Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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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

2007

(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 www.stacybannerman.com)

(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)

2006


(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'


2005


(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


2004

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.
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mfso@mfso.org




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
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
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@mfso.org.


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

Friday, 6 July 2007
'The Olympian' July 4 editorial titled 'Bring Home U.S. Troops'
Topic: Media Involvement
"A total of 134 service members assigned to Fort Lewis have died in Iraq. A total of 208 service members with ties to Washington state have died in the war."

To: Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter members, supporters and friends

Re: Write or call in with your support for editorial in 'The Olympian' - July 4 - ' Bring Home U.S. troops'. Good time to press your points as military families speaking out;

Perhaps can be construed as 'good news' - the newspaper referenced in the article at Huffington Post is our own 'The Olympian' in Olympia, WA - the town next to Fort Lewis Army base and McChord AFB; the town of our state capitol where legislators make legislation happen. I read this morning in my usual morning local news reads about our military friendly newspaper writing the editorial on July 4th 'Bring Home U.S. Troops' and gave a shout of whoop - amen. Then as I was going about my national morning reads, I see the 'news' makes Huffington Post.

I can tell you candidly, that as I listen to our Seattle based nightly newscasts and the daily reports of another Stryker soldier killed in Iraq or more accurately, another several more Stryker soldiers killed in Iraq, that the newcasters voices and tones are taking on a more somber quality as night after night they have to report on more Stryker soldier deaths. Strykers, you may or may not know are at military base, Fort Lewis, Tacoma, WA. We have had a fair share of vigils and protests over the years and especially this past year on the freeway overpass at the gates of Fort Lewis. You may have heard in the news that Fort Lewis was thinking about having to shift to doing a monthly memorial for all the soldiers killed in Iraq in that month because there were too many to do them weekly. As of yet, that hasn't happened, and Fort Lewis still is doing the respectful individual memorials. Well, now in groups of three and four as week to week many more Stryker soldiers are killed in Iraq.

So, the newspaper 'The Olympian' is certainly not up there on a scale of New York Times, this bit of 'news' is perhaps an indicator of the shifting paradigm here in our state (Washington state with 14 military installations across the state). While it's true this is a more 'blue' or liberal state, it is also true that the two newspapers connected to the military communities in Tacoma and Olympia are 'military friendly' and reluctant to come across in what could be construed as non-supportive of the troops and families. I would hope this particular editorial call for troops pull out of Iraq is a hopeful sign.

Take heart, blessings in the struggle

Lietta Ruger, chapter coordinator

Military Families Speak Out - Washington state

 

headline today at Huffington Post
Paper With Strong Military Readership Calls for Iraq Pullout


By Greg Mitchell

Published: July 05, 2007 1:10 PM ET
NEW YORK Even though U.S. casualties in Iraq continue to mount -- and we have now been there longer than we were involved in World War II -- surprisingly few newspaper editorial pages have come out for any kind of withdrawal (even a very slow one) or timeline for a pullout. Polls show that about 2 in 3 Americans favor the start of a withdrawal, and even Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, a strong conservative, came out for it last week, but newspapers have remained largely silent.

But yesterday, on Indepedence Day, a McClatchy newspaper with a heavy military presence in its circulation area came out for withdrawal. The headline: "Bring Home U.S. Troops." It concludes that this war "isn't worth a single more American life."

The paper is The Olympian in Olympia, Wash. Nearby are Ft. Lewis (which has sent tens of thousands of troops to Iraq) and McCord Air Force Base. Daily circulation is about 32,000. The president and publisher is John Winn Miller. Vickie Kilgore is executive editor.

"The Fourth of July is a time when Americans celebrate the values that have made us a great nation," Miller tells E&P today. "So it seemed like an appropriate time to editorialize on what has become a national disgrace.

"It is a particularly important and local issue for us because we are a military community with Ft. Lewis and McChord Air Force Base in our area. We seen too many of them killed, so many that Ft. Lewis considered stopping individual memorials. Our men and women have done their duty with honor. It is time to honor their sacrifices by ending this ill-conceived mission.

"A total of 134 service members assigned to Fort Lewis have died in Iraq. A total of 208 service members with ties to Washington state have died in the war."

Today, Sen. Pete Domenici became the latest veteran Republican in Congress to break with the White House on Iraq policy.

Here is The Olympian editorial.

http://www.theolympian.com/editorials/story/153009.html
*

'Bring Home U.S. troops'
Hearts are heavy this Fourth of July as the United States continues to wage an unwinnable war in Iraq.

Public support for President Bush and his war has steadily declined as the number of war dead continues to climb.

On a day when Americans are supposed to celebrate the freedom and liberty won by the blood of our forefathers, most Americans instead find themselves disgusted with the trillion dollar war being waged in their name with their tax dollars.

On a day when Americans are supposed to wave the flag with honor and respect, many Americans are disheartened and embarrassed. They are fed up with an arrogant president and an ineffective Congress and their inability to extract this nation from the ill-conceived war that has alienated U.S. allies and unnecessarily sullied the reputation of this great nation.

