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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Thursday, 22 June 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

OPINION - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday, June 22, 2006

No surprise in Bush's 'emergencies'

Stacy Bannerman, Guest Columnist

President Bush has yet another supposed "emergency" on his hands. This time it's illegal immigration. His response is to deploy thousands of National Guard troops along the Mexican border. The tactic is eerily familiar: send soldiers on a murky mission under the pretense of promoting homeland security and the war on terror.

In the "initial guidance" Pentagon memo that The Associated Press recently acquired, Bush provided no clear estimates of operational strategies, costs or timelines. That's just how he made the Iraq war a military, monetary and moral failure.

More than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have died. In the first three months of this year, more than 3,800 innocent civilians were killed in Baghdad alone. That's the real emergency. But Bush is deaf to the screaming sirens.

Sad to say, neither of the two major disasters that the Bush administration (eventually) categorized as emergencies was unforeseen.

Pre-9/11 intelligence reports specifically warned about the possibility of a major, imminent, terrorist attack in the United States. Various FBI personnel and flight school instructors repeatedly raised concerns about potential or suspected terrorists getting aviation training but skipping sessions about how to land a plane. Mossad officials traveled to Washington from Israel to warn government agencies that a cell of terrorists was setting up a major operation.

Two weeks before the attacks, a CIA cable received over a classified government computer network warned that two "bin Laden-related individuals" had come into the United States and that two other suspected terrorists should be banned from entering, according to the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring those warnings contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans.

The administration's failure to heed the National Weather Service's predictions about the severity of Hurricane Katrina, coupled with a yearslong pattern of sabotaging FEMA and gutting the Guard for the Iraq war, contributed to the deaths of at least 2,140 people along the Gulf Coast. Far fewer would have died had the Bush administration not delayed declaring a state of emergency.

The Bushies, however, are rushing to frame the immigration issue as Code Red and militarize the border with Mexico (but not with Canada). People have fled their homelands to come to this country in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children for centuries. Suddenly, it's a "national emergency"? Please. With Bush's low approval rating and the Republicans deeply divided, perhaps he's just worried about an electoral emergency.

The real crisis is the result of more than three years of a war based on false information that Bush persists in repeating. While discussing immigration reform at an Orange County Business Council event at the Hyatt Regency Irvine on April 24, Bush stated, "Iraq has -- had weapons of mass destruction." He went on to say, "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on ... things I think are true." This suggests some of his decisions are based on lies.

The real emergency is that this administration and Congress have cut funds for education and social services while pouring $320 billion into the Iraq war.

The true menace before us is that a nation that once was a beacon welcoming millions would douse the light and bar the door.

Stacy Bannerman of Kent contributes to Foreign Policy In Focus ( and is on the advisory board of Military Families Speak Out; She wrote "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind." Her husband served in Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 21 June 2006

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

Resist and Advance vs Surrender and Retreat

[ed note - posted also to DK] It's become beyond wearisome to observe the political soap opera drama play out day after day in an illusion of reality with consequences to politicians meaning only their own political careers.  While a harsher reality extracts the lives of human beings each and every day in a misbegotten 'wartime' reality, politicians fancy themselves playing cleverly at a game of win/lose.  What would be a win/win strategy, I wonder daily, that would 'turn the corner' to the ongoing aggression of win/lose?

A debate in Senate goes on today and I see an AP report this morning in which the blatant use of emotionally charged words are being tossed about to fuel the fires of perpetuating the win/lose political strategies.  Words like surrendering and retreat and that fear-inspiring cut and run.  If politicians are going to use the emotionally charged words of the military, then I have a few military-based words of my own to contribute.


Iraq war resolution on Senate's plate today


WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist declared Tuesday that "surrendering is not a solution" in Iraq as Democrats embraced a proposal to start troop withdrawals this year, setting up an election-year showdown in the GOP-controlled Senate.

"We cannot retreat. We cannot surrender. We cannot go wobbly. The price is far too high," said Frist, R-Tenn., suggesting that Democrats want to do just that.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, disputed the GOP characterization of the Democrats' position and said: "We have to serve notice on the Iraqis that their future has to be in their own hands."

