Category Archives: Member Blog

How Are We Supporting our Troops when 20 Veterans Die by Suicide Every Day?

Excerpts from the speech given by Mary Hladky, MFSO Steering Committee Member, on May 20th in Jefferson City, MO at a Poor People’s Campaign protest of militarism. Soon after Hladky
issued this critique, she and 16 others blocked a
street, were arrested, and were released.

I am Mary Hladky. My son, Ryan, was an Army
Infantry Officer. During his deployment in
Afghanistan, the troops experienced some of the
highest death and injury rates of the war.
Today I want to talk to you about the war economy
and the incalculable harm this obsession does to all
Americans, and especially soldiers.

War drains the treasury of money. The Costs of
War Project at Brown University says US wars over
the past 16 years have cost $5.6 trillion. Our
officials justify this spending in the name of
national security. There is little left, it seems, for the
welfare of the people.

These same officials defend these massive expenses
as part of “supporting the troops”. But supporting our
troops should mean bringing them home and
taking care of them when they return.

How are we supporting the troops when many
military families need public assistance such as
food stamps to make ends meet, while defense
contractors rake in record profits?

There are 3 million veterans of the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan. These soldiers have seen more
combat than veterans of any other wars. Many have
experienced moral injury – a violation of a person’s
moral values, core beliefs. The shame, guilt, and
torturous remorse that becomes moral injury often
results in suicide.

How are we supporting our troops when 20
veterans, from all wars, die by suicide every day?
Today, here and across the country, and all over
the world, our voices declare our work for a more
peaceful world, the hope of a movement; to realize
that true security is not measured by the size of our
military, but the welfare of our people.

 

 

 

 

Just before the arrest of Mary Hladky, Michael
McPhearson, and other activists
Photo by Bennette Dibben, PeaceWorks

Afghanistan and Perpetual War: Everyone Loses

October 7th is a grim reminder of 17 years of war in Afghanistan – a war that has brought death, destruction and grievous injury to so many, with little, if any, success and no conclusion.

Most Americans cannot explain why we are currently at war in seven countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Niger.People don’t know and are shocked to learn that U.S. Special Forces were in 149 countries last year. There are 193 countries in the world. That’s a military presence in 77% of the world’s countries.

Perpetual War has become the new “normal” and the American people barely bat an eye.

Unfortunately, the American public is totally disengaged from the country’s wars and its military interventions. Less than 1% of Americans serve in the military. The rest of Americans have been asked to sacrifice nothing. There is no draft and since 9/11 no increased taxes to pay for these wars. With no “skin in the game”, and the wars rarely covered in the media, it is easier for people, with very busy lives, to just accept that the government is keeping them safe, no need to question.

Since 9/11 U.S. wars have not achieved their military objectives; they do not bring peace, democracy or freedom. They do not make the lives of the people in these countries better. The American people are told that the U.S. military is a force for good, but in reality, it has brought chaos and increasing terrorism to the Middle East and the region.

Since 9/11 the U.S. has created a vast national-security state surveilling Americans.

Militarism abroad has gone hand in hand with the militarization of U.S. borders and of poor communities across the country.
Military weapons from our wars are returning home to local police departments to be used against brown and black communities. The weapons used on the streets of Baghdad are literally the same weapons used on the streets of Ferguson. Young black males are 9x more likely to be killed by police officers than other Americans. This is the same racism that goes together with the war against immigrants and refugees.

War creates millions of refugees. The UN reports that approximately half of the world’s refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. All places the U.S. military has intervened.

And the most dangerous blowback, for every living thing on the planet, is the increased production of nuclear weapons and the devastating effects war has on climate change.

Wars since 9/11 have little to do with protecting Americans but are all about the immensely profitable business of war. We are told that our massive war spending is necessary to support the troops. But, in fact, it supports defense contractors making record profits.

How are we supporting the troops when there is a move to privatize the VA, so corporations can pillage the system for profit, instead of appropriately funding VA services to handle the ever-increasing number of veterans who need care?

How are we supporting the troops when the military knowingly exposed untold numbers of service men and women in Iraq & Afghanistan to deadly toxins through the extensive use of open-air burn pits instead of ensuring waste was properly handled?

Supporting our troops means bringing them home now and taking care of them when they return.

Instead of instigating wars of choice, America should have been focusing on poverty in America, maintaining our infrastructure, climate change, and understanding cyber-threats (like shutting down the electrical grid).

After 17 years of unwinnable wars, our only accomplishments are more terrorist cells and more hatred of America. These are the choices our country has made and they basically come down to hurting people – here at home and abroad.

We need to ask ourselves: Who Are We as a Nation?

And When Will We Stand Up to Change the Direction of our Country?