This year, our day of national pride feels more like a day of national shame.

Fed up

Americans have had it with the war. According to a CNN poll a week before today's holiday, only 30 percent of Americans support the war effort - a new low in public opinion. President Bush's popularity - the percentage of Americans who think he is doing a good job - has eroded to the same 30 percent level.

Sixty-nine percent of those responding to the CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll believe things are going badly in Iraq. Only 17 percent think the situation is improving. And President Bush is losing his base of support - fellow Republicans. The CNN poll found 42 percent of Republicans now believe the United States should be withdrawing troops from Iraq.

The tide is shifting in Congress, too.

Soft-spoken and well-respected Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., shook the capital community last week when he distanced himself from Bush and called the Iraq War strategy a failure. In a lengthy speech on the Senate floor, the mild-mannered Lugar said, "I speak to my fellow senators when I say that the president is not the only American leader who will have to make adjustments to his or her thinking. In my judgment, the costs and risk of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved."

Lugar's courageous - albeit late - condemnation of the war in Iraq sent shock waves through the halls of Congress. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, followed Lugar's lead the next day with a letter to the president that said, in part, "We must begin to develop a comprehensive plan for our country's gradual military disengagement from Iraq and a corresponding increase in responsibility to the Iraqi government and its regional neighbors."

Voinovich told CNN, "I think everybody knows that we fumbled the ball right from the beginning on this."

The two Republican lawmakers are right. We have to begin the withdrawal of troops. It needs to be an orderly exodus in order to protect our troops and to give some hope that the Iraqi army will fill the void over time.

It was a lie to say we invaded Iraq to protect the United States from terrorists just as it is a lie to say leaving will aid the terrorists. Let them wallow alone in the middle of this bitter, multi-front civil and sectarian war. It isn't worth a single more American life.

Cover for Republicans

As the top Republican and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar's criticism should give more Republicans the cover they need to challenge Bush on the war.

It's clear that the president's prescription for victory - the so-called surge - is well in place, yet the increase in troops has not diminished the violence. If anything, Baghdad is a bigger killing field today than it was prior to the troop buildup.

Bush continues to stall for time, saying no rational assessment of the surge's success or failure can be made until September.

How many more Americans will forfeit their lives on the battlefield between now and then? How many more tax dollars will be spent to stall America's inevitable departure?



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 9:54 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 7 February 2009 9:44 AM PST
Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Now Playing: Bob Woodruff
Topic: Media Involvement

Bob Woodruff's 'To Iraq and Back' on ABC

Do you remember Bob Woodruff, an ABC journalist, who while covering the war in Iraq last year (he was literally in Iraq in Jan 2006) was severely injured by IED explosion, along with the other soldiers in the humvee?  If you didn't see the 'must see'airing of Bob Woodruff 'To Iraq and Back' last night, you can still see it online at ABC website.  

Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI - heard of it? Of the over 200,000 (that's right 200 thousand - much more than the figure cited by DOD) injured troops in Iraq, a quarter of those suffer with traumatic brain injury.

That is a quite high percentage but what is more astonishing is that the smaller VA hospital/centers don't have the knowledge, equipment, people power, staff or professionals to deal with it. I don't suppose it would surprise anyone to realize that TBI is another one of those 'issues' being sanitized and swept out of public view.

(Senators Murray and Cantwell - all our Congress Representatives - are you aware and are our VA hospitals in Washington equipped to treat follow up care for TBI soldiers? Wouldn't you want not one more soldier to have to face this kind of a homecoming? )

Thanks to the courage of ABC journalist/reporter, Bob Woodruff, and ABC's willingness to air it, special tv production 'To Iraq and Back' finds a middle ground arena (not slung with partisan politics) to try to educate the public on the plight of many of these injured, returning soldiers. If you didn't get chance to see it last night on tv, you can watch the online video here at ABC website.

Bob Woodruff was injured while reporting in Iraq, and he has made a recovery from his own traumatic brain injury (TBI) many in the medical profession view as remarkable. Which isn't to say he has completely recovered, rather that he has learned to compensate and inspires hope for other soldiers trying to adjust to life with TBI. He has made this tv special, 'To Iraq and Back' which aired on ABC, Tuesday night, Feb 27, 2007.

It chronicles his life starting from the IED explosion he experienced in the humvee in Iraq, the evac and medical journey, and his efforts at recovery. You will see some graphic reality. You will see Bob (and other soldiers) with half his head blown off, in recovery, with what is becoming the traditional 'helmet' TBI survivors wear and you will see glimpses of his efforts to retrain his memory.

As Bob goes back to the medical and hospital staff to thank them, he interviews them along the way and the viewer gets some firsthand information from those who have an up close and personal view of the enormity of injuries sustained by our troops. He then visits some of the soldiers on the humvee with him when the IED exploded.