Surrendering?  I read this and say aloud 'surrendering to whom?' - what is he talking about.  Retreat?  Retreat to where, I wonder and the disgust billows up from some deep place inside me.  A damn word game, our politicians are engaged in a damn word game while real time paints a much different reality.  Politicians using the emotional buzz words designed to elicit a knee-jerk and gut reaction from people who value themselves as the American ideal of what it is to be an American.

More disgusting is politicians who use military terminology buzz words while having no reality whatsoever in military life or combat.  Surrender!  Pulling our troops out of a civil conflict equates to our troops surrendering!  To whom, to whom are they surrendering?   Retreat!  Pulling our troops out of an established country termed a new democracy equates to our troops in retreat?  Cut and run equates to an act of cowardice to pull our troops out of a country that has it's own government in place and has asked for the removal of our troops?  

These are just words, artfully and carefully designed to resonate with the lowest common denominator among those Americans who are either overly busy trying to live with the demands of our sagging economy or overly-lazy in that 'war time' is not  immediately impacting their daily life.  It seems anyone and everyone has an 'opinion' and are eager to weigh in with their opinion adopting the false choice arguments as promulgated by our representative politicians.  It is not as easy as stay or leave as the only choices one can have and it is no longer as easy as a majority party in Congress be it one or the other party trying to hold onto their power base.

So how about some other words, equally emotionally charged with military meanings like Resist and Advance.  Resist the notion of surrender as applicable in this debate.  Advance the truth that our troops have accomplished their ill defined mission in that a new birth of a new, democratic Iraq is in place and exists as a result of military action.  Offer a debate issue that puts the responsibility and accountability back on the politicians and this administration to resolve Iraq authentically and politically.  Resist buying into the propaganda of political word-speak that has the maturity of juvenile playground bullying tactics.  Lock and load and aim squarely at the target - truth - amonst the illusive smokebombs of deception.  

It's time for politics and politicians to grow up and serve the public with the same kind of honor, dignity and ideals we absolutely and unequivocably expect from our military - from our young 19 and 20 something year old service men and women.  On the one side the opinionators are outraged at the atrocities being committed by our men and women in military service as news stories come to light.  Emotionally charged words like murderers, dishonor,  is tossed about freely.  And on the other side, opinionators are equally outraged when our men and women in military service resist as those news stories come to light.  Emotionally charged words like cowards, dishonor is tossed about freely.  

It appears that while IEDs and roadside bombs can break their bones, words can hurt them too.   Isn't it past time to end using our military's ideals, not fully understood or appreciated in the civilian population, as political footballs in word games at the cost of the lives of our troops; at the cost of lives of a people who seemed to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time when the U.S. decided to invade and occupy 'their' country.   Isn't it past time to expect adult, mature, responsible behavior from our politicians if we expect it from our younsters who do the on-ground fighting for the sake of political 'words'?

Well, locally speaking then, I'll be watching our U.S. Senators Cantwell and Murray performance and votes in this important 'debate' and resolution.  After watching all 10 hours of the House 'debate' and votes on the resolution last week, I'm sure I'll be treated to more of the same with the Senate debate this week. Wouldn't it be refreshing if, in fact, it was not more of the same ...

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 2 June 2006

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

Deal with it; KING 5 interview w/ Haditha Marine in WA

 As more disturbing facts come out surrounding the killings of up to two dozen civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last November, KING 5 talked with a local Marine who was a member of the squad now under investigation.

The incident began November 19 when the Humvee that North Bend, Wash. native Lance Cpl. James Crossan was riding in was blown up by a roadside bomb.

link; video interview at KING 5



   Think issue of Iraq doesn't affect everyday life in our fine state of Washington?  Think selectively ignoring the reality of WAR because it's too hard to grasp the inevitabilities of combatant war is a good way to cope with a reality-based issue?  Wonder why I feel the need to continue to demand leadership from U.S. Senators of Washington state?  And I wonder why more Washingtonian's don't feel as strong a need while the political football game continues to be played as a 'game' in the face of 'war'.

