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Remembering Dede Miller

MFSO is heartbroken to announce the news of the passing of dedicated member, Dede Miller.  She will be greatly missed.
Dede began this life on June 16, 1958 in Inglewood Ca. Shortly thereafter her family relocated to Bellflower CA where Dede loved to play softball and music and graduated from Bellflower High School in the class of 1976.

For 25 years, Dede worked at the Bellflower Kmart as Human Resources manager until she quit to work full-time for the peace and social justice movement after her nephew Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.Dede will be remembered for her quick sense of humor and zest for life. She traveled the world with sister Cindy in her quest for peace and remarked “I’ve had a wonderful life” shortly before her transition.

Dede will be missed by many, but especially by those family members that survive her: sister Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville CA; brother Scott Miller of Bellflower CA; brother-in-law Patrick Sheehan of Fairfield CA; niece Carly Sheehan of Novato CA; nephew Andy Sheehan and niece Jane Henry both of Vacaville. In the final two years of her life, Dede found great joy and comfort in her great nieces and nephews: Jonah, Jovie, Jackson, Jillian Henry; and Cohen Sheehan, all of Vacaville. The friends and people she had a positive influence on and touched profoundly in her too short life are too numerous to list.

Dede was in home hospice care for her last days and was surrounded by love, peace, and her beloved family at all times.

Dede loved animals and when she needed a distraction from the cancer “treatments” and pain, she spent many hours watching the antics of the Lone Star Dog Rescue Ranch.
In lieu of flowers, we request that you make a donation there in Dede’s memory.
online donation
or address:
Highlights info row image (972) 924-4800

President Obama Issues Condolence Letter

Military Families Speak Out’s (MFSO) last meeting at the White House was August 27th 2015.  We discussed ending our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the high rate of military suicides and VA care. The very next morning we learned that Tyler Westbrook, son of WV MFSO representative, Marcia Westbrook, completed suicide at his home. Tyler was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado.

We immediately informed our WH contact who was very sympathetic stating that a request would be made for a letter of condolence from the President.

A few days later, our contact informed us that this letter would not be sent because Tyler died “stateside”.  We were informed that it is the policy of the Department of Defense that only active service members who die by suicide while deployed can be sent a letter of condolence from the President.

How can such a distinction be made?  It is an obviously offensive and ill-conceived policy that is very painful to the families. This policy reinforces the stigma attached to suicide making these families feel less than, that their loved one’s service was unimportant and their sacrifice not respected.

MFSO diligently worked with our White House contact requesting the Defense Department’s policy be changed so that the President could send a condolence letter to the family.

After 16 months, to our surprise and with tears of joy and sadness, Marcia Westbrook received a signed letter of condolence from President Obama.

Thank you President Obama.

We don’t yet know if the Department of Defense changed its policy or if President Obama signed this letter because he agrees the policy is ridiculous and hurtful, causing more pain. We are in touch with the White House hoping to learn that the Department of Defense changed this awful policy so that every family whose military member dies by suicide is entitled to receive a presidential condolence letter.

MFSO Opposes Nomination of General Mattis

Military Families Speak Out opposes the nomination by Donald Trump of General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Mattis retired from the military in 2013. That means Congress needed to waive rules that require defense secretaries to be civilians for seven or more years after leaving the military to ensure civilian control over the armed forces.  The Senate has already voted to waive that requirement.  Civilian control of our military is fundamental to American democracy.

Donald Trump introduced General Mattis by the nickname “Mad Dog” as if this is someone “cool,” someone to be revered. According to journalist Dahr Jamail, over his career Mattis has shown “callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians, as evidenced by his behavior leading Marines in Iraq and comments he made about enjoying fighting in Afghanistan because ‘it’s fun to shoot some people. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot.’.” (James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand. Truthout. December 6, 2016, D. Jamail)

“Mad Dog” was a name Mattis received after the 2004 battles of Fallujah in Iraq. More than 5700 civilians were killed. More than 100 U.S. troops died. At that time, white phosphorous, a weapon which, like napalm, burns all the way down to the bone was used. Its use is a violation of international law, as it was used in a city with thousands of civilians. So many U.S. service members who participated in the battles of Fallujah still reel from physical and moral injuries.

In a speech in 2003 Mattis spoke to soldiers about how to behave in Iraq. He said, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” The consequences for this hideous attitude have been drastic –widespread hatred toward our service members, hatred toward America – and moral injury for our soldiers and Marines.

Under General Mattis’s authority in 2005 US Marines massacred 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha.  Many members of Military Families Speak Out remember these battles personally because it impacted our own families or families of friends and neighbors. Many of us in MFSO remember when our loved ones were trained or were under the command of General Mattis and deeply resent his cavalier attitude.

Our troops deserve moral leadership.  We call on MFSO members and friends to call your Senator today to tell them to oppose the nomination of James Mattis for Secretary of Defense. 202-224-2131.

Spread the word!