He visits with other soldiers who have TBI and talks with the soldiers and their families about the resources or lack of resources after being released from the primary hospitals - Walter Reed and Bethesda. As those soldiers return to their homes in communities across the nation, the VA resources are not up to speed in treating them for TBI. (Most of you who know much about VA resources, already know the shortages of hospitals, centers, staff and services) .

Bob talks also with new VA Secretary, Jim Nicholson, or perhaps interviews him, because it looks very much to me like Jim Nicholson, is very uncomfortable with the questions Bob Woodruff puts to him. And they are not challenging or difficult questions, more straightforward kinds of questions, deserving of factual and straightforward answers. Something Jim Nicholson does not provide. His responses seem to me like efforts to minimize the severity and seriousness and strike me as the kind of defensive answers one gives when one knows what one is being asked reveals a truth being cloaked.

Mentioned in the tv show is Wounded Warriors Project - please see their website and help in whatever ways you can.

Excerpt from Wounded Warriors Project on Bob Woodruff's 'To Iraq and Back'

   

On Tuesday, February 27th at 10pm (EST), ABC will air the much anticipated special featuring ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff's injury and rehabilitation after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while covering the war in Iraq.

    This September, the Wounded Warrior Project had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bob in Washington DC at a TBI Caregiver Summit. The goal of the summit was to bring together family caregivers of service members who have incurred serious traumatic brain injuries during the war against terror and facilitate a dialogue between these family caregivers and key policy and legislative decision makers in Washington.

    Part of this summit and a roundtable discussion between Bob and the family caregivers (and some patients themselves) will be included in the piece.

Another excerpt:

   

At a hearing held last June by the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Jonathan Perlin testified that, "Traumatic Brain Injury accounts for almost 25 percent of combat casualties suffered in OIF/OEF by US Forces." With over 20,000 combat injuries to date during the ongoing global war on terror, this means that there are almost 5,000 service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries. While advances in body armor and battlefield medicine save the lives of many soldiers, they do not protect against impacts that cause brain injury.

An excerpt from Discover Magazine, article Dead Men Walking; What sort of future do brain-injured Iraq veterans face.

   

While the Pentagon has yet to release hard numbers on brain-injured troops, citing security issues, brain-injury professionals express concern about the range of numbers reported from other military-related sources like the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). One expert from the VA estimates the number of undiagnosed TBIs at over 7,500. Nearly 2,000 brain-injured soldiers have already received some level of care, but the TBIs--human beings reduced to an abbreviation--keep coming.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Media Involvement

Any Reason to Keep Funding Iraq invasion/occupation?


Arthur Ruger, my veteran husband, taking a position at Veterans for Peace conference, Seattle, WA, Aug 12, 2006.

-- 172nd Stryker Brigade extended in stop loss, sent to Baghdad after a year deployment in Iraq. July 27, 2006 (Read backdoor draft of involuntary service, involuntary military) Many were on their way home, actually arrived home after a year in Iraq, only to be turned back and sent to Baghdad in a stop-loss extension.  This happened in our family also back in April 2004; 1st Armored was to come home in April 2004, after a year in Iraq. They were extended, stop lossed at very last minute and our two, who were with 1st Armored - we had homecoming plans in the works - were kept in Iraq an additional 3 months due to Sadr City uprising.

Bring Home 172nd Stryker Brigade a non-political, non agenda website intended only  to permit families of 172nd Stryker to express their thoughts and feelings.  Why is it valuable?  It reflects some of the military families who hold more traditional military culture views and in exhaustion are beginning to speak out - not by joining an organization, but some of the stories written by the families speak to how fragile the military families are feeling at this point in history.

-- U.S. military calling back troops who've been out of uniform for years Aug 20, 2006 Marines, IRR (Individual Ready Reserves) being called up to deploy to Iraq - as many as 20,000. (whisper; pre-curser to an all out military draft?)

-- Fort Lewis soldier killed Aug 23, 2006 - Stryker Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division,out of Fort Lewis, recently redeployed to Iraq in second deployment, June 2006

--   Article; 7 Facts Making Sense of Our Iraq Disaster   Aug 20, 2006

Any reason not to authentically support our troops by bringing them home Now and stop funding the Iraq invasion/occupation Now - before November elections? Senators, Representatives, Congress, Washingtonians, People?

read more on the flip..

  It doesn't look at all like a troop call down in Iraq; quite the opposite.  So much for transition in 2006, when Iraqis stand up, troops can stand down.  Oh, that's not the Dem position anymore is it?  Now it's something like 'it might have been a mistake'. Courageous people like Ned Lamont change the political playing field in taking an absolute stand - gee, and he wins the election!  There is a message there, not unlike the message I've been trying to put forth here at Washblog for months....

