Category Archives: Announcement

A Note from our New MFSO Office in Long Beach, CA

After months of planning, organizing and working with the previous MFSO staff, we are proud to announce that the national organization of Military Families Speak Out is up and running once again! We bring to this rebuild project a renewed energy and commitment to our message- “Support the Troops, Bring our Them Home Now and Take Care of Them When They Get Here”. We are here because we have loved ones in the military and refuse to be silent and do nothing while our families continue to be deployed to Afghanistan.

Where we are…..

The new MFSO office is located right behind the home of Pat Alvlso and Jeff Merrick in Long Beach, CA. and is set up with donated office equipment given to us by local members of MFSO  and Veterans for Peace. Our address is 775 Havana Ave., Long Beach, CA 90804. You can reach the office at or email us at mfso@mfso.org.  Pat, Jeff and Tina Lopez, (MFSO steering committee member Long Beach, CA) will be checking and responding to all emails as needed. You may also call us at 562-597-3980.  

Who we are and what we’ve done so far…….

We have a total of 15 members from across the country that have agreed to be responsible to complete the many tasks that are required in order to keep MFSO running. This group has volunteered to meet twice a month by phone for now and then later on a monthly basis to make important decisions that will keep us operational and create a powerful voice until all combat troops come home from Afghanistan- at least until December 2014. Soon the names of these volunteers and their area of responsibility will be posted on our website.

The major reconstruction work of setting up and updating our website has begun and will continue to be handled by Dede Miller, (Goldstar Families Speak Out member, Bellflower,CA). We are grateful for the work Dede has put into making our website operational and once again relevant. Please visit our new website at mfso.org.  Dede will continue to add more information, as needed, along with the latest information on campaigns, reports, calls to action and stories from you. Your submissions and comments will be appreciated.

We also invite you and your friends to join our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MilitaryFamiliesSpeakOut . Rossana Cambron, (former MFSO board member, Los Angeles, CA), is the moderator for the site and is looking for your valuable input. Please take a moment to “like, comment and share” so we can get the word out to as many people as possible about our actions and grow. At this point, MFSO has over 6,000 followers on Facebook. Thank you, Rossana, for getting our Facebook page organized and operational.

As a result of Paula Rogovin’s leadership, (former board member, New Jersey), we have determined that our first campaign should be about stopping the new security agreement that is being discussed in Washington between the US and Afghanistan. If this new agreement is signed by both parties it could allow our troops to stay in this unjust war for another ten years!  We invite you to put all the energy you can to support this campaign by getting other like minded organizations, friends, and your local representatives in congress to participate. Below you will find more information about the campaign and suggestions on what you can do to stop the treaty from happening.

We look forward to hearing from all of you and ask you to renew your commitment help bring our troops home now. We know that at least 75% of the American people agree with our position   that our troops need to come home. We believe that no possible good can come from us staying in Afghanistan another day. We will need you to help us harness this energy, mobilize and not let the public forget that our troops are still out being deployed and need to come home now.

We encourage you to read the letter below and take action now.

 CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?

Dear Military Family Members,

Can you believe it? The U.S. government is literally begging the Afghanistan government to allow us to keep our combat troops in Afghanistan until 2024! It will be our daughters, sons, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and other family members in the military (and Afghan civilians) who will pay the price. Once again the American people will be used to pay the billions of dollars to pay these bills.

This is an emergency and Military Families Speak Out and veterans must mobilize now and demand that all combat troops be out of Afghanistan in 2014! Please, please look below to see how you can help stop this war.

What MFSO members and friends can do

1.      Contact the following people and insist that we bring all combat troops home in 2014.
President Barack Obama.   202-246-1111
Secretary of State John Kerry. 202-647-4000 or go to his website: US.state.gov. Then click on “e-mail a question” or “comment” and demand a full withdrawal of our troops .
Your members of the House and Senate in Congress. 202-224-3121

2.      Set up a meeting at the local office of your members of Congress. If you are the only MFSO member or you have only a small group in your area, work with veterans and other peace activists to join you.

3.      Below you will find a letter that you can mail, post on social media or email. This letter is taken in part from a letter we have also included from congress members Barbara Lee, Walter Jones and James McGovern and changed so that it fits within our mission statement. Attached we have  included the original letter from the three congress members, which allows for a later date for withdrawal and wiggle room for the president to get congressional approval, but we wanted you to see  that there is support from some members of congress to end this war. We encourage you to write your own letter, of course, and send it out. BE sure to mention if you have or had a loved one in the military.

4.      Newspapers and other media- consider sending letters to newspaper editorial sections or as an ad.

5.      Vigil. If there is still a local peace vigil in your community, ask if you can hand out flyers about this effort. Make signs and flyers. Do let MSFO know about vigils and send any flyers or copies of signs so we can help spread the word.

