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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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
Friday, 12 August 2005

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger & Camp Casey in Crawford Texas
Topic: Call to Action

NW mom enlists in the Texas peace corps 


Lietta Ruger of Bay Center in southwest Washington admits she didn't know what she was getting into when her feet hit the ground in Crawford, Texas, at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday. 

But soon, by cell phone, she was describing the scene around her. The way daylight sketched the emerging shapes of five tents. The early rising figure of the suddenly famous Cindy Sheehan. And the outlines of the growing numbers of her supporters.

Right away, the Washington woman told me, she knew she was getting into something amazing: a gathering of mothers and others galvanized by Sheehan's quiet but stubborn questioning.

"Why?" Sheehan wants to ask the vacationing President, "did her 24-year-old son Casey really die in Iraq?" And would Mr. Bush please stop using the loss of her son to justify why even more sons and daughters must die?

She's not leaving, she says, until he either answers her or cuts and runs.

Ruger had never met Sheehan until Wednesday when they shared a long, trembling hug on the stubbly public right of way near Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch. But they had exchanged a lot of e-mail, Ruger as a member of Northwest Military Families Speak Out and Sheehan as founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Ruger's son-in-law and nephew already have served 15-month stretches in Iraq and thankfully, so far, stayed alive. But both still face second "stop-loss" deployments.

Just before she caught a Texas-bound red-eye out of SeaTac, her 5-year-old grandchild said, "Grandma's going to talk to the president so my daddy doesn't have to go away again."

But Ruger will leave the talking and most of the waiting to Sheehan. She worries if she stays away too long, her own family members may be gone before she gets back.

For the trip, Ruger packed sunscreen, insect repellent, bandanas to wet against the heat, bottles of water, hats, visors and changes of socks. They're the same things moms across the country have tucked into the packs of their departing soldiers.

If the encampment is not shooed off or arrested as a supposed "national security risk" as they have been warned they will be, a Porta Potty will be delivered soon to the site. Meanwhile, Ruger says, she's willing to dig a hole. "Our troops are doing it," she said.

Through Monday, she will sleep in a tent at "Camp Casey," named for Sheehan's son. She'll do it, she says, to bring Sheehan some moral support. To recognize "the huge outpouring of support she is getting." And to help people hear the voice of military families like hers who want to express their support and care for the troops by keeping them from coming home the way Sheehan's son did.

Ruger has no desire to join Sheehan's Gold Star club. The dues -- the loss of a cherished child -- are simply too high.

But she's there for another reason, too. Ruger knows that Sheehan's integrity is already under attack by those trying to discredit her by saying she has changed her tune. She was still in shock just after Casey's death when Sheehan and other military families met Bush at Fort Lewis. But, even then, Ruger said, Sheehan was against the war.

Rain with a decidedly Seattle feel wet the encampment the morning Ruger arrived. But the gathering thunder isn't weather. It's the power and the anger of moms across the country. And Sheehan is their lightening rod.

So far, Ruger is the only known Washington state woman to report for duty. But Julie Decker of Carlsbad and San Marcos, Calif., respectively, have just arrived. Neither knew Sheehan or had been previously involved in the peace movement.

"People just need to do something hands-on to help," Ruger said. "I think it reflects how powerless they have felt, until now, about this war."

The formerly quiet Crawford Peace House nearby is now such a hive that incoming calls have jammed the phone line. "This was not an orchestrated thing, so people were really unprepared," Ruger said.

Still, she's grateful for the groundswell.

Cell phones warble constantly in camp. Sheehan gets 1,000 supportive e-mails a day.

Military Families Speak Out is organizing car caravans to Crawford leaving early Monday morning.

And, through the peace organization Code Pink, women are staging fasts in places like Red Hook, N.Y., Haysville, N.C., Gilbertsville, Ky., and Wilsonville, Ore.

In Seattle, the already thin Gerri Haynes has vowed to stay on a liquid fast until the president comes out to answer Sheehan's questions. She will be the 2006 chair of the Veterans for Peace national convention.

The organizer of a trip to Iraq by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Haynes has visited that country five times. And she spoke on Wednesday at the rally outside Seattle's Federal Courthouse.