  Did folks really think ignoring that our troops are sent into combat in 2nd and 3rd and 4th deployments wouldn't come home to roost in your hometown?  How about when I asked Sen. Cantwell at  my second opportunity to meet with her, May 6, 2006 about the two Fort Lewis Rangers who were killed in their 6th deployment and she didn't know a thing about it.  And once she realized I was citing a link; Tacoma News Tribune;March 22, 2006; Two Ft Lewis Army Rangers killed in Iraq on 6th deployment  article, she made a stab at ignorance 'how could they be on 6th deployment when the war has only been 3 yrs.  That would mean the war would be in 6th year'  

  My reaction probably didn't help enlighten her much, but my astonishment at her lack of knowledge of military combat deployments in her own state astonished me into an astonished response.  What I said was 'Maria, they're Rangers and combat deployments are combat deployments'.  What was left unsaid by me was that combat deployments whether 3 months at a time or a year at a time are still 'combat deployments' where death happens on all sides. What I failed to respond to in my own astonishment was to point out the very real impact on a human being in a trauma-based killing, carnage and combat situation continues to live on manifesting the natural human reaction response to trauma for years to come, in our own communities here in Washington state.  

  Not a great way to help our U.S. Senator better understand the situation, I agree, but then, you know I would have actually expected the Senator to know more about the circumstances that directly affect some of her constituents in an issue of our country at war.  And I would have actually expected that if she didn't or doesn't know, that she would listen to those of us who might have more direct knowledge since we are so directly impacted by this war.  Yeah, us military families,  who live with this freakin war while others are 'drinking liberally' and finding the stimulating fun in blogging.

   Guess you can tell I'm extremely upset, and it probably reflects in my writing.  I can only guess now at how people and media and blogs will react to Haditha, along with the other incidents that will be unveiled.  But then I lived as a young military wife with a husband returning from Vietnam, so it won't be too hard to guess at some possible reactions.

   You're willing to have the 2 returning Iraq veterans in my family be redeployed to this carnage?  Expand that to mean returning any of the returning Iraq veterans to this horrific, undefined mission as an agreement with the Dem position of 'transition in 2006; when the Iraqi security stands up our troops can stand down'. You're willing to send in fresh new troops? Oh, you did catch the news that additional troops were just sent in, some fresh for the first time, some on repeat deployments.  As in fresh out of high school, a high school perhaps in your community?   How courageous is that and doesn't that make you complicit somehow in failing to do what we expect our U.S. troops to do in having integrity, courage on the battlefield, honor and dignity in the act of killing, maiming and carnage?  

  You do have a job as citizens in this upside down political relationship when our country decides to deploy military into combat.  An old model I learned growing up as a military brat was a triangular model regarding war.   A prepared military intended to PREVENT war.  In war, a Commander-in-Chief with responsibility to the actual Constitution, to the deployed military troops and to the citizens.  Military troops with responsibility to the Constitution and subsequent to that the Commander-in-Chief and subsequent to that the citizens.  Citizens have a responsibility to the military troops by fully expecting and demanding the Commander-in-Chief respect and fulfill the responsibility to the Constitution and to the military troops he has put into combat on a war footing. Congress factors into this equation with both responsibilities and accountabilities of the same.

   When that model is broken as it is in this circumstance with war in Iraq (and was with war in Vietnam), then I damn well do expect legislators to fulfill their end of the contract as representative of citizens of this country. And they damn well know they have responsibilities to live up to when they act in concert to send troops into combat. When it becomes apparant that legislators are not acting in good faith, what is left then is the citizens.  And if the citizens are choosing not to act, then what is left?

  Can you dare wonder why I expect more from our U.S. Senators, specifically Sen. Cantwell, and yes, I'm looking now at Sen. Murray who recently provided a lukewarm response on her position on the war; link; The Olympian; May 31, 2006;Iraq dominates talk during Murray visit .

Murray stayed away from taking a firm position on the U.S. future in Iraq, saying she voted against starting the war but has voted to help its veterans. She insisted that the next step for the United States is far from easy to discern in a war she estimated has cost
$450 billion.

She said she personally witnessed Baghdad's devastated infrastructure and has spoken to generals who say infrastructure repairs are needed to bring security to the region. "That is a completely different strategy ... and it's something the American people need to discuss and debate," Murray said. "I think the president should redefine the mission and have a debate on it.'