  Article; 7 Facts Making Sense of Our Iraq Disaster   by Michael Schwartz, Aug 20, 2006

1. The Iraqi Government Is Little More Than a Group of "Talking Heads"
  -- A minimally viable central government is built on at least three foundations: the coercive capacity to maintain order, an administrative apparatus that can deliver government services and directives to society, and the resources to manage these functions. The Iraqi government has none of these attributes -- and no prospect of developing them.

2. There Is No Iraqi Army
  -- The "Iraqi Army" is a misnomer. The government's military consists of Iraqi units integrated into the U.S.-commanded occupation army. These units rely on the Americans for intelligence, logistics, and -- lacking almost all heavy weaponry themselves -- artillery, tanks, and any kind of airpower. (The Iraqi "Air Force" typically consists of fewer then 10 planes with no combat capability.) The government has no real control over either personnel or strategy.

3. The Recent Decline in American Casualties Is Not a Result of Less Fighting (and Anyway, It's Probably Ending)
  -- At the beginning of August, the press carried reports of a significant decline in U.S. casualties, punctuated with announcements from American officials that the military situation was improving. The figures (compiled by the Brookings Institute) do show a decline in U.S. military deaths (76 in April, 69 in May, 63 in June, and then only 48 in July). But these were offset by dramatic increases in Iraqi military fatalities, which almost doubled in July as the U.S. sent larger numbers of Iraqi units into battle, and as undermanned American units were redeployed from al-Anbar province, the heartland of the Sunni insurgency, to civil-war-torn Baghdad in preparation for a big push to recapture various out-of-control neighborhoods in the capital.

4. Most Iraqi Cities Have Active and Often Viable Local Governments
  -- Neither the Iraqi government, nor the American-led occupation has a significant presence in most parts of Iraq. This is well-publicized in the three Kurdish provinces, which are ruled by a stable Kurdish government without any outside presence; less so in Shia urban areas where various religio-political groups -- notably the Sadrists, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wa , and Fadhila -- vie for local control, and then organize cities and towns around their own political and religious platforms. While there is often violent friction among these groups -- particularly when the contest for control of an area is undecided -- most cities and towns are largely peaceful as local governments and local populations struggle to provide city services without a viable national economy.

5. Outside Baghdad, Violence Arrives with the Occupation Army
  -- The portrait of chaos across Iraq that our news generally offers us is a genuine half-truth. Certainly, Baghdad has been plunged into massive and worsening disarray as both the war against the Americans and the civil war have come to be concentrated there, and as the terrifying process of ethnic cleansing has hit neighborhood after neighborhood, and is now beginning to seep into the environs of the capital.

However, outside Baghdad (with the exception of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul, where historic friction among Kurd, Sunni, and Turkman has created a different version of sectarian violence), Iraqi cities tend to be reasonably ethnically homogeneous and to have at least quasi-stable governments. The real violence often only arrives when the occupation military makes its periodic sweeps aimed at recapturing cities where it has lost all authority and even presence.

6. There Is a Growing Resistance Movement in the Shia Areas of Iraq
  -- read more at link article

7. There Are Three Distinct Types of Terrorism in Iraq, All Directly or Indirectly Connected to the Occupation
   -- read more at link article

Where the 7 Facts Lead

With this terror triumvirate at the center of Iraqi society, we now enter the horrible era of ethnic cleansing, the logical extension of multidimensional terror.

When the U.S. toppled the Hussein regime, there was little sectarian sentiment outside of Kurdistan, which had longstanding nationalist ambitions. Even today, opinion polls show that more than two-thirds of Sunnis and Shia stand opposed to the idea of any further weakening of the central government and are not in favor of federation, no less dividing Iraq into three separate nations.

Nevertheless, ethnic cleansing by both Shia and Sunni has become the order of the day in many of the neighborhoods of Baghdad, replete with house burnings, physical assaults, torture, and murder, all directed against those who resist leaving their homes. These acts are aimed at creating religiously homogeneous neighborhoods.

This is a terrifying development that derives from the rising tide of terrorism. Sunnis believe that they must expel their Shia neighbors to stop them from giving the Shiite death squads the names of resistance fighters and their supporters. Shia believe that they must expel their Sunni neighbors to stop them from providing information and cover for car-bombing attacks. And, as the situation matures, militants on both sides come to embrace removal -- period. As these actions escalate, feeding on each other, more and more individuals, caught in a vise of fear and bent on revenge, embrace the infernal logic of terrorism: that it is acceptable to punish everyone for the actions of a tiny minority.

