Speech by MFSO Member Nancy Nygard at the Veterans For Peace National Convention, August 2010


I am so glad to see everyone here.

I am a very proud member of Veterans For Peace. My husband and I joined VFP in 2005. At the same time we joined Military Families Speak Out.

Our son Joe had joined the army in 2003 and by 2005 was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. We were against the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan and knew we had to speak out, act out, rise up. Doing
nothing was not an option.

In February of 2006 Joe was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. It was my first deployment also. I didn’t know what to do or what to think. Why was I crying all the time? Why was I so angry at all the other
mom’s in the supermarket? Why did I have such hatred of the assholes with hummers?

MFSO helped me understand that it was ok to cry and that anger could be turned into action. They comforted me and held my hand and I knew I never had to say I’m sorry. They understood that I wanted to hear all the news but I didn’t want to hear all the news. They knew about the sleepless nights and I know they remembered holding their babies in their arms and never imagining having to let them go to war. They were and still are the sanity in my insanity that surely goes on for me and so many other military families.

My son Joe was stop lossed in September of 2006 until February 2007. His tour of duty was extended another 4 months. He spent 16 months in Afghanistan. During his deployment 71 soldiers from his brigade were either killed in action or died in accidents. 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division carved out the northern most outposts in Afghanistan. Two years later the army would begin closing them down. Outposts where my son said “good soldiers died”.

In September of 2007 Joe received his honorable discharge and left the army after serving 4 years on a 3 year enlistment. Joe enrolled in college full time, had a great paying part time job, had a daughter and
a son and the hope of change that was to come with a new president. Joe was proud of his service to his country and we are so proud of him.

Two years went by. Two years! In December of 2009 President Obama gave his surge on Afghanistan speech and the next day Fed-ex showed up at our door with orders for Joe to report for duty off the individual
ready reserve for deployment of no more than 400 days…to Iraq!

Thoughtless people told me he’s lucky he’s in Iraq like they used to tell me he’s lucky he’s in Afghanistan.

As of this month our combat commitment in Iraq has ended. I guess the combat infantry battalion my son is assigned to is there on vacation as are the entire 3rd infantry division, 3000 man brigades from the 4th
infantry division, Dave Cline’s old outfit the 25th infantry division, 2 combat aviation brigades and 2 national guard infantry brigades, all on vacation in sunny Iraq!

Standing guard over a stalled convoy, Joe writes, “after we dropped off our load at a little spot outside Tallil we pulled to the side in a friendly area and waited for the rest of our guys to catch up. We dismounted and smoked and joked for a little bit. That’s when the kids came up. I always liked talking to the local kids in Afghanistan. Their honesty and innocence about the only pure things in a shitty, shitty place. Here it is the same way. These poor children have known nothing but death and destruction in their young lives and even if after we leave, their country turns to peace, they will forever be scarred from the horrors they have seen. Life for them has always been about survival. Seeing little girls the age of my little daughter, running
alongside our convoy, their clothes dirty and their feet bare, offering anything, even themselves for just a bottle of water breaks my heart. Back on the base, eating ice cream and pizza and buffalo wings, just
makes the whole experience of war more disgusting. As these people starve to death, partly because of us, we eat like kings”.

To a certain extent our participation in MFSO and VFP has been a selfish act because we think that the American people, in spite of their yellow ribbons, don’t give a damn about American soldiers, but you do! I’ve found a community that not only believes in world peace but respects the courage and sacrifice of soldiers and their families. I’m so glad I’m not alone. Thank you Military Families Speak Out and
Veterans For Peace!