Mary Hladky
Military Families Speak Out

Stop The Deportation of Veterans!

 by Robert Vivar, Unified US Deported Veterans Resource Center ​and MFSO Steering Committee

August 1, the Unified US Deported Veterans Resource Center welcomed USMC Cpl.Robert Cano, another deported combat hero. The US DVR Center says that it is an injustice to discard those that should instead be honored for their service.. Our call is to LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND. Please help us support these forgotten veterans by leaving messages of support for Cpl. Cano at:Unified US Deported Veterans on Facebook or supporting their families here in the US. 

The US DVA Center in Tijuana, Mexico provides the following help for deported veterans in California:

*Assistance with citizenship applications

*Assistance for deported veterans to have their cases reviewed

*Colef, (Colegio de la Frontera Norte) in Tijuana sponsors focus groups for deported persons that are interested in obtaining information on re-validating their US education and furthering their education in Mexico. There are plans for at least two focus groups – one for US military deported Veterans and another for those working in Call Centers, since without a higher education, your progress in the workplace is very limited.

*Emergency housing and employment assistance

MFSO Members, Immigrant Rights Groups, and Friends:

YOU can help the families of deported veterans still living in the U.S.:

*Help with housing or legal aid

*Ask members of Congress to introduce legislation to keep the promise to veterans that they will not be deported.

*We can put you in contact with families of deported veterans in these cities even if you don’t live there: Modesto, CA Los Angeles, CA Riverside CA San Diego, CA Phoenix, AZ Chicago, IL Las Vegas, NV Brownsville, TX Houston, TX Ontario, Canada You can help the families in many ways (depending on their needs), such as sending or bringing food, school supplies, and clothing, helping with housing, and providing legal aid. Your support and friendship will be welcomed.

If you are interested in helping the families of deported veterans, please email Robert Vivar: dvsh.rob at gmail.com.

Military Families Speak Out in the Poor People’s Campaign!

Many of us in MFSO were very heartened and encouraged to see how MFSO, Veterans for Peace, and About Face ( IVAW), collaborated to support the Poor People’s Campaign, Phase 1, last May and June. The National Poor People’s Campaign is a call for moral revival that supports Dr. King’s vision to oppose the 4 pillars he identified that uphold the ills of society: Poverty, Racism, the Environment and the War Economy. Dr. Barber, the national organizer of the PPC today, laid out a plan that for 40 days we would confront each pillar by organizing direct actions at each state capitol, as was successfully practiced in South Carolina with Moral Mondays. An essential part of the campaign included a call for people to risk arrest. Over 35 states had actions that resulted in what has been recognized as the largest mass demonstration across the US with over 2,000 people being arrested across the country.

MFSO, VFP and AF focused on week 3-the week on militarism and the war. In California, 20 MFSO, VFP members and supporters were arrested in Sacramento for disruptions that resulted in the halting of the State Assembly while in session. To do this, it required weeks of coordinating at many different levels. Three vans of participants drove up from S. CA, while others drove many miles across the state to participate. With the help of Veterans for Peace LA and Orange County, we set up an exhibit of crosses representing our troops who have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to represent the countless innocent civilians who also died, the PPC Arts committee helped us build a clothesline of torn garments and a display of empty shoes. Many of our members held up posters of of loved ones and set up informational booths-all on the capitol lawn! A speak out was held on the steps with MFSO members Tim Kahlor and Laurie Loving and VFP member Anthony Palacios among the speakers.

The goal of the direct action in Sacramento was to get our message heard and stop business as usual at the state capitol. MFSO members Tim, Laurie, Pat, Rossana and Arturo Cambron, Jeff Merrick, Kathleen Hernandez VFP Associate member and other VFP members and dozens of supporters boldly took up a whole section in the State Assembly. We held up posters of our loved ones who died due to war, suicide, substance abuse and deportation and interrupted the session by shouting the names of these victims of war and demanding the end of state tax breaks to those who support war, that we bring the National Guard home from the border, stop the privatization of the VA and provide housing and support for veterans. Some State Assembly members stood up and applauded . We shut down the State Assembly but 21 people were arrested that day including MFSO members Laurie Loving and Pat Alviso, and Kathleen Hernandez.. They were kept overnight in the Sacramento jail, but all charge were eventually dropped.

All of this was made possible due to the generosity, hard work and masterful organizational skills of MFSO members Laurie and Russell Loving, who provided housing and meals, media outreach and leadership for two of the six weeks. What was accomplished is immeasurable – groups that had never worked together before organized an unforgettable message with a collaboration that all wish to continue implementing for Phase 2 of the Poor People’s Campaign.

By Pat Alviso, MFSO CA, MFSO National Coordinator and Mary Hladky MFSO MO and MFSO Steering Committee