There is still some hope for the Iraqis to recover their equilibrium. All the centripetal forces in Iraq derive from the American occupation, and might still be sufficiently reduced by an American departure followed by a viable reconstruction program embraced by the key elements inside of Iraq. But if the occupation continues, there will certainly come a point -- perhaps already passed -- when the collapse of government legitimacy, the destruction wrought by the war, and the horror of terrorist violence become self-sustaining. If that point is reached, all parties will enter a new territory with incalculable consequences.

by Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, and on American business and government dynamics. His work on Iraq has appeared on numerous Internet sites, including Tomdispatch, Asia Times, Mother Jones.com, and ZNet; and in print in Contexts, Against the Current, and Z Magazine. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is Ms42@optonline.net.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Sunday, 26 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Media Involvement

Seattle Times weighs in; their coverage Iraq war

link
 The Seattle Times: Local News: Editors strive to offer "all layers" of Iraq war, March 26, 2006

  Media REACTS to the President's accusations that it is the media's fault for the growing unpopular support for the never-ending war.  Seattle Times weighs in; not many reports of the 'good things' happening in Iraq for them to report on...hmmm, I wonder why those anectodal feel good stories aren't making their way to the Seattle Times?  Perhaps because the rationale of doing good ie, building schools that are likely bombed shortly after or the rebuilding of infrastructure in Iraq that still leaves the people without basic services, much less an operating sovereign goverment is getting harder and harder to hold onto as a sustainable rationale.  I believe it is a distorted rationale that has served as a lifeline to justify why our country is at war in Iraq. And it's a rationale politicians and media use as political footballs to secure their own positioning in the 'safety zone' of homeland while consigning our young to a war waged by this very homeland.


   I can't say I'm disappointed to see media having to rethink their coverage of Iraq war this past three years.  It is only an opinion, my opinion, but I found myself keenly disappointed often times in what looked to me like a cowering media (national and local) in the face of the patriotic/unpatriotic rhetoric that flourished in 2003-2004-2005. And yet, per a report from a group called Reporters Without Borders, 86 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq from March 20, 2003, to March 20, 2006. That's not indicative of feint heart and some degree of earnestness in getting to the stories to make the reports.

  I earnestly hope that media will find their own balance in future reporting. Reporting on the reports is not exactly what I consider 'the news' and yet it does seem to be a fact that it's dangerous in Iraq and news staff can die there, just like the troops and civilians.

  Do I want to hear the feel good reports?  Sure, but not at the expense of reporting on the actual condition of the war.   There were 'good things happening in Vietnam' too, but anecdotal feel good reports don't reflect the overall condition of the war itself.  If I wanted 1950's newsreels of how great our military is doing in this changed world of post 9/11, I would think I would have to be somewhat stilted in my growth as an adult to embrace such as other than propaganda bits.

 After intently watching television reported newscasts, talkie personality news reports, through 2003, 2004 by 2005 I quit tuning in to hang on every word, every report. With two deployed loved ones, every day of deployment is an anxious day. The final straw came for me when watching in disgust during the 2004 elections news reports without some degree of indignation as the Commander-in-Chief in war-time insulted our entire military and their families with his pardody of 'searching for weapons of mass destruction' under his desk at the White House. A fund-raising event played out to his wealthy base intended to be humorous for the occasion.  

 I was grateful to have internet, bloggers, independent media, and everyday citizens trying to carry forward the 'unreported' news on Iraq; our deployed service men and women in uniform and conditions on the ground in Iraq; the state of the war in Iraq. In time it became apparant though, that blogoshere reporting on both sides leaned in favor of their own agenda.

My own new activism as a military family speaking out put me in the position of doing national and local media interviews, a not entirely comfortable or familiar position for me.   Initially it did have the appearance of balanced reporting; different views from military family stakeholders.  Over time it became formulaic in that media seemed to want one military family  speaking in what was considered oppositional to the war with another military family speaking in what was considered favorable to the war.  I do have to give credit though to our own media here in Washington. I did not have what I consider to be bad or awkward experiences and am grateful for the mostly accurate reflection in reports of the interviews media has conducted with me.

  I think the challenge comes in stating clearly what it is we want media to report regarding the war in Iraq.  Your thoughts?


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
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

Michaelmoore.com 

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
Thursday, 7 April 2005

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Media Involvement

Footing the bill of war

Seattle Times staff columnist

[Article excerpts. Click here to read the entire article.

Dance in them, drink from them, wear them to bed.

As long as the military boots came home to Kent with her husband in them, Stacy Bannerman doesn't care what he does with them. Because hundreds of pairs of boots have come home empty, their owners lost to the bomb blasts and gunfire of the war in Iraq.

... But it is another thing entirely to stand before 1,500 pairs of war-worn boots, as the region will do when "Eyes Wide Open" comes to Fisher Pavilion this weekend.

The exhibit, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, represents the American soldiers who have lost their lives; and 1,000 pairs of civilian shoes, representing Iraqi civilian casualties.

 ... And while she has never seen "Eyes Wide Open" in person (the exhibit has been traveling around the country since January 2004), Bannerman is urging people to go.

It may be the only way for those who have not watched a loved one leave for war to get a sense of "the human cost."

And there's this: The war in Iraq is the first long-term military engagement where the burden has not been more shared by those at home. No rationing. No war bonds. No appeals to make cutbacks.

Even the Vietnam War was more closely felt here, Bannerman said, "because the draft was operative."

While her husband was in Iraq, Bannerman couldn't open her blinds for fear of seeing a government vehicle pull up, bearing bad news.

