Veterans and military families speak out


“Why I’m marching on March 20”

Veterans and military families are joining with tens of thousands of others who will be marching on Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 20.  

If you are a veteran, active-duty service member or a member of a military family and would like to join the veterans, active-duty service members and military families contingent, click here.

We are people who had little to no opportunity to get a college education. We are people who wanted to take our children to the doctor without going bankrupt. We are people who wanted to avoid joining the masses of unemployed and underpaid. Many of us believed the lifetime of indoctrination that told us the U.S. military protects our families here at home, and helps the poor and oppressed abroad.

The reality is that we—the soldiers, sailors, airmen/women, and marines—are never sent to fight for any just cause. We are, quite simply, the muscle for the banks and for Wall Street to expand their reach all over the world.

This reality cannot be hidden forever, and every day more of us are waking up. Every day it becomes more apparent that these are not wars for “national defense” or anyone’s “freedom”; these are wars for empire. On March 20, we will be marching on Washington. And the more people that join us, the more we can inspire other soldiers to do the same, and the closer we get to ending these criminal wars. – Michael Prysner
Iraq war veteran
Founding member, March Forward!

Three times as a mother, I have seen my sons off to war. I have embraced them on their return to ensure they really made it back. The pain and horror of what our family has gone through is a shadow to the horrors of war they have endured. They have served their country at a great cost to their soul. Military Families represent only 1.3 percent of the population, and our voices alone will not stop this tragedy. We are relying on everyone to step up and be heard to represent us and the millions of Iraqis, Afghans and other victims of our imperial nation that do not have a voice.

Whether there is a “drawdown” in Iraq or increased use of drones to reduce troop deaths, the victims of our violence are still suffering. Are we supposed to be appeased knowing that, in a year, there will be 50,000 of our sons and daughters in Iraq instead of 135,000? As mothers, when our sons and daughters are sent back in flag-draped coffins, we do not ask if they were one in 135,000 or one in 50,000. They are still just as dead. When our sons and daughters come home, broken in mind and soul, trying to kill themselves with many succeeding, we do not ask if they were one in 135,000 or one in 50,000. They are still just as broken, just as lost. Even with a reduction of forces in Iraq, “if conditions on the ground permit,” our sons and daughters will be sent to occupy Afghanistan and expand violence into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Our children will be just as dead, just as broken serving in Afghanistan as in Iraq. The Afghanistan and Pakistan women and children will be just as dead.

We must continue the struggle. We must be louder than ever, as you will hear many tell us to shut up and go away. Don’t tell the public the truth that there has been no change … that we should not challenge the leaders of our country because they are now labeled Democrats rather than Republicans. As we have fewer voices, we must be louder now than ever before.

Join me and other military families on March 20 in Washington, D.C., as we unite to oppose these occupations. Our message has not changed: Bring them home NOW!

– Tina Richards
Military mother

The real question is: Why not march in D.C. this March?  We’ve encountered more civilian deaths in Afghanistan than ever this past year.  U.S. incursions into Pakistan and now talk of invading Yemen indicates that that the so-called “global war on terror” is far from ending. And this means, of course, the deepening of the military-industrial complex here in the U.S. to feed the imperialist war machine.

And why not mention Haiti while we’re at it? After all, there has been a silent—and at times quite vocal—war against our revolutionary brethren in Haiti since the Haitian Revolution, and now the U.S. pledges to send $100 million in aid for 3 million people? How much is spent A DAY in Afghanistan?

– Margaret Stevens
National Guard veteran
Member, March Forward!

Trying to stop a chest wound from gurgling, wheezing, bleeding … Pretending not to see the kid’s eyes go mad with fear and pain … Wrapping shredded, dangling stumps that moments ago were arms … Turning a once healthy body of a young soldier from side to side, every four hours, for the rest of his life, trying and keep ahead of the bed sores that eat away flesh like leprosy … Reassuring a young woman she can live normally—really—but she’ll have to crap into a colostomy bag the rest of her life … Having to carefully tackle that 18-year-old on the locked psych ward when the monsters in his head take over again …

These, my friends, are the “lucky” ones, the ones “only wounded,” who came back home to a health system no one had bombed back into the 18th century. This is what war is all about. This is what we must protest on March 20! These are the horrors we must put to an end! This is why you and I don’t have the option of getting discouraged, or being too busy, or suffering from “protest fatigue.” Join us on March 20! Brothers and sisters, our humanity demands it!

– Mike Ferner
Navy Hospital Corpsman (1969-73)
President, Veterans For Peace

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
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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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