A sad loss…

April 8 update:  Good article in the LBCC Commuter paper. A memorial is set for this Thuqrsday, Apr. 13, 4:30pm at LBCC, Albany. More details TBA.

Our VFP chapter and local Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) branch are mourning the loss of our newest and youngest member, Dakota Tyger. Dakota took his own life on April 4, 2017 at his home in Albany, Oregon.

From Dakota’s Facebook page

This was a remarkable man, vastly more mature, world savvy and well read than his twenty one years would suggest. In the short time we knew him, he expressed sincere empathy with, and understanding of, the plight of oppressed and working folk.

We cannot speculate about what persuaded Dakota to end his life, but his death is tallied along with the roughly twenty veterans who take their lives every single day.

We knew this was a special guy when he took the microphone during the Q&A session following a recent presentation by Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Although the incidents in question predated his enlistment in the Army, Dakota wanted to apologize for the 2010 wanton murders of innocent Afghan civilians by what was known in this Army unit as the “Kill Team.”

We quickly sought an opportunity to get to know Dakota better and over coffee we learned of his interest in joining both Veterans For Peace and the Industrial Workers of the World.

Dakota soon took time away from his studies at Linn-Benton Community College and his favorite pastime of weight lifting to attend the Corvallis-Albany IWW event known as Wobbly Class Act and an IWW membership meeting. He was very interested in local activism and other ways to express his solidarity with, and empathy for, workers struggling under the yoke of the capitalist system.

Despite our short time together, we gained immense respect and admiration for this peace-loving veteran and his loss is felt very deeply.

Dakota Thomas Tyger, Presente!

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Corvallis honors Dr. King and the “Beyond Vietnam” speech

April 4, 2017

Photos of today’s rally commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

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Memorial Events in Honor of Military Veteran and Water Protector killed by the Police Last Month

At the intersection of war resistance and environmental justice, we sadly report the death of our Brother, Jim Marker — Presenté!

Sabal Trail Resistance #StopSabalTrail #NoMorePipelines

Honoring the Life and Mourning the Loss of Jim Marker

james-markerJames “Jim” Leroy Marker, 66, military veteran, father, humanitarian, environmentalist, water protector. Killed by Citrus County Sheriff officers on February 26, 2017.

Please join Sabal Trail Resistance (STR), Vets For Peace and other activists in honoring James “Jim” L. Marker by continuing to stand against the oil and gas pipelines that he lost his life fighting on Feb 26, 2017.

Community Remembering on Sunday, March 26, 1pm at the Pruitt Memorial site in Halpata Tastanaki Preserve, on mile north of the Withlacoochee River. Enter at Pruitt Trailhead, off of SR 484. Park in picnic area, hike 0.5 miles to memorial site.(Please bring a song, story or poem to share, along with food or beverage to share.)

Demonstration at Dunnellon Compressor Station construction site on Monday, March 27, 10 a.m. Located along SR 200. Click here for map image.

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4th Year Anniversary of the Drones Quilt Project

Please check out the ‘Exhibit Photos’ menu tab and ‘The Exhibit on Tour’ for upcoming exhibit dates.

drones quilt project

Maezol Khan by Toby Blome

The Drones Quilt Project was created 4 years ago as a way to remember the thousands of people who have been murdered by missiles launched from American combat drones. The use of combat drones is immoral, illegal and ineffective, yet the U.S. continues to use them, killing countless people whose names they don’t know, and don’t want to know.
Combat drones were first used by President Bush, then expanded rapidly during the Obama administration. Recently President Trump gave carte blanch to the CIA to target and kill people with drones.
As long as people continue to be murdered by drones, the Drones Quilt Project will continue in an effort to educate the public, and to remember the victims, named and unnamed.

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Speaking tour of Oregon and California starting next week!

We’re really looking forward to the visit of Reiner Braun and Kevin Martin. Please join us for these discussions.

