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Long Beach Veterans Day Parade Photos

In 2007, our application was rejected by the city of Long Beach and Pageantry Productions because of our political stance. We were only asking for the right to march under our organization’s banner and with our organization’s t-shirts. Because we stayed the course, meeting with several officials, and making the front for several days in our local newspaper and some national television news, we were eventually granted permission to march. That was after our friends from Iraq Veterans Against the War rejected an offer to sit on the fire truck, sans IVAW t-shirts, but showed up and saluted all parade marchers in the median on the day of the march.

It was a moment we will never forget and that is another reason to continue to take this annual opportunity to be part of the parade, so we can point out that the wars continue.

We do not participate to glorify war but remind people that we want peace now. Also, we continue to have students pass out informational materials to youth, so they consider the truth and consequences about enlistment and war.

From a Mom on Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and many thoughts are racing through my mind. You’d think after having a son in the military for over 20 years and he being currently deployed to the Persian Gulf  (and that’s after five previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan),  that I would be a little jaded right now about Veterans Day. In some ways I am. Military families are worn out from 16 years of war.

We currently have over 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and who knows how many in Iraq/Syria today.  I’ve seen data stating between Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, we could have over 12,000 troops.  As Secretary Mattis adds even more troops to the African continent, I try to contain my thoughts that wonder what is the real threat to the U.S. from Africa? I try to contain control these thoughts because our troops are stationed in too many places right now and for way too long. I just can’t wrap my head around that right now.

Just last month, Iraq’s government was debating whether or not they should ask the US to stay- update pending on that. A civil war between Kurds and Iraq’s central government is escalating, partially due to a new law that limits who can export oil, (businesses hold a monopoly on oil and the government could stop the oil flow in northern Iraq that is under Kurdish control).

Yes, something more frightening is brewing on the horizon and we all know it. The topic of nuclear war with Korea is tossed about like a bargaining chip and it scares the hell out of all of us- no one more than military families. Not even our troops are as scared as we are. We have the benefit of the long view.  We already witnessed the tragic crumbling of any diplomatic efforts after 9-11 and suffered though unspeakable losses and destruction when President Bush concocted a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and locked us into endless war. Now any diplomatic efforts are in the hands of an even a greater war monger. Even if the president’s own appointed Secretary of State dares to tone down President Trump’s dangerous and threatening language, President Trump is quick to undercut him in a moment of rage. So we feel the déjà vu.  Military families know the stench of impending war like no one else.

Hopefully, my son will be home soon. I pray that this will be his last deployment and for that wonderful day when all of our loved ones will return home for good.  I know I am luckier than so many of my Gold Star brothers and sisters. I also know the outcome won’t be a simple welcome home and we’re all good now. After after, all we do live in the Los Angeles area, the home of the largest homeless veteran population in the nation and there’s no getting away from the nightmarish fact that 21 veterans die by suicide daily and one active duty service member every day.  It’s always on my mind, but I just want him home now.

Back to Veteran’s Day. I am pestered by my inner voice of reason that keeps asking me, “Why we celebrate Veterans Day anyway?  Why was it changed from Armistice Day in 1952- a day celebrating peace and the end of World War I?”  Everyone says it’s to honor all veterans instead of just veterans from that era and theater. I’m having serious trouble with that rationale as I begrudgingly get ready to march in our local Veterans Day Parade . There’s going to be a whole lot of glorifying of war, and kids under 12 will be twirling fake rifles like batons. And oh, yeah, funnel cake.

 

Next year will mark the 100th year of Armistice Day. Let’s try to remember all of our loved ones on this day and that they are still fighting in a war that never should have happened in the first place. Let’s remember their needs are many, but we as a nation cannot give them our full attention that could help them heal until all of them are home safe and we are not creating more veterans in need of our care. So let’s take a moment tomorrow and consider how we can really help our veterans. Let’s bring them home now.