"I was absolutely powerless," she said.

She wants others to see the war beyond deployment and homecoming ceremonies.

"We are so geared to the 'Johnny comes marching home,' that we don't want to see the millions of people left behind," she said. Or the ones who never came home.

Bannerman imagines "Eyes" will be something like standing at Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60, an area set aside for soldiers killed in Iraq.

Can she put that experience in words?

There was a long pause. The start of tears. And then:

"I don't know that I will ever be able to. There is something unspeakably sad about a plot of land being set aside by our government, waiting for the dead bodies of our children and husbands and wives."

Bannerman knows she is one of the lucky ones.

"He came back whole, and he came back alive."

And his boots?

"They're in the closet," she said. Seems Sgt. Bannerman has re-upped.

"He's using them still."

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 2 March 2005

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman on Hardball with Chris Matthews
Topic: Media Involvement

'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for March 2 

Transcript of that portion of the MSNBC show that included Stacy's participation.

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL

As American troops continue to be shipped off to Iraq and to Afghanistan, the wives of soldiers are left behind to take care of business at home. 

Karen Houppert is a freelance journalist who spent two years profiling military wives and is the author of the new book “Home Fires Burning:

Married to the Military for Better or Worse.”  Also with us is Stacy Bannerman, whose husband, Lorin, is a reservist serving now in Iraq. 

Thank you, ladies, both for joining us. 

I want to start with Karen. 

What surprised you about the military wife experience in these wars? 

KAREN HOUPPERT, AUTHOR, “HOME FIRES BURNING”:  I think the most surprising thing I learned in the course of reporting for this book was how many wives actually were opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq, the U.S.  invasion there.  That actually came as quite a surprise to me. 

But, also, I was surprised to discover that, while the military on paper has a lot of support programs out there for wives, when it comes to the actual execution, they don‘t do so well.  And...

Let me go right now to Stacy Bannerman, because I think we‘ve got exhibit A here. 

Stacy, where do you stand on whether the United States should have gone into Iraq? 

STACY BANNERMAN, WIFE OF U.S. SOLDIER SERVING IN IRAQ:  Well, I believe that we shouldn‘t have.  Clearly, we shouldn‘t have, because we didn‘t have the facts right and the rationale presented to go to war was based on lies. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of the elections over there a couple weeks back? 

BANNERMAN:  Well, they conducted them and now they‘re over.  That was the third reason given for the troop presence being in Iraq.  But yet we haven‘t brought an exit strategy together to bring them home. 

MATTHEWS:  Among the other wives in your situation whose husbands or friends who are males whose wives are serving over there, to keep it equal here, is there a lot of dissidence—dissent on this policy of going into Iraq, even though you have spouses over there? 

BANNERMAN:  Well, I think that there‘s an increasing number of military wives, whether they be married to men in the regular Army enlisted or in the Army National Guard and Reserves, such as I am, that have really begun to question why it is the troops are over there and certainly why they‘re there after all of this time. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you anti-war? 

BANNERMAN:  I believe that we‘ve got other options available to us, and we certainly did in Iraq.  We didn‘t need to launch an attack on this country. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BANNERMAN:  There were other things that could have been pursued, and that wasn‘t done.  I think that was a real mistake. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s a common argument, but are you anti-war?  Are you a pacifist? 

BANNERMAN:  Oh, yes, I am. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did you marry a guy in uniform? 

BANNERMAN:  My husband is in the Army National Guard.  The Army National Guard is not intended as being primarily overseas combat troops.  That‘s not what they were about.

MATTHEWS:  But they do wear uniforms and they carry weapons.  And the purpose for their existence is fighting wars when the democratic government that we all have to live under chooses to fight those wars.  Didn‘t you see all that coming? 

BANNERMAN:  Chris, the primary purpose of the National Guard is actually as a state-based force to provide assistance to their state and local communities.  That‘s what they‘re recruiting the National Guard for and that is what those ads still say, even though those troops are now being sent overseas and are 42 percent of the boots on the ground. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Karen.

HOUPPERT:  Oh, sorry.  I was just going to...

MATTHEWS:  Karen Houppert, your thoughts on this.  Is this a common view, that spouses of people who serve in the guard don‘t think of themselves as G.I. wives or spouses; they think of themselves as having a husband who is involved with the home guard, more or less? 

HOUPPERT:  Yes, I think that‘s true.  And I also think it‘s interesting to note that about 40 percent of the soldiers that are stationed over—or that have served in Iraq or Afghanistan also think it‘s a mistake for the U.S. to be over there.  And about 42 percent of them think that we are at greater risk of terrorist attack now than we were before this.  That‘s...

MATTHEWS:  How can they express that view?  Is there any way they can legitimately express that view while their husbands or wife is in uniform? 

HOUPPERT:  It‘s very difficult, I think.  There‘s a lot of overt and covert pressure to not speak out against the administration‘s views. 