PEACE ACTION'S GROUNDSWELL

International Peace Bureau Co-President Reiner Braun, a longtime leader in the German and European peace movements, and Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund President Kevin Martin will be on a speaking and organizing tour with local peace groups and activists in Oregon and California starting next Tuesday, March 14. Please come on out if you are nearby, and spread the word to friends, family or colleagues who might be interested.

Corvallis, March 14-15

International Security and Nuclear Weapons in the Trump Years
– a public lecture with Reiner Braun and Kevin Martin
Tuesday, March 14,  7:00 p.m.
Location:  Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis, in the Social Hall; 2945 NW Circle Blvd, Corvallis; parking lot available.

March 15, 11-1 p.m.
Location: Oregon State University Memorial Union, 2501 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331 MU #213 Pan Afrikan Room is reserved from 11-1 p.m.
Bring your own lunch or snack and…

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Military Recruiting in the United States – a book by Pat Elder

A must read for those concerned with the increasingly heavy presence img_1043-1of military recruiters in our schools and at community events. This should be particularly interesting to parents of school-age youth, who are offered minimal information on how much the military is targeting their students.

Military recruiting is sure to become more aggressive, for two reasons:

  • President Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to increase the number of people in uniform, and
  • The economy is improving slowly, which means more civilian job opportunities and fewer prospects for military recruiters.

An excerpt from the book website:

Military Recruiting in the United States, a new book by Pat Elder, provides a fearless and penetrating description of the deceptive practices of the U.S. military as it recruits American youth into the armed forces. The long-time antiwar activist exposes the underworld of American military recruiting in this explosive and consequential book. The book describes how recruiters manage to convince youth to enlist. It details a sophisticated psy-ops campaign directed at children.

A review of Elder’s book (by Bart Bolger of VFP Corvallis) at Amazon:

As a 24-year military veteran and member of Veterans For Peace, I found a calling to do counter recruiting work at local high schools. I have my own personal views on the application of military forces and the form of their existence. But my concern with military recruiting has always been the lack of information with which students and their parents are expected to make a life-changing decision, that of joining the military.
Potential enlistees need facts and they are not getting them from recruiters nor the PR campaign the Pentagon employs to sell its product.
Pat Elder explains why. He has done an amazing job of documenting the facts on the military recruiting system and applicable laws and federal policy. This book provides a wealth of resources and strategies for dealing with the well-oiled recruiting machine. Mr. Elder’s citations are well researched and very useful as a guide for even the most experienced counter recruiter. I learned a lot from this book and plan to put it to use as we reformulate our local approach to counter recruiting.
Parents of high schoolers need to know that the Pentagon consciously conspires to abridge student privacy (as a means of enriching the recruiter’s contact data), misleads the public and school administrators, and even risks public health (see the chapter on lead residue from shooting ranges) in order to obtain sufficient numbers of new recruits.
I also highly recommend this book for high school guidance counselors and school administrators.

See our Truth in Recruiting links in the menu bar above for more info and please contact us if you would like to help with our local Corvallis-Albany TiR project.

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Veterans confront a system that ignores them

jan-2017-homeless-vet

By MITCH USMC05-09, Deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006

Originally posted at Socialist Action.

Veterans are tired. They are tired of a system that no longer listens to them, tired of longer deployments, tired of a medical system that takes days or months to respond. I have buried more friends to drug overdoses, drunk driving, and suicide than during my deployment to Iraq.

In 2012 military suicides surpassed military combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hear stories about how even after Congress made a law to stop the military from kicking out members with mental health issues, the Army discharged more than 22,000 soldiers suffering from TBI or PTSD. We see veterans stripped of their GI Bill benefits, stripped of their rights to use the VA, and unable to find a job if they were deprived of an honorable discharge.

Most members of Congress give speeches and implore the American population to support the troops, but nothing changes. I see my brothers and sisters suffering from a high unemployment rate, high rates of suicide, and homelessness. Those who stay in the military are emotionally and physically stretched thin with constant deployments to war zones.

