Thursday, February 19, 2009

Iraq Veterans Against the War - Organizing amidst the Economic Crisis!

From their latest dispatch (follow the link at the end of the report, sign up):

Veterans & Workers Unite in Chicago

On January 31st, IVAW Chicago participated in “War's Real Impact” community forum in collaboration with Chicago Jobs With Justice and Military Families Speak Out.  The event featured testimonies from veterans, military families, students and workers, and over 200 people attended.  Many in the audience were rank and file labor union members along with labor activists from unions like UNITE HERE Local 1, SEIU Locals 1 and 73 and United Electrical. "With the economy in shambles and money being endlessly dumped into the war, it especially makes sense to build an alliance with organized labor.  Workers’ and veterans’ struggles are the same struggle," said Chicago Chapter president, Pete Sullivan.

IVAW Holds First Organizing Training for Active Duty Soldiers

This past weekend, IVAW held a training for members who are currently active duty service members, where they learned skills on how to build IVAW chapters on military bases, often the most hostile places to organize GI resistance to the occupation of Iraq.  Ten active duty members representing five military bases participated in the training.  Sessions were held at the Coffee Strong cafĂ©, which is run by IVAW members of the Seattle chapter and located near Ft. Lewis.  

Former Guantanamo Guards and IVAW Members Break their Silence

Last night, IVAW Houston chapter president, Brandon Neely, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show discussing his time as a prison guard at Guantanamo.  Brandon has been speaking out about the abuses and human rights violations he witnessed when he was stationed there.  See the video clip to hear his story.

In addition, member Chris Arendt recently completed a speaking tour with former Guantanamo detainees in the UK discussing the horrendous conditions at Guantanamo.  See a clip on the BBC here and read an article in the Guardiannewspaper outlining the tour.

Ft. Hood chapter Members Mysteriously Receive Simultaneous Honorable Discharges

“I told them [commanding officers] I would go to jail before I would go back to Iraq,” said Ronn Cantu, former Staff Sergeant and president of the IVAW Ft. Hood chapter, who had already served two tours in Iraq.  While such a statement would normally be grounds for court martial, instead Ronn was given an honorable discharge.  Four other chapter members, all who wanted out of the Army, also received discharges within weeks of each other.  While it served to dismantle the Ft. Hood chapter, it also released the members from the difficult choices confronting them as GI resisters.  Ronn is now active in the Austin, TX chapter which considers Ft. Hood its satellite chapter and reaches out to the remaining active duty members there.  An important lesson can be drawn from this experience: IVAW remains a palpable threat to the active duty military.  Stay tuned for the Austin, TX Winter Soldier Hearings, coming up on February 28.

IVAW Feels the Squeeze of the Global Financial Crisis

IVAW recently received news that one of our foundation grants we were awarded was cut in half.  We believe that foundation has suffered serious losses due to its investment with Bernard Madoff.  This means that we received $20,000 instead of $40,000.  This unexpected news has put us in a very challenging financial situation, and we have had to cut spending including our dedicated staff taking temporary pay cuts, in order to meet our goals. 

Donate to IVAWWe are working hard to make up the shortfalls in our budget so that we can stay on track to hire three Field Organizers in May.  Will you help us make up the $20,000 shortfall?  A majority of our funding comes from individuals like you, and you have been there with us through thick and thin.  We especially need your help right now.  Make a donation now to help.


Kelly Dougherty
Former Sergeant, Army National Guard
Executive Director
Iraq Veterans Against the War


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