And, for soldiers, that‘s particularly difficult.  For wives, it shouldn‘t be so difficult, but it is.  And many of them fear that it jeopardizes their husband‘s job if they speak out. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, we‘ve been to Pendleton and we‘ve met the young Marines and their wives, in some cases, who were totally supportive of the effort they have to pursue as military active members. 

They are a different category than National Guardsmen.  They want to fight the war because they are trained to fight it, and they believe this cause is justified, in most cases.  But in either case, whether you‘re a Guardsman or Reservist or a regular Army or Marine, you come home with a couple of legs or limbs missing, a couple of arms missing, you come home with brain damage, losing your sight, all kinds of damage, but you survive. 

What did you learn about that experience for the spouse, Karen? 

HOUPPERT:  I think it‘s a very, very difficult recovery process when the soldiers come home wounded, obviously.  But also even if there aren‘t physical wounds, there‘s post-traumatic stress syndrome that a lot of them struggle with. 

And it‘s very hard for families.  Also, another issue that comes up quite often is that the wife has been independent on her own, making decisions on her own for a year.  And it‘s sometimes difficult for the husband to squeeze back into family life that has gone on without him.  And those are the issues that the Army is really not so good at helping families address. 

MATTHEWS:  Karen, what are your views about the general—or, Stacy, your views about the general situation of the military and how it treats spouses and family life? 

BANNERMAN:  Well, I believe that, again, especially with the Army National Guard spouses, we have not been provided really with any kind of preparation for deployment.  We do not have access to the same level of support and resources that regular military wives do. 

For example, the gentleman who was sent to kind of work with a—the group of military wives, National Guard wives, was ex-Marine.  Now, that‘s not really conducive to developing good, strong bonds, that emotional support that these women need when their husbands are called to serve and sometimes given less than 30 days notice, pulling them out of homes and out of jobs and out of families that they weren‘t prepared for. 

I think the military has really fallen short in meeting the needs of the wives.  And that‘s one of the reasons, honestly, that we‘re seeing the diminished return rate, reenlistment rate of National Guard and Reserves. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you angry, Stacy, about this whole situation, this war? 

BANNERMAN:  I am—I am greatly concerned about it.  I do have some anger about it, because I think a gross violation of the national trust has happened with this. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you believe it‘s been misused by the president? 

BANNERMAN:  Unquestionably. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  It‘s great having you on. 

BANNERMAN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t hear many voices like yours.  And I‘m glad you came on. 

BANNERMAN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Stacy Bannerman, whose husband is serving in the Guard in Iraq right now.

And, of course, Karen Houppert, who has written this new book “Home

Fires Burning,” which contains a lot of stories like this, “Married to the

Military For Better or Worse.‘

Thank you, ladies, for coming on. 

HOUPPERT:  Thank you for having us.

BANNERMAN:  Thank you. 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Monday, 4 October 2004

Now Playing: Lehrer News Hour
Topic: Media Involvement

LEE HOCHBERG: Antiwar protesters have rallied every week in Seattle since the Iraq War began. Largely, they're members of the established peace movement, but lately they've been joined by new demonstrators: Family members of those fighting the war.

VICKY MONK, Military Parent: I'm not opposed to war, all war. But what I am opposed to is the irresponsible use of the military, which I believe is what happened in the Iraq war.

LEE HOCHBERG: Vicky Monk hopes her son is home soon, after what she says have been 15 harrowing months for him, with the army's 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. She and other military families are lashing out against a war they first believed was against Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, but now say is meaningless.

Vicky MonkVICKY MONK: When the army itself admitted they were unable to find the weapons of mass destruction, my son began to question, "Why am I here? Why do I have to continue to be here?" So, I feel a certain amount of responsibility, as his mother, to stand up and say, Why did you send my son to war? Why did you put my son in harm's way?

 

 

 

The changing face of the anti-war movement

LEE HOCHBERG: The more commonly seen face of military families is like these, at a "Support the Troops" night at a Seattle Mariners baseball game. ("Taps" playing) For them and most military families, supporting the troops has also meant unwavering support for President Bush and the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

SPOKESPERSON: He's going to be serving at least 12 months past the time he was supposed to be retired.

LEE HOCHBERG: But as U.S. military deaths in Iraq have risen past 1,000 with an end nowhere in sight, some parents and spouses of soldiers have taken public their growing opposition to the war.

MOTHER: My son was in the army. He was killed Feb. 3 of this year.

REPORTER: How?

MOTHER: How? You tell me --

LEE HOCHBERG: This mother, whose son was killed in Iraq, protested last month at a New Jersey campaign appearance of First Lady Laura Bush.

Woman being arrestedMOTHER: Go ahead. Come on. Arrest me -- right here in front of everybody.

LEE HOCHBERG: She challenged the first lady's assertions that the war is going well. She was handcuffed and arrested for trespassing.

MOTHER: Excuse me! What are you charging me with? Excuse me!

