2005, 10:35 AM

[NWPT61]WA blogger Lietta Ruger of Dying Warriors has joined Cindy Sheehan in her vigil outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, TX.

In our family, we have 2 young Iraq veterans, having served already extended 15 months in Iraq are facing 2nd Deployments now, in few short months. This is no longer an all volunteer military; it has become perpetural entrapment for many of the troops. Years more of war in Iraq and Middle East with multiple rotated tours in combat; when will we bring home our troops?

Lietta has posted several firsthand accounts, and deserves all of our support for her personal efforts to get this issue into the local MSM. This is grassroots politics at its most effective.

Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq, has also posted another account of her vigil to her diary on Daily Kos, and at times, it is downright moving. She closes:

We had a rally downtown in Crawford. Then the people caravanned up to Camp Casey. I was told to come down to the point of the triangle to greet them. While I was walking down to the point, I had a great view of Prairie Chapel Road. There was car, after car, after car!!! I started sobbing and I felt like collapsing. The cars kept on coming. It took almost a full hour for them to all get to Camp Casey, it was a miraculous sight to see. It was identical to Field of Dreams. People came from all over the country to be here. We are building a movement and they are coming.

We don’t have a full count of all the people who were there, but I would say hundreds. It was amazing and awesome. I felt the spirits of all of our needlessly killed loved ones in the presence of Camp Casey. I felt their strength and the wisdom of the ages with me in that wonderful place.

Today was George Bush’s accountability moment, and he lost. Two young ladies from San Diego drove all night to get to the rally and they had to leave tonight to get back home. One of them said: “Wow, we can drive all the way from San Diego just to meet you and he can’t even come down to the end of his driveway to meet with you.”

George Bush: you work for me. I pay your salary. Come out and talk to me. Anyway, I have a feeling you are about to be fired!!!

Meanwhile, six more U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 13 August 2005

Now Playing: Cindy Sheehan, Lietta & Arthur Ruger
Topic: Media Involvement

August 13th, 2005 11:20 pm
Northwest Woman Joins Protest Outside President Bush's Ranch 

By George Howell / Komo News

SEATTLE - A California woman, whose son died in the war in Iraq, has inspired a peace movement that's brought dozens of people to her side in Crawford, Texas -- including some who made the trek all the way from the northwest.

Arthur and Lietta Ruger were both following Cindy Sheehan, before she started gaining momentum.

Arthur said, of his wife Lietta, "she was beside herself when it started. She was just in many, many, ways dying to be down there."

The Rugers were both desperate to be part of the now nationally publicized protest, because they have a unique perspective to offer the peace movement.

Arthur and Lietta pride themselves on their very close ties to the military. The two have a son-in-law presently serving overseas. Arthur is a Vietnam era veteran, and Lietta grew up in a military family. They now represent a group called Military Families Speaking Out, protesting the war in Iraq.

Arthur said his wife recently approached him about a personal invitation she received in the mail, to be part of the protests in Crawford. "She sent me a letter saying, they'd actually asked me if I'd like to go," Arthur explained. "I said back to her 'I'll have to figure out our finances, and you go.'"

So, Lietta Ruger went, and Arthur stayed here at home. The two have been in constant communication with one another. Lietta has been sending pictures back from the protests, and updates for people who want to know more about Cindy Sheehan and her fight.

"Cindy is like the focus," Arthur explained, "but they have this sense of mutual advocacy, they're all talking about the same thing. We're talking about why are our sons and our daughters dying."

Protestors plan to keep camping out, until Sheehan a face-to-face answer from President Bush. So far, that has not happened. The Rugers still believe Sheehan protests have been successful, because she's given a voice to military families who see this as a senseless war.

"In some ways, you could say she's lit a candle or a fuse on a lot of unvented rage across the country, against the kind of thing that's going on." Arthur Ruger said.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech