Category Archives: Member Blog

Take Out Your iPhone!

Take Out Your iPhone!

By Paula Rogovin, MFSO, Bergen County NJ

When I spoke at the Cranford, NJ Peace Fair on August 6, I started by telling about my distress during my son’s two deployments to Iraq, my friend, John Fenton’s, distress when he watched his son’s head shrink before he died in the hospital after being struck by an IED in Iraq, my friends, Kevin and Joyce Lucey’ distress when their son, Jeffrey, hung himself after he was told to return to the VA for help after he dealt with his alcohol abuse, and my friend, Marcia Westbrook’s distress, when she received the call that her son in the Special Forces, Tyler, had died by suicide.

I asked people in the crowd, “Why did the U.S. intervene in Iraq?” People shouted, “Oil!” Then I asked people to take out their iphones and hold them up high. So, why is the U.S. involved in Afghanistan and why is President Trump considering sending 3,000-5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan? Several people shouted, “Minerals!” This was a Peace Fair and many of the people read recent articles in the news. Yup, President Trump is concerned that we hadn’t really secured the oil contracts in Iraq and the mineral rights in Afghanistan during the time of Cheney/Bush. Now, he’s talking about securing the mineral contracts in Afghanistan.

If you read excerpts from the articles below, you will see that there is lots of lithium – which used in iPhones and other devices. We know that it’s not OUR oil or OUR minerals. To sacrifice the lives and well-being of U.S. service members and their families for profit, for greed, is totally unacceptable!

I told the crowd at the Cranford Peace Fair that Military Families Speak Out says: NO military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan! Bring the troops home NOW!

The crowd agreed and shouted: Bring the troops home NOW!

Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals (New York Times). (By MARK LANDLER and JAMES RISENJULY 25, 2017
“The lure of Afghanistan as a war-torn Klondike is well established: In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan — a challenge that was stymied by rampant corruption, as well as security problems and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads.

None of these hurdles has been removed in the last eight years, according to former officials, and some have worsened. They warn that the Trump administration is fooling itself if it believes that extracting minerals is a panacea for Afghanistan’s myriad ills…..

But for Mr. Trump, as a businessman, it is arguably the only appealing thing about Afghanistan. Officials said he viewed mining as a “win-win” that could boost that country’s economy, generate jobs for Americans and give the United States a valuable new beachhead in the market for rare-earth minerals, which has been all but monopolized by China….. Mr. Silver, the chemical executive, may head an effort to maximize the rights for American companies to extract these minerals, according to a senior official.”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 25, 2017
“Here is part of the list: “gold, copper, lithium,uranium, iron ore, cobalt, natural gas and oil. Afghanistan’s resources could make it one of the richest mining regions in the world.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).
“The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys…..

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)
Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

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:
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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, commited suicide at his home. Tyler was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado.

We immediately informed our White House 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 Continues Work, Despite Uncertain Times

Military Families Speak Out members are concerned after the Presidential election. There is great uncertainty around a Trump presidency and what it will mean for military members, veterans, and their families.

Our nonpartisan group is concerned about the endless wars that the United States has involved our military.  President Obama and numerous military officials have repeatedly stated there is no military solution in the Middle East and surrounding area, yet war has been the government’s main response. Military statements by President-Elect Trump are often vague, contradictory or unknown. A review of the individuals being considered for cabinet positions indicate an increased militaristic approach.

MFSO continues to call for: No U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and now Yemen. MFSO and the whole peace movement must stand strong against policies that call for more violence and war.

We call for continued efforts for diplomacy and humanitarian aid. In addition, we know that xenophobic rhetoric & hate speech only exacerbates the situation and sends a false message that  we are at war with Islam, which in turn only leads to more hatred from civilians in the Middle East who are mostly Muslim. It also gives ISIS the propaganda they need to continue attracting more anti-American recruits.

We have so many concerns. We need to be bold. We are extending an invitation to all members to get re-involved in the work of MFSO and reach out to other like-minded military families. There are many ways to get involved. We need help from every member if we are to end these wars once and for all.  Please reach out to other military families who are currently in the military – they need support and have a story to tell!

MFSO continues to call for quality health and mental health care for veterans and military families within the Veterans Administration. No privatization of the VA. We continue to demand education, jobs, housing, and other services for veterans. As always, we support the troops, want them home now and work hard to take care of them while abroad and when they return home.  MFSO is a 501c3 non-profit and does not endorse any political candidate. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or gender. Please consider a tax deductible donation at this time.