6.      If you have other suggestions for actions please contact us at MFSO@MFSO.org

Letter from MFSO

Dear Mr. President:
The war in Afghanistan is in its 13th year, and the need to bring our troops home could not be any clearer. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan suggested in a recent interview that he would be willing to see the permanent exit of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. President Karzai has also repeatedly stated that he sees no potential security benefit from an enduring U.S. security mission.
Lacking a supportive and viable political partner in Afghanistan, there simply is no military solution American troops can achieve, and extending U.S. troop presence will not serve vital U.S. security goals. Why lose additional lives for an openly hostile and corrupt Afghan government?
The U.S. simply no longer has compelling security interests in Afghanistan that justifies combat troops beyond December 2014. Furthermore, as coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan, U.S.-funded reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars will soon be inaccessible for safe inspection, raising serious questions about our responsibility to conduct vigorous oversight of taxpayer supported efforts.
There is a growing bipartisan sentiment across the country for an expedited end of military activities in Afghanistan. After over twelve years of war, after the loss of lies of thousands of our loved ones, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, it is time to bring an end to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and bring all of our troops home now.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Military Families Speak Out
Pat Alviso & Jeff Merrick
Military Families Speak Out
Orange County & South Bay Chapter
www.mfsooc.org
562-833-8035
Support Our Troops
Bring Them Home Now!
Take Care of Them After They Get Home

Continuing the Work: Military Families Working Group

As you may have heard, in a few months MFSO, the non-profit organization, will officially close down. The bank account will be closed, the Board of Directors will disband, and the not-for-profit status will be ended – freeing MFSO of complicated tax, insurance, and other financial and other problems which have bogged down the Board over the last few years.

Fortunately, there is a group of MFSO members who have the energy and who are working to develop a plan so that we can continue as an all-volunteer organization, not as a non-profit. This newly restructured organization will allow military families to effectively move forward  with the mission statement MFSO has had since the build-up of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, “Support the troops, bring them home now, and take care of them when they get home.”

Under this plan, military families could continue to lobby members of congress locally and nationally, continue sharing our stories with the media, holding vigils, participating in protests against the war in Afghanistan, working to support families who are in crisis while their loved ones continue or consider joining the military, and working with other peace and justice groups locally and nationally.

At this point, we have a number of MFSO members who have unified with this goal in mind and plan to participate in a MilitaryFamilies working group. Because we are spread out across the country, our planning and coordination for now will be by conference phone calls and emails. If you would like to participate in this Military Families working group, please let us know right away. We would like to hear your suggestions regarding what work is the most essential work that needs to be done,  how you think we can do this work, how we can encourage the revitalization of local and national work, how we can bring in new members, and other things you think can help the Military Families working group move forward.

If you want to be part of this MilitaryFamilies working group, please send your name, e-mail, city and state, and phone number to mfso@mfso.org so that we can be in touch with you.

Thanks so much.

Pat Alviso, Jeff Merrick, Rossana Cambron, California
Military Families Speak Out, Orange County & South Bay Chapter
www.mfsooc.org
562-597-3980

mfso diverse group shot

Announcing the MFSO Oral History & Archiving Project

This summer MFSO will launch the Military Families Speak Out Oral History & Archiving Project, and we want you to be part of it!

The MFSO Oral History & Archiving Project will record and preserve the story of MFSO: the experiences of the families, allies, and staff that were a part of it and the lessons learned in the only organization in U.S. history in which military families spoke out against a war.

From July through September of 2013, we will collect stories, writings, pictures, and videos from as many current and former MFSO members as possible. We will interview members on their experience with and reflections on MFSO. We will collect physical memorabilia to store at the Swarthmore Peace Collection, an academic archive that chronicles movements for peace and justice. Stored artifacts from the movement can include everything from banners and buttons to photos, old paperwork, and meeting notes. MFSO’s oral histories will also be stored at the Swarthmore Peace Collection and on an easily accessible website.  Additionally, we are partnering with the StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative, a publicly-funded project which aims to tell the stories of the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their families.  Participants in the Oral History Project may have the option to participate in StoryCorps as well.

HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE:

Every military family holds an important piece of the history of MFSO, whether you were an active member, a spokesperson, attended an event, or felt connected through reading the emails.

There are a number of ways you can share your story:

We will also be reaching out to members individually for phone and in-person interviews, as well as arranging listening days in a number of cities.  If you’d like to arrange an interview or help organize a local listening day, please email us at mfsoarchives@gmail.com

The MFSO Oral History and Archiving Project is directed by former MFSO staff members Samantha Miller and Nikki Morse with help from co-founder Nancy Lessin and former board members Adele Kubein and Jack Amoureaux, and in collaboration with the current MFSO Board of Directors. We appreciate and look forward to your participation. If you have questions, please email us at mfsoarchives@gmail.com.

nancycharleyspeaking-full

Charley Richardson, ¡Presente!

Military Families Speak Out is deeply saddened by the death of co-founder Charley Richardson, who passed away Saturday, May 4th. Charley has been a beacon of hope and inspiration, a mentor and teacher, and a shoulder to cry on for so many of us in this movement and beyond.