LEE HOCHBERG: Other families have lain memorials for fallen relatives outside the White House fence in somber protest. Such resistance from military families didn't happen in previous wars, according to historian Michael Beschloss.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: We're seeing something that really is unusual because military families in history have been pretty much inclined not to do this sort of thing. It's in a way sort of part of that culture. And the fact that they are doing it now shows how deeply many of them feel about the fact that they were never convinced at the beginning of this war that it was the right thing to do.

NANCY LESSIN, Military Parent: It was our loved ones who were going to go, and we felt that, in fact, they were going to be used as cannon fodder.

LEE HOCHBERG: Sixteen hundred military families have joined under the banner of "Military Families Speak Out." The group was founded by Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson of Boston. Their son, Joe, a marine, was deployed to Iraq in what the pair saw as a war for oil. Lessin's group attracted other families when she used the Internet to call for a full troop withdrawal. Thirty of the members have lost loved ones. Others were worried about extended deployments, inadequate equipment and post-traumatic stress disorder. All had been afraid to go public.

Nancy LessinNANCY LESSIN: There are so many that have bought into what this administration is trying to sell, which is in order to be patriotic, in order to support the troops, you have to support the war. It is absolutely possible to support the troops and oppose the war.

CHARLEY RICHARDSON, Military Families Speak Out: The people who made the decision to take us into this war aren't giving up their loved ones to this war. We are, and our voices are important.

Dealing with and countering the criticism

LEE HOCHBERG: Their message has resonated among some families with longtime military backgrounds. In rural South Bend, Washington, lay pastor Lietta Ruger used her church pulpit to assail President Bush for misleading America.

LIETTA RUGER, Military Family: I am a military family. We are a military family. I speak out in support of the troops, by bringing them home and ending this war that we know is a product of lies.

LEE HOCHBERG: Ruger's son-in-law and nephew are in the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. Her husband, Arthur, and her father, were in the Air Force.

LIETTA RUGER: I am not from the peace movement. I am not Jane Fonda on the street. I am not a leftover '60s protester. I am a military brat, wife of a veteran. But Vietnam taught us something. We have to do critical thinking when we give permission for our country to go to war.

LEE HOCHBERG: The Rugers say their son-in-law doesn't object to their criticism of the war. He shared his thoughts with us by phone, requesting we shield his identity.

SON-IN-LAW: To go to war on the basis that we went to war on, I don't agree with that. And then to get lied to by the president. We know people are speaking out against the war, not against us. We're not dumb. We know.

LIETTA RUGER: He said, "Mom, it's wrong here. We're not doing anything. We're hurting, we're harming."

LEE HOCHBERG: Despite her son-in- law's support, Ruger's extended military family has been furious with her stand, and she has been severely criticized over the Internet. Family life also has been difficult for Stacy Bannerman, whose husband left Seattle for Iraq with his National Guard unit in February. Bannerman's life work has been with peace organizations and she has publicly opposed the war from its start.

STACY BANNERMAN: We should be crying about this. We should be. This country should be.

LEE HOCHBERG: But her husband embraces his mission. One evening last month, as she attended a Seattle-area meeting of Military Families Speak Out, he telephoned from Baghdad.

STACY BANNERMAN: Sometimes I wonder if I'm... am I somehow, in some way, shape or form betraying him? Of course, that's crossed my mind. And yet, how can my wanting to preserve his life and the lives of tens of thousands of others, how could that ever potentially be seen as a betrayal?

Does protesting the war hurt the troops?

LEE HOCHBERG: Some answer that all of the antiwar military families are guilty of betrayal. Outside the church in rural South Bend, Thelma Crawford was critical of Lietta Ruger's antiwar sermon.

THELMA CRAWFORD: You know as well as I that there's terrorists that's living all around us, and all they've got to do is just get a little support and a little momentum and, bing, we're gone.

LEE HOCHBERG: And at a recent "Support the Troops" demonstration outside Seattle, some said even if Saddam possessed no weapons of mass destruction, his removal itself justifies the war. They say military families speaking out undercut the U.S. mission there. Robert Snyder was in the army during the Vietnam era.

ROBERT SNYDER, Veteran: If my family didn't even support me during the 15 years that I was active duty, do you think that would be wrong? That would be wrong. That would hurt me emotionally.

LEE HOCHBERG: Nadine Gulit agrees.

Nadine GulitNADINE GULIT, Military Family: You cannot support the troops without supporting the mission that they are on.

LEE HOCHBERG: She has three grandsons in the army, one in Iraq. She says criticism of the military mission emboldens the enemy and puts U.S. soldiers at risk.

NADINE GULIT: When the protesters and the people spoke out against, it's demoralizing and it is a form of treason. Yes, the enemy does use it. They will use it. It builds up their morale.

LEE HOCHBERG: But military families opposed to the war say they are every bit as patriotic as those who support it. They traveled to the nation's capital this weekend to talk to members of Congress and staged a very public demonstration, carrying caskets from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House.


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