Veterans For Peace has a good article on Armistice Day at https://www.veteransforpeace.org/take-action/armistice-day/

Pat Alviso

Military Families Speak Out-Mom

MFSO Joins 64 Organizations Calling For End to US Military Involvement in Yemen

Today, the Yemen Peace Project (YPP), along with 64 other organizations, sent a letter to the United States House of Representatives to express their support for House Concurrent Resolution 81. The Resolution directs the President of the United States to end US military involvement in Yemen’s civil war, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. Currently, the United States provides logistical, technical, and advisory military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen without authorization from Congress. The coalition has perpetrated war crimestargeted civilians repeatedly using US-sold weapons, and created the conditions necessary for Yemen to become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Ending the United States military role in the conflict is essential to ending the notion that the coalition can win this war in the battlefield and push for peace.

Yemen’s man-made humanitarian crisis has created severe hardships for the civilian population. Over 17 million Yemenis do not have enough food with more than 7 million facing famine, and estimates show that there will be over 1 millioncholera cases by the end of year – the largest cholera outbreak ever documented in modern history. Salaries of civil servants, teachers, and critical medical personnel have not been paid in over a year and the country faces a critical shortage of functioning medical facilities, with less than 45 percent of Yemen’s health care system still functional. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces have contributed to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, although coalition airstrikes ate the leading cause of civilian casualties according to the UN. While efforts to hold the parties to the conflict accountable have been difficult, the United States cannot credibly push for peace while continuing to arm one side of the conflict. Congress can end this contradictory policy and move to alleviate civilian suffering in Yemen by passing House Concurrent Resolution 81.

Under the United States Constitution, Congress has the exclusive authority to declare war. US involvement in Yemen’s civil war has never been publicly debated or voted on by Congress. The Obama and Trump administrations has also consistently refused to brief Congress on the level and degree of support for the Saudi-led coalition, thus hindering efforts to create accountability for the US government’s actions. Moreover, continued support for the Saudi-led coalition could make the United States complicit in the coalition’s war crimes. Congress must exercise its constitutional authority and end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition.

The YPP and the other signatories to the letter urge members of the House of Representatives to vote in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 81 and end US involvement in Yemen’s civil war.
Read on to view a PDF of the letter here.

Afghanistan: The Forgotten War

By Mary Hladky, Military Families Speak Out

October 5, 2017 — Watching the PBS series on Vietnam is a graphic reminder of the horrors of war.  Unfortunately, one of the few things the U.S. government learned from Vietnam was how to hide the horrors of the Afghanistan war from public view as much as possible, to prevent the backlash experienced during the Vietnam war.  No body counts, no reporters roaming free, only embedded journalists, minimal media coverage with little footage of the actual war, and no pictures of coffins returning home.

The Trump Administration has decided to continue to support the war in Afghanistan, only with more troops and no stated end game.  As this war completes its 16th year, on October 7, more troops are on their way to Afghanistan.  The suffering of our troops, their families and the Afghan people will continue.

Afghanistan is the forgotten war, even though it is currently the United States’ largest military foreign engagement, with 16,000+ troops and tens of thousands of defense and agency contractors.
The only people who benefit from this war are the military contractors and the corrupt Afghan government, made up of many drug and war lords guilty of human rights abuses and war crimes.  The Afghan government and Taliban controls, protects, and benefits from the enormous poppy crop that supplies over 90% of the world’s heroin.  SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction) reports that reconstruction in Afghanistan is nearly nonexistent after spending $100 billion.

The Afghan government, which the U.S. has propped up with billions of dollars and thousands of American livesremains overwhelmingly corrupt, a government the Afghan people will never accept.
In the meantime, the Taliban has grown in numbers and holds more territory than ever before, 40-50% of the country.

The human costs of war for our troops, the Afghan forces and civilians has been enormous.  Death, injuries and nearly a trillion dollars have been wasted for no redeemable benefit.  Yet instead of pursuing peace, our government continues to opt for more war.
Americans need to take a stand against the Afghanistan war.  We need to reflect on what it is that we believe – ask yourself two basic questions:

How, as Americans, do we continually accept sending young men and women to risk their lives for a futile, never ending war?
What would you say to a mother who loses her son or daughter in Afghanistan?  Can you explain what her child actually died for?  What was the noble cause?

It’s up to everyone one of us who are uncomfortable with the answers to these questions, to demand an end to the Afghanistan War.