  Can you dare to wonder why I feel disgust with the political haranguing that argues in favor of doing nothing while folks argue we have to try to put Dems in power positions with no assurances whatsoever they will ACT in leadership on a life and death issue?  Don't upset the Dem applecart cause we would get the other party candidate, so shhhh, keep still and just wait - you'll see.

  What?  What will I see?

   Young readers who didn't live through Vietnam, can't expect you to know that 'history'.  Since it isn't a high priority in school curriculums, can't expect you to know 'of it historically'. Ignorance is not bliss, however, and you don't get a pass because you didn't know better.  Someday it will be your own children asking you the questions about what you did during this critical juncture in history.  You can answer you were too busy making a living, going to college, studies, building a career and family but that you cared.  And you will teach them to do the same should they face another critical juncture in history.  

  Older readers who have the history of Vietnam, (and this Administration does have a history of Vietnam, well enough to know what not to repeat and how to lull citizens to sleep) shame on you for taking our young to a new Vietnam.  Doesn't matter what side of the argument or political party talking points you ascribe to, it was always bigger than politics and your legacy will live on; what did you do during this critical period?  

   What will you do tomorrow different than you did today to bring this horror to an end?

   Keep quiet? Please don't, and if you make the choice to keep still till Nov elections, appreciate that 350 more U.S. troops will die by then (at the statistical rate of 2 a day are dying in the war) along with uncounted numbers of Iraqi citizens.  Let that be on your heads come election day when you celebrate in victory parties the incredible work of getting your candidate elected or re-elected.  And with no promises a Dem in power in Congress will assure any shift or difference for war in Iraq, except the continued cowardice already being shown, the death rates will continue to climb.  

   Depressing?  You bet it is, and feeling hopeless, helpless?  Then DO SOMETHING EMPOWERING and stop being Fearmericans.  

   To those of you who are doing something or believe you are doing something to hasten an end, and get our kids out of this war (extension of that is reduce the killing of kids in Iraq) I thank you and sincerely mean it from the depths of my heart.  To those of you ignoring what is staring you in the face, it's not too late...

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 12 May 2006

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

WA Conservative PAC supports Cantwell Iraq position

In Seattle Times today, Craig Spicer, director, WA Conservative PAC, Lynnwood felt compelled to send
  ltte titled Something good standing up for Sen. Cantwell in that her position on Iraq has his respect in 'not turning her back on our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan'; in her 'support for planting and nurturing a democracy in Iraq while fighting Islamic extremists'


I leave it to you to interpret but it says to me that if her position is interpreted to mean 'support our troops, stay the course', that is exactly what I have been fighting for 3 yrs now; support our troops jingoism like this ...  72% of our troops (per Zogby poll of the troops) want to come home!  

Staying the course until the Nov elections translates to a conservative estimate that 350 more U.S. troops will die in Iraq by then, and untold # of Iraqis.  This estimate based on the current average from April/May 2006 that 2 U.S. servicemen and women die in Iraq each day.  Although, based on the recent deaths in Iraq, I'd guess that average will be increasing.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 11 May 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out


May 11, 2006

Katya Kruglak (703) 304-5075

Stacy Bannerman (253) 859-6465/(253) 217-2153




Mother’s Day Weekend: Military Families and War Veterans Speak Out


kent, washington — Over Mother’s Day Weekend, military families and war veterans from across the United States will be coming to the National Mall in Washington, DC for Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living to send an urgent message to Congress:  Bring our troops home now and take care of them when they get here.

Congress recently passed another Supplemental bill, which included roughly $70 billion for the war in Iraq. Judy Linehan will join Stacy Bannerman at this nation’s Capitol to repeat the message Bannerman gave to a House Appropriations Sub-Committee on March 1, 2006, when she became the only peace activist to testify before a Congressional Committee since the war in Iraq began:   “Congress gave the Bush administration a blank check for a war based on lies. Stop payment. Immediately. Not one more dime, not one more life.”


WHAT:     Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living, featuring families who lost loved ones to the war in Iraq; families of those currently serving and soldiers who may be redeployed; veterans of this and previous wars; Iraqis and others who bear the heaviest burden of the Iraq war.