The United States has been directly at war in the Middle East for almost 16 years. Yet, less than three quarters of one percent of the U.S. population has served in those wars. Washington’s war-making has fallen on the shoulders of so few. So, we come home to a country that does not understand us and has almost no reference for where we have been and what we have done.

We hear platitudes from the residents of our hometowns thanking us for our service, but those residents understand almost nothing about what our service entailed. We are marched out and honored at every major sporting event, but if you would have a conversation with the majority of the fans that are there, you would discover that they have no idea what they are honoring.

We are isolated and revered, meant to be put on a shelf and then taken down when America needs to be reminded of how great it is.

We also see no end to these wars. The last “progressive” president ran on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but launched military operations in Yemen and Libya, and upped the drone assassinations in Pakistan. His right-wing opponents preach that we should have boots on the ground in Syria and in Africa.

It is no wonder that we see the military and veterans flock to known “anti-war “candidates, people like Ron Paul. There was fervor for Ron Paul in 2008; I do not think most veterans understood his economic policy at all. What appealed to them was the promise of no more foreign intervention and getting the government out of your bedroom.

Of course, none of these Democratic and Republican party politicians plan to actually bring the troops home. Nor have any of them truly taken up our most basic needs. Everyone knows on some level that politicians are liars and celebrate us only when it is convenient to make a point.

But because we remain disconnected from and unheard by the majority of the American population, because we continue to see ourselves used as propaganda and see our epidemics of suicide and addiction ignored, many veterans embraced Trump.

Trump came along and said one thing that brought much of the veteran community to his side. He went on stage and said, directly, “Veterans are getting screwed.”

Veterans live day in and day out in a society that does not recognize just how terrible our situation is. So all it took for many to back Trump was that one loudly proclaimed and very true statement.

There has been a lot of good discussion about why many blue-collar workers in the rust belt were convinced to vote for the billionaire Trump, but less about why so many veterans did. I believe that it comes down to not having a strong voice on the left encouraging veterans to fight for a better future.

The collective spirit that is so central to the labor and socialist movements is intrinsically important to veterans too. The socialist movement should be a natural political home for those who signed up for a collective mission for justice but discovered too late that the wars were not about justice, least of all for them.

During and after World War II and the Vietnam War, radicalizing veterans became central to the leadership of the civil rights, antiwar, and Chicano and Black liberation movements. Many grew to become leaders of the socialist movement, as well. What voice do we socialists use today to show veterans that our movement cares about their struggles, can make life better for them, and would stop the “nation-building” and imperialism that is ruining so many lives?

I believe that socialists must introduce veterans to our ideals of working-class democracy, justice, and equality. The movement can show veterans that there is a way to stop the pain and trauma they associate with Washington’s “nation-building” projects.

There are more choices than military intervention or isolationism. Socialists can introduce the idea of real internationalism, where we build global solidarity based on common struggles against the war-makers in every capitalist capital and every corporate boardroom around the world. We can tell the history that proves that a workers’ movement can create a society that can really bring peace and prosperity to their lives.

The military taught us how integral it is for each member to do their job so the mission can be accomplished as a whole. It should be an easy task for veterans to understand how they can contribute to mass actions of millions of workers and strikes at the point of production and transport hubs, actions that could shut down the system, forcing our demands to be met. The response of a group of veterans to the needs of the water protectors at Standing Rock shows that this kind of thinking is in the air.

Now is the moment for socialists to turn to the discussion in earnest. Many weary veterans responded to Trump’s one true statement about their treatment, but we have so many more truths to share. We understand the economic draft. We know that one should not have to put oneself in harm’s way just to avoid unemployment and discrimination due to low income.

Socialists refuse to champion a society that trades lousy military benefits for lifetimes of traumatic brain injury, PTS, and early onset arthritis. Socialists oppose wars fought for the rich against the interests of working people at abroad and at home.

Socialists are for setting up a society in which the major decisions about war, peace, jobs, health care, housing, and education are made by working people themselves. Veterans need to hear this. They have also seen a lot and have a huge contribution to make to the struggle for this new world.

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