Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) gets recognition from Stars and Stripes.

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883_120. The following article appeared in the Mideast edition of Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon funded newspaper serving our troops and military families around the world was sent to us by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and Veterans for Peace (VFP) San Diego organizer Jan Ruhman.

During the 1960s & 70s when Jan was in the Marines, he noted that VVAW would never have seen an article like this in Stars & Stripes. The article is about Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and their National Convention that took place at the University of Maryland, College Park campus earlier this month. It took place simultaneously with the Veterans For Peace National Convention, and Military Families Speak Out National Convention also held at College Park, MD.

Robert L. Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
GS-14, U.S. Civil Service-Retired
Veterans Advocacy Editor
Veterans Today News Network &
Our Troops News Ladder

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Anti-Iraq war veterans group formalizes opposition to Afghan war

As reported by Kevin Dougherty, in Stars and Stripes Mideast edition, last Sunday, August 23, 2009, the young Veterans group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) issued a media release opposing the Afghanistan War.

Dougherty notes that with the U.S. military presence in Iraq expected to end by 2011, an organization of current and former service members opposed to the Iraq war is widening its mandate to include opposition to Afghanistan.

At its annual convention in College Park, Md., in early August 2009, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) vigorously debated what the group’s stance should be on Afghanistan.

"Opposition to the Afghanistan war quietly became official policy earlier this year following an online membership poll. The vote was said to be close, though no details were publicly released," said Dougherty.





"A decision has been made in terms of our position, which is we are against it," said Jose Vasquez, executive director of IVAW and co-founder of the New York City chapter.

With that, leaders are "working out the way forward."

images_12 Since its founding in 2004, the IVAW has focused almost exclusively on Iraq, though members have been free to speak out for or against the war in Afghanistan. The organization, which has a national office in Philadelphia, estimates its membership to be at least 1,700, with roughly one-quarter of its members still in uniform. Most members, active duty or not, have not deployed to Afghanistan, said Devon Read (left), a Marine who wrote and introduced the resolution at the convention.

As is the case with Iraq, the existing IVAW resolution advocates "the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupying forces in Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people, and support (for) all troops and veterans working toward those ends."

[Additionally, the IVAW is not exclusively in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but have on their legislative agenda supporting full benefits and adequate health care for all service members returning from Afghanistan or Iraq tied for number one priority with ending the war(s) due to the cost in lives and dollars diverted from caring for all America’s Veterans. [VT. Ed]

rethinkafghanistan1
For now, the effort to develop a strategic approach to opposing the war in Afghanistan is being addressed at the local level. Among the most active on this front is the Los Angeles chapter, which Read heads. The L.A. chapter sponsors forums at which clips of a new documentary, Brave New Films "Rethink Afghanistan," are aired and discussed.

The meetings are intended to generate public and political support for IVAW’s position, which is that the continued presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is hurting, not helping matters.

"Chapters are trying to figure out where they want to go with this," Vasquez said. He added that IVAW members "don’t think Iraq was a good idea, and some of us think Afghanistan isn’t either."

Regardless the membership remains divided as any other Veterans group that is not entirely anti-war but question the motives of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the members who support the war in Afghanistan is Army Sgt. Selena Coppa, an active-duty military intelligence specialist based at Wiesbaden, Germany.

"The organization is kind of split on that," Coppa said.

At times, she added, the issue of whether to oppose the war in Afghanistan "ran the risk of tearing us apart. IVAW is like a family. You don’t want members leaving."

Vasquez said many members, such as Coppa, "view Afghanistan as the good war," based largely on its role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The notion of also opposing that war "met with a lot of debate," he said.

Devon Read, who initially backed the war in Afghanistan, characterized his endorsement as "blind support," a view that has changed over the past year.

"To me," Read said, "It feels like we are creating more enemies."

Robert L. Hanafin
Veterans Advocacy Editor
Veterans Today News Network &
Our Troops News Ladder

Questions or comments on the Stars and Stripes coverage of IVAW, ensure you read his article and go to Kevin Dougherty at Stars and Stripe Middle East Desk.

Author Details
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.
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