WHEN:    Thursday to Sunday, May 11 - 14

EYES WIDE OPEN: THE HUMAN COST OF WAR, the American Friends Service Committee’s widely acclaimed memorial exhibition that features a pair of combat boots for every U.S. military casualty. As part of the multi-day event, a dramatic new exhibit featuring boots for soldiers currently in Iraq will be unveiled, whose lives are at risk each day that this war continues.  The exhibit also includes a memorial to recognize the thousands of Iraqi children, women and men who have died in the war.


Saturday, May 13

Silent march around National Mall; speak out to follow. 


WHERE: National Mall, Washington, D.C.


WHO:       Military and Gold Star families, Iraq War veterans and others, including:

Stacy Bannerman, author of When the War Came Home, (Continuum Publishing, March 2006) and wife of Washington National Guard soldier awarded a Bronze Star for his year of service in Iraq.

Judy Linehan, mother of Iraq War Veteran, Olympia, WA, (360) 791-1558

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Now Playing: Jessie Archibald
Topic: Members Speak Out
Tacoma News Tribune
Tacoma, WA - Thursday, May 11, 2006
Iraqis won’t step up until U.S. steps down
Last updated: May 9th, 2006 01:21 AM (PDT)
I am a member of a local organization called Military Families Speak Out. I support our troops and am very proud of our soldiers. I believe that it is wrong to put our troops in harm’s way again and again without a successful plan or strategy in place.
Most of our troops are now on second or third deployments. I recently saw a film clip on CNN of an Iraqi military graduation. When the Iraqi soldiers were told they would not be stationed exactly where they wanted to be, almost half of the graduating soldiers tore off their military shirts and quit on the spot.
I ask why we keep our young people in harm’s way when the Iraqis will not help themselves? It’s time to bring our troops home. We have done all we can to help the Iraqis. It’s time for them to step up and help themselves. That won’t happen until we step down.
Originally published: May 9th, 2006 01:00 AM (PDT)

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 6 April 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger on Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Maria Cantwell; Now can you find the courage? Kerry's new Iraq exit plan

So Sen. John Kerry has made public his plan for an exit strategy from Iraq.  And Sen. John Kerry will be coming to our neighborhood in a show of support for Sen. Cantwell.  Hmmm, maybe now she can find the courage to become representative of her constituents, the people's will to get out of Iraq and listen to 72% of the troops polled who want to come home.

Kerry Joins Cantwell in Seattle
announcement at Daniel Kirkdorffer's blog.

NY Times; John Kerry speech; exit Iraq plan April 5, 2006.  


Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work.  It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.

So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines -- a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.

Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave. 

We'll see, there's time left before the election for Senator Cantwell to emerge publicly as a newly converted opponent to the never-ending war in Iraq.  I won't be impressed if that happens, as it would be a 'safe' move given the shift in political dynamics.  On the other hand, maybe the courage of her convictions is to stay the course and in some backwards way, I guess that is courage - foolhardy courage, but courage nonetheless.

However, if she does have a soul-searching epiphany and finds that she suddenly feels compelled to change her views on Iraq war, well I guess that plays too.  

Right - whatever!  Too late for too many, but I guess that ol saying 'better late than never', huh?   I won't admire her if she changes her view and has some influence on an end to Iraq war but I will be grateful.  If the two returning Iraq veterans in our family (both from Washington and her constituents too, right?) don't have to redeploy to Iraq, it will be an immense relief.  I'd guess that extends to every other military family in our state whether they say so publicly or not.  And of course, an extension of that is that military families across the nation will be relieved.  What can possibly be said about the Iraqi people who have paid a heavy price ... not sure it is 'relief' they will be feeling as the civil war there is underway already.  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 24 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Seattle PI editorial board calls out Cantwell on

Seattle PI editorial board calls out Cantwell on her war position.

  Disclaimer:  my political allegiance lies more in supporting our troops by bringing them home (and taking care of them when they get home).  The efforts of our organization, Military Families Speak Out - WA state chapter are to challenge our elected officials on their position on Iraq war.  Begging off taking a position in favor of 'staying the course' in alignment with the Commander-in-Chief's position does not translate to a plan of action for our troops, their families, our country.  