The seeds of MFSO were sown in the summer of 2002 when Charley’s son, a U.S. Marine, was being deployed and it became clear he would most likely be ending up in Iraq. As life-long peace and labor activists, Charley, and his wife Nancy Lessin, knew they couldn’t sit by silently while their son was being sent into harm’s way, to a war that should not be happening, an illegal and immoral war of aggression. They brought a sign to anti-war protests with their son’s picture on it that said, “Our Son Is A Marine – Don’t Send Him to War for Oil!” Charley and Nancy were overwhelmed by the response they received to the power of their voice as a military family protesting the war.

At one of these rallies they met another a father whose son was facing deployment to Kuwait. Together, they formed Military Families Speak Out to organize and amplify the voices of military families in opposition to an invasion of Iraq. Just months later, Nancy and Charley spoke at a press conference, offering their home phone number for MFSO; within days, two hundred families from around the country joined the organization.

In February, 2003 Charley and Nancy were lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit against then-President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, calling for a temporary restraining order that would prevent the U.S. from invading Iraq until there was a congressionally mandated declaration of war. Three active-duty service members, other MFSO members and twelve Members of Congress were part of that lawsuit. The case went two rounds in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and finally failed on March 18, 2003. The bombs dropped on Baghdad the next day.

For the next two years MFSO existed in Charley and Nancy’s living room. On top of their day jobs as prominent labor activists, Nancy and Charley wrote grant proposals, helped members start chapters, trained families on how to speak to the media and pushed tirelessly to create a home for families like them, who had loved ones in the military and were opposed to the war. Families came to them with the same story. “Thank God I found you. I thought I was the only one! What can I do to be a part of this?”

In 2005, MFSO was able to rent an office and hire a small staff. The chapter network grew from 6 to over 30 chapters. MFSO members spoke at local, national and international press conferences; rallied and held vigils at the offices and homes of Senators and members of Congress; formed chapters on military bases and base towns; collected and delivered tens of thousands of letters, postcards and messages to elected officials; spoke at forums in churches, union halls, community centers, high schools and universities; appeared on “The Lehrer News Hour,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” National Public Radio, and CNN; and were featured in articles in The New York Times, Military Times, War Times, Stars and Stripes, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and other local, national and international press. MFSO helped to change the definition of what it meant to “support the troops,” as MFSO’s mantra “Support Our Troops – Bring Them Home NOW!” caught on across the country.

In May, 2007, Charley and Nancy received devastating news—Charley was diagnosed with a very advanced, aggressive cancer. Originally given a prognosis of 18 months to live, he defied the odds and continued to live, fight, and love to his fullest. He learned to take vacations, welcomed three dearly beloved grandchildren, and laughed and played with his growing family. Charley continued his work as a labor educator and MFSO leader through the ups and downs of his struggles with his illness, treatment, and declining health. Charley brought his all to his life work, till he could no longer work.

Charley passed away peacefully on May 4th, 2013 at home after a six-year battle with cancer, surrounded by his beloved wife and co-agitator Nancy, and their loved ones. Our best testament to the life and work of Charley Richardson is to continue his legacy in word and action. May we all hold close what he has given us and carry him with us in all that we do. Rest in power Charley — the power of a life well-lived and well-loved.

Charley’s impact on us all is beautifully stated by several MFSO members on a Facebook tribute page (where details about sharing condolences and donating in his honor are held, and where information will be shared about a Memorial to be planned for the summer):

Connie C:

“Charley & Nancy – I don’t think either of you realize what an impact you had on my life. When we first met (at Mike and Betsy’s) I was struggling – I had voted for W in 2000, my brother was in Afghanistan and I was confused. Charley’s gentle soul and kind spirit helped guide me. I found my voice – it was shaky – but I learned that I could speak – and to my amazement – people listened. Charley you were my teacher. Thank you for helping uncover the wise, peaceful, liberal, brave being that I really am!”

Phil & Linda W:

How grateful we are for the email you sent to us back in 2005. “Thank you” just does not seem to say enough for all you and Charley have given to us and to so many others. We are holding all of you within our hearts and sending loving, comforting thoughts your way. Thank you Charley for giving so much of yourself to right the wrongs, you will always be with us. Linda & Phil

Denise T:

Charley and Nancy, I met you at such an awful time in my life. My daughter was physically compromised and at war. After all the rejection I was facing because I hated the Iraq war, you embraced me, as you did so many of us, and you pointed us in the right direction. My prayers, my love, and my hugs from Georgia are with you. As I told you Charley, this picture (below) makes me smile. It’s my favorite picture from the anti Iraq war movement. I faded it because I can see the graphics on my desktop much better that way. It looks like you are saying “we’ve won!”. Charley and Nancy you both HAVE won. you have won my heart and the hearts of so many. I love you both more than there are words. Thank you for coming into my life.