Monday, August 22, 2011

The fallen and veterans issues

August 3, 2005, 14 marines were killed in Haditha. One of those killed was Lance Cpl Edward August Schroeder, known ot his family and friends as "Augie." The 23-year-old from Ohio was due to return home in October 2005. Six years after his death, his parents are still dealing with their loss. Peter Zicari (Cleveland Plain Dealer -- link has text and video) reports Rosemary Palmer (his mother) and Paul Schroeder (his father) believe that the attacks on 9-11 led their son to enlist. From the article:

Still, he [Paul Schroeder] believes that were it not for 9/11, his son probably wouldn't have enlisted, and wouldn't have been aboard that amphibious vehicle when it hit an improvised bomb six weeks before the 23-year-old was due to come home from Iraq.
The crimson-and-gold Marine flag still flies from their front door despite their open criticism of the war after their son's death. They say it's the war, not the military, that bothers them.
"The Marines always treated us very well, and they're accepting of our views," Palmer said. "They might not like them, but they accept them, and us, despite that, and I honor that."

Jason Moon also served in Iraq. He's used music to address what he experienced there. Adam Smith (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- link has text and video) reports on Adam and his new CD Trying to Find My Way Home (which you can download from Amazon for $8.99). From the article:

"All of these songs that I had written are about what it feels like to come home," he said. "Each song is like a little demon, a little monster that had been haunting me."
Moon began playing and performing in his hometown of Eagle River and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He hosted weekly open mic sessions, wrote dozens of songs and played hundreds of shows from 1995 until he was deployed in 2003. Being in Iraq at the beginning of the war was traumatic and confusing, he said, and performing for the troops was a way of coping.
After returning home, Moon said, he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Although songwriting is one of his greatest joys, he found himself unable to complete a single song.

Staying with the topic of healing, if you can express it, you don't necessarily cure it, but you can recognize it and you can name it and that in of itself can be a huge help. Iraq Veterans Against the War announces the Veterans and Community Conference: Coming Home Through Art and Dialogue to be held by Warrior Writers on September 9th through 11th in Chicago:

Warrior Writers hosts this powerful gathering of veterans, artists, supporters and healers focused on art-making and wellness. The conference will feature writing and art-making workshops, seminars on how to build healthy relationships between veterans and allies, and discussion panels exploring local support for veterans. Holistic Healing sessions will be offered free of charge to veterans throughout the conference. Veterans will be building a creative community around their shared experiences. Our overall goal is to create space and community for veterans and their supporters to engage in healing and the re-integration process together. Visual artists are especially encouraged to attend.

Documentation Teams will be working (all day). Contact us to help:


Working with Veterans 101- an arts-based workshop for civilian allies
This workshop is centered around building beneficial veteran-civilian relationships. We will explore participant's perceptions about and relationships with veterans. We’ll utilize creative writing/art-making, dialogue, participatory learning and active listening processes, as well as, the artwork of Veteran artists to guide our discussions. Some areas of learning & investigation will include: veterans’ issues and experiences, PTSD, challenges/benefits of working with veterans, and specific information about healthy ways of engaging veterans. This workshop will provide a foundation from which civilian allies can build healthy and sustainable relationships with veterans and move toward creative collaboration. We also require any volunteers interested in facilitation or arts collaboration through Warrior Writers to attend a training with us. Art/reflections from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans’ Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural.

Veterans Writing Workshop
Our workshops are designed to assist veterans to share stories, opinions, and ideas, using prompts to enable participants to do productive writing/reflecting/story-telling/art-making on the spot where they learn by doing. Prompts and discussions cover a variety of military issues and experiences such as joining the military, homecoming, deployment, relationships, healing, growth, anger, etc. A crucial aspect of the workshop is that the discussions and writings are guided by participation. Veterans’ support for each other is a key aspect of collaboration. A highlight for many veterans is having a space to air pent-up thoughts with others who understand and a sense of empowerment in the ability to tell their own stories. The workshop is for any military veteran regardless of their experiences with writing, combat, art, deployment, etc. Writing from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans’ Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural.

Visual Arts Collaboration Session/Community Creativity Session
Veterans and civilians come together to explore writing done by veterans in earlier workshops. Writing will be shared with the group as a whole before dividing into smaller sections to focus on particular artistic areas. Some groups will work to create visual representations of the writing, while others will focus on editing the work, or preparing it to be performed on stage. The visual creations and performances will be utilized for the Veterans’ Mural and related activities,however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural. Community members must have attended an allies training.

Writers Workshop/Facilitator’s Training
Interested in possibly running a writing workshop in your area? Maybe looking to do closer work with veterans in the future? Warrior Writers founder Lovella Calica will lead a training for veterans and allies interested in facilitating workshops. Having attended a Warrior Writers allies training is a MUST for civilians interested in attending this workshop. The format is the same as a regular WW workshop, but with added tips, conversations and a DIY guide; essentially, you see it in action. Attendance to this workshop does not authorize one to lead workshops using the WW name, but is a stepping stone in the process. Art/reflections from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans’ Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural.


Healing practitioners in the skills of acupuncture, yoga, reiki, massage therapy, and other areas will be offering free sessions to veterans throughout both days. If you are a healer, contact us to help:

Also on veterans issues, the New York Times editorial board offers the strongly worded "More Excuses and Delays From the V.A." this morning.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Got A Vacation To Take Care Of First" went up last night.
On the latest Law and Disorder Radio -- airs this morning at 10:00 a.m. on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) devote the hour to exploring abuse in the Pennslvania state prison system with guests Bret Grote, Liz Springer and Theresa Shoatz. We'll close with this from Nat Hentoff's "Obama bans War Criminals, except our own" (ICH):

The United States also signed the Geneva Conventions, which mandates and please pay attention to this, President Obama each contracting party "shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches (of the Geneva Conventions), and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts."
This means that you, President Obama, are obligated to bring the foregoing list of war criminals during the Bush presidency into our courts or, before that, be subject to an independent criminal investigation. Next week, reasons to believe that you and your administration have also been violating the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against
Torture and U.S. laws.
Also, Americans of all political parties, faiths and backgrounds are themselves obligated to insist that this administration, like Bush-Cheney's stop preventing lawsuits on these war crimes from even being heard in our courts under the perversion of "the state secrets" doctrine.
We owe it to our next generation and those following to take responsibility for our worldwide shame of having become a torture nation. As we condemn other nations' crimes against their citizens Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, et al our government makes it easier for those countries to escape accountability by utterly denying our own complicity in the cruel, inhumane, degrading torture that has given terrorists around the world so valuable a means for recruiting more terrorists.
Not one of the aspiring Republican candidates for the presidency next year has said a word about this. And Obama cherishes their silence.

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