  In that we expect this 'volunteer military' in their repeated deployments x 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to do their jobs with their very lives; it is not unreasonable to expect Senator Cantwell to do her job with a similar level of integrity.  New paradigm for how this war is being managed requires new paradigm in the political playing field.  Playing it 'safe' while others are dying is not an act of courage.  The vested voice of military families and troops are the real stake-holders in the policies and policy-makers in this war in Iraq/Afghanistan.  

  Apparantly the editorial board of Seattle PI has a definite opinion about Cantwell's war position...see article below the fold. See also Joe Colgan's op-ed in Seattle PI Feb 22, 2006; The Killing Has Got to Stop (brief history; military families met privately with Sen. Cantwell in Dec 2004 to express their concerns and ask her to state clearly her position on war in Iraq.  While I was invited and included, I was not able to travel up to Seattle to attend that meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 1/2 hr prior to one of her fund-raiser events and she did shift the appointment to an earlier time to allow longer than 1/2 hour meeting.  We believed that was indicative of some sincerity on her part to fully hear what those most invested had to say = Joe Colgan, veteran and father of son killed in Iraq 2003; Joshua Farris, returning Iraq veteran; Elizabeth Falzone, cousin killed in Iraq Nov 2004.)

  Joe Colgan, Kent, WA, is a veteran and father of Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit.  I had the privilege of representing several of our Washington military families at presentation in Tacoma rally and march last Sunday. My presentation followed Rep. Jeannie Darnielle D- Tacoma who is also a military family with deployed loved ones. I was proud to give part of my 10 minute presentation to include Joe Colgan along with Joshau Farris (Seattle), a returning Iraq veteran.

see news articles:
Tacoma News Tribune article; Community marches against war

Tacoma Weekly article; Opponents of Iraq war march through Hilltop  

 In recent poll of the troops 72% say 'Bring Us Home'.  Isn't it time to listen to the authentic voices?


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Iraq War: Cantwell's choice


It must have been a bit uncomfortable for Sen. Maria Cantwell to share the same Seattle stage with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, not because he is among the Democratic Party's most telegenic rising young stars but because he is critical of the Bush administration's rush to war, while she supported it.

Cantwell has said she doesn't think her vote for the war was a mistake. A few months ago, she stunned the members of this newspaper's Editorial Board by talking of "our successes in Iraq."

Her Republican challenger, Mike McGavick, is unlikely to campaign against a war that is the cornerstone of a Republican administration.

But Cantwell can hardly campaign against a war her vote sanctioned, even though a large portion of the U.S. electorate and a decidedly larger portion of her own constituents are unhappy with the course of the war and President Bush's handling of it. It's a campaign issue that could bleed votes from the traditional Democratic base.

But Cantwell may be able to benefit both her re-election prospects and the nation's foreign policy. She helped lead us into this war; now it's incumbent on Cantwell to help lead us out of it.

If Cantwell is simply wedded to a stay-the-course strategy in Iraq, she's lost touch with her constituents on the central foreign policy issue.

If, however, she recognizes that we're in a quagmire that will continue to drain U.S. blood and treasure, Cantwell should bring a legitimate voice to the debate on how to best get out of Iraq.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 5 March 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

No Deals for Democrats: Quit Bargaining with the Lives of Our Loved Ones

Published on Sunday, March 5, 2006 by  Stacy Bannerman 

It’s easy to make deals with soldiers’ lives when it’s not your soldier. It’s pretty simple to postpone coming up with an exit strategy when your loved ones are already home.

What’s not so easy is sitting across from a familiar stranger, someone who looks like your loved one, but isn’t, not quite. What’s even harder is dining next to an empty chair, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Taking your meals at the bedside of what’s left of your son lying in intensive care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a whole different degree of difficult.

Diane Benson’s 26-year-old boy was still unconscious when he arrived at Walter Reed after being hit by a roadside bomb in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Latseen Benson, in the 101st Airborne, had his legs blown off, along with part of an arm. If he survives—and it’s still a pretty big if—he will never again sit in his old chair at his mother’s table. Negotiate that, Senator Clinton.