She's thankful that, due to the mobilizing effect of Sheehan, more moms like Ruger have started something that, while still small, is growing into something amazing.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 27 July 2005

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman at
Topic: Members Speak Out
Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 by
Worlds Apart
by Stacy Bannerman

When you’re a Governor, making difficult decisions is part of the job description. Just ask the chief executives of 33 states who attended the 97th annual meeting of the National Governor's Association in Des Moines, Iowa on July 15-16, where they had to choose between boots, bats, or bucks. The 233 pairs of combat boots -- one for each National Guard soldier killed in Iraq – were the focal point of a Memorial service co-sponsored by American Friends Service Committee and Military Families Speak Out to honor the citizen soldiers. Batting practice at Principal Park included a lavish reception for governors and their families, and was followed by an Iowa Cubs baseball game. A couple of heavily barricaded blocks away, Republicans held a fundraising reception at the Des Moines Club. The events took place within a six-block radius, but they were worlds apart.

8-year-old Mary Sapp, of Billerica, Mass., her older sister Lydia, and her mother, Anne, were at Nollen Plaza for the commemorative service. Mary clutched a picture of her dad, Staff Sgt. Andrew Sapp, a National Guardsman deployed to Iraq in October 2004. Mary talked about how much she missed him, and how sad she was that he hadn’t been able to attend her first softball game.

Back at the ballpark, Anibal Acevedo-Vila, Governor-Puerto Rico, stood next to his son, chatting up the players before throwing the opening pitch. After the Cubs rallied to beat the Omaha Royals, the Gov’s and their families were treated to a fireworks display. The next morning, the Governors tackled the conference agenda, focused on health care and Medicaid costs and economic development.

The war in Iraq wasn’t highlighted on the docket because it’s not considered a pressing domestic concern. But with nearly 300,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers deployed to Iraq so far, and 138,457 pairs of boots belonging to citizen soldiers currently on the ground, how can it not be?

Reserve and National Guard troops tend to have significantly higher rates of stress-related disorders than active duty military. A study of Persian Gulf War veterans found that upwards of 90% of Reservists had one or more symptoms of Post-traumatic stress six months after coming home, compared to approximately 20% of fulltime soldiers. (Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program, Department of Defense Report, June 1995)

Reservists returning from Iraq are reporting mental health problems at levels more than twice that of active duty personnel, and a Seattle Times article stated that “out of 76 members of [the Washington National Guard] Bravo company, 14th Engineer Battalion, just under half were referred for counseling.” (July 26, 2005) But Vet Centers are so desperately underfunded that they’ve turned away citizen soldiers seeking medical and dental services, making veterans care a state health care issue by default. Federal labor statistics revealed that the unemployment rate of young male veterans was nearly double that of comparable civilians in the first quarter of 2005, which is obviously relevant to local economies. When a military newspaper cites “ divorce rates as high as fifty to eighty percent in some [Guard & Reserve] units returning from yearlong deployments.” (Fort Lewis Ranger, March, 2005), clearly the war has come home. The unprecedented suicide rate of Iraq War Veterans makes the war a domestic problem, as does the number of women who are murdered by their returning husbands. One such case is Matthew Denni of Oregon’s Army Reserve 671st Engineer Company. Driven, in part, by the trauma he experienced in Iraq, Denni murdered his wife and packed her corpse into an Army regulation footlocker. He was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in a state penitentiary.

Celeste Zappala, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, received a different sort of sentence when her son, Sherwood Baker, was killed in Iraq. His was one of the names she read at the Memorial service. When a mother bears witness to the death of her child, this nations’ foreign policy becomes a domestic matter of the highest order.

Meanwhile, George Pataki (NY), Mike Huckabee (AK), and Mitt Romney (MA) socialized with donors. Their quips about being Republican Governors in predominantly Democratic states got some laughs, which isn’t surprising, because Republican leaders have proven that they can be a very funny group.

After all, President Bush did his own comedy routine at a party fundraiser in 2004. The Commander-in-Chief looked behind curtains and under tables, laughing with the audience, telling them that he was searching for hidden weapons of mass destruction. His joke has cost 233 of our Guard and Reserve troops their lives. But the Governors decided there was no time for mourning in Des Moines.

Stacy Bannerman is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus ( and on the Advisory Board of Military Families Speak Out ( 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 on March 11, 2005.

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