Anne Roesler’s son just returned from his third deployment to Iraq in three years. Before he left in August, he told his mom that, if he made it back this time, it would take years for him to recover. Iraq War veterans are already exhibiting post-combat mental health challenges at unprecedented levels.

Part of the reason for the escalating psychological problems is that while soldiers were typically sent for one tour-of-duty in Vietnam, more and more troops are serving two, three, and sometimes four rotations in Iraq. Another complication is the moral ambiguity of fighting a war without front lines, and where the combatants are, or are dressed as, civilians, some of them women or teens. Iraqi law allows the use of children as soldiers, and at least 1,000 youths are believed to be serving in the Iraq military, a figure that doesn’t account for the adolescents providing assistance to insurgency forces.

There is considerable psychological distress associated with going into a country under the auspices of liberating and helping a people, only to have those people rise up against you, and it lingers long after the war has ended.

This nation’s leaders told our soldiers that the people of Iraq would be overjoyed to see them. Forty-five percent of Iraqis think that the insurgents’ attacks on American troops are justified. Eighty percent of Iraqis want the troops out now, as do a majority of Americans.

When this administration sent my husband to Iraq, they told him he’d be building schools. Instead, he killed schoolchildren. Now, how is he supposed to deal with that? How does the wife deal with being woken up in the middle of the night by her husband, holding an imaginary gun to her head?

The only deals that interest politicians are the ones that will keep them in office. They speak of “phased withdrawals,” a gradual drawing-down of forces, which has been tried before.

It didn’t work in Vietnam. It’s sheer arrogance or stupidity to think it will succeed in Iraq.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said an immediate pullout “would cause more problems for us in America." Does “us” refer to you folks on Capitol Hill? What about the nearly 70 percent of Americans who want the troops out of Iraq? Or do you mean the soldiers who are serving in Iraq, and the families left behind? Because, I assure you, the problem for “us” is not an immediate withdrawal of troops.

The problem, for those of us with loved ones in uniform, is that our soldiers are fighting and dying for a lie.

Bargaining with the lives of our soldiers is not leadership. It is moral cowardice and an egregious failure of office of the highest order. I’ve come to expect that from the Bush administration, but surely the Democrats can do better. With the exception of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), too many Democrats are trying to make deals with the lives of our soldiers. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean recently endorsed a report by former assistant Defense secretary Lawrence Korb. The ‘strategic redeployment’ concept sets out a plan for a phased troop withdrawal over an 18 month period.

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) recently stated that he thinks: “In 2006, American troops will begin to leave Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops."

But Biden, Dean, and far too many other Democrats are remarkably silent about the 80,000 or more troops that would remain in Iraq. And they’re mute when it comes to the 800-plus soldiers who will most likely get killed between now and then, bringing the U.S. body count to around 3,000. That’s playing Russian roulette with our loved ones. If the Democratic leaders don’t play that game with their families, they’ve got no right to play it with ours.

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 Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind,” will be released by Continuum Publishing in March 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 PST
Sunday, 12 February 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
"I couldn't care less": overpass bannering, ownership and America's Restaurant 
On Kevin Benderman
Click here for Kevin and Monica Benderman's website
Kevin Benderman Timeline
Yesterday, at the "banner bridge" overpass on I-5 near Dupont, activists rallied in support of imprisoned soldier, Kevin Benderman who, according to The Olympian:


... was deployed to Iraq from March to September 2003. He filed for conscientious objector status in late 2004; his application was denied.

Conscientious objectors are morally opposed to war.

Benderman was to leave for Iraq again in January 2005, but he refused. He was charged with desertion and intentionally missing movement for not boarding the plane for Iraq when his unit left. He was found guilty of the second, lesser charge and sentenced last summer to 15 months in prison. He is serving that sentence at Fort Lewis.

The activists did not have banner bridge to themselves. Apparently there are others who believe that since they have utilized the overpass with frequency they own that particular overpass and it should not be "desecrated".


At least three people did not share those sentiments and came to the overpass to hold a counter-rally.

"It's a disgrace," Shelley Weber of Olympia said as she waved a large American flag. "I rally here every Saturday and, upon arrival, I see these people on the bridge. I decorated this bridge. I bought the yellow ribbons and flowers."

"This is the weekend our troops come in for drill. Their protest demoralizes our troops," added Terry Harder, whose 23- and 26-year-old sons are in the military. Harder is a member of Operation Support Our Troops.


Who defines patriotism?

Who owns it - or think they do?

Is authority to define and ownership of patriotism based on the psychology of fear, blind trust and the supposed code of shut-up-and-obey-the-commander-in-chief?

... or perhaps just plain civic laziness and deferral to TV clickers, sports, American idols, celebrity dancers and those lost in Lost, Survivor and Greys Anatomny?

That old 1960's Democratic Foreign Policy expert, J. William Fulbright, would disagree with Weber and Harder.


"In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one's country is to do it a service ... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism, I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation ... My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance of power."

Yeah, but he was a Democrat in the Kerry generation of the 1960's. Fulbright would have very little credibility after Flush Limbaugh, Nose Pin O'Reilly, Squawk Hannity and Angregious Coulter got through with him. Right?

Well then, how about that old "dove", Teddy Roosevelt, whose doviness - in the best tradition of flag-waving, incident-creating and all around Dubya-like global big-stick swaggering - soiled his doviness when he personally  marched off to war?


"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

What would Mr. "Shut-up!" O-Reilly and all those who use "liberal" or "progressive" or "democrat" as mere name-calling tools say to that?

Or "Mr. Republican", Robert Taft of Ohio, and  the WW II era, just 12 days AFTER Pearl Harbor? All by himself Taft rebuts and repudiates Republican pretend patriotism in one short declaration:


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.

About Taft's words, Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect Online wrote:

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.

That's a wonderful cue for lazy patriots: folks who stubbornly accept BushCo lies and constant fear-mongering. These are folks willing to trade civil liberties and a fissuring of the foundation of the Constitution for the appearance of "safety".


Political proponents who have never adequately proven the truthfulness of over 95% of what they've solemnly declared have yet to  prove the evidential basis of war-mongering, fear-mongering and curtailing of constitutional rights.

This circumstance is right out of the political manipulation guru's playbook - and not intended for public consumption.

One of the principal claimants to ownership of banner bridge was asked by an activist if she knows who Kevin Benderman is.


"I couldn't care less," Weber said, while another man added, "Kevin's where he belongs."

These then are the more irresponsible lazy citizen caretakers of American freedoms.

These then are those who blindly believe and trust that if they go to America's Restaurant and get a meal they can't eat, the fault does not lie with the chef who has never successfully boiled water.

Rather, it's the fault of other diners who know a  poor chef when they see one but are supposed to shut up about the cooking and let the chef poison them with a menu and fare unfit even for livestock.

These are those who believe that if the chef wears a plastic flag on his shirt, he has more than sufficient cooking skill to out-chef all those who question him.

Here's the real problem - the one that the Bush folks, Republican leadership and national Republican elected congressional leaders won't own up to:

Their way has failed. The choices and actions of those running the kitchen have not and are not working out. The food has only gotten worse.

There is in fact a better way but too many are unwilling to look for and take action on establishing a better way.

Others in the dining room and on the streets can do it better, more effectively and with a greater eye to everything that has worked before and finding better ways to make things work now.

The current cooking committee waited years to be in charge. They have blown it badly and in fact have made of America's Restaurant not only a place  that harms the locals but also a place with whom residents in other global communities will not do business (unless they're extorted into doing so).

The current cooking committee has a need for Americans to stay dumb, to go out on banner bridge and tell those banner-waving thinking Americans to shut the hell up.

If dumbed down Americans don't continue following Republican promptings, our fare at America's Restaurant might become geniune nourishment rather than fast-food jingo-ized poorly prepared salmonella.

As for those who "own" banner bridge ...

You ought to care more.

If Kevin Benderman is "where he belongs" it's because his being there is part of an effort to clean up the Constitutional Menu at America's Restaurant. It's an effort that might include firing the chef in order to stop the poisoning that *hurts our military troops far more than anyone will admit.

*You might not be aware of one particularly important issue and the poisoning of our troops, but the Washington Legislature is - and they're learning more: Depleted Uranium Bill in Ways and Means Committee

Published by Arthur Ruger on Washblog, and Daily Kos

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Newer | Latest | Older

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