Friday, January 23, 2009

Women Veterans Writer's Group Forms - St Paul, Mn

Ed Note: This came in from my friend and sister, Chante Wolfe. Chante is a female Veteran from the 1st Gulf War. I met her when we were there together with, at the Winter Soldier I & A, in Maryland, this past year. Chante is a photo/journalist, and had agreed to work with the group, who were there, not only as VVAW and VFP members in support of security for the event, but also on a journalistic mission. This effort resulted in our first Special Edition on-line magazine, dedicated to the WSI I&A event. Chante provided the cover photo, and a slide show for for that commerative publication. I have linked copies of the flyer and the press for the intial writer's meeting, in the subject line of Chante's e-mail. If you know a WV, in the Twin Cities area, who might be interested in joining in with Chante in this worthwhile project, or have a contact in the Twin Cities press, please, share it with them. If you are interested in putting together a Veteran's writing group in your area, please, e-mail:

Here's Chante's message...

From: Chante Wolf
Subject: Fwd: Writing Group Flyer & Press Release
Date: Monday, January 19, 2009, 1:16 PM

Please forward to women veterans you know who may be interested in attending this free writing group. This idea is based on the work done by veterans with Maxine Hong Kingston and Thich Nhat Hanh and the book that followed: "Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace". It is my firm belief that telling our stories is one of the most important components of our healing journey. This is a safe place for women who served in the military to come and share their stories through writing.

First meeting: Jan. 25th, 4 - 6pm -- Twin Cities Friends Meeting 1726 Grand Ave., St. Paul. Bring writing materials and anything you have been working on already -- or ideas to start with.

All women veterans are welcome!

Chante Wolf

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Veterans & Groups, Rally Against VA land Grab...

Ed Note: As the realities of the election and the New Year sets in, folks in the "movement" are all meeting and discussing the topic of the day; "What Now?" The answer seems pretty clear to me; keep on keepin' on! Only, first, review your organizational or personal history, and see how effective we have been in real world thinking, and focus on what worked for us. You have to use critical thinking analysis...very different than the old criticism and self-criticism sessions of the Maoist and Marxist political dogma doctrines of the '60s and '70s. And certainly different than political correct thinking model of the mid '80s that many still cling to, thereby impairing their effectiveness. This ain't the past, this is the 21st century, and we need to get lean and mean, and resourceful vs outraged, directionless, and divisively ineffective.
This open letter came in an e-mail from a VVAW associate of mine, Steve Crandall, who is calling for action from Veterans and their supporters, and who are actively coalescing around a Veterans' focus issue in a meaningful way. This, as opposed to trying to be all things to all issues and thereby diluting their message, and losing focus on why you are in the fight, in the first place. totally supports this particular initiative because it is focused and has strategic, tactical, and political direction. The stuff that strong coalitions are made of. hopes that you will join us with your active support for Veterans United For Truth on this initiative, who's outcome extends way beyond Veterans issues and Brentwood, Ca. It is an issue of Veterans' Congressionally mandated Rights.WH
Slippery Slope Agreement Leads to Veteran’s Land Grab
120 years ago, on 3 March 1888, a plot of land was irrevocably deeded by John P. Jones and Arcadia de Baker to the United States for the “sole purpose of providing veterans a place to heal from war”. That property is now called the “VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System” and is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In September 2007 the local VA entered into a “Shared Property” agreement with an organized group of Brentwood and Beverly Hills residents calling themselves the “Veterans Park Conservancy” to use 16+ acres of that land, rent-free, as a public park. The agreement runs for 20 years with an option for 10 more. The $6M - $7M worth of improvements are to be paid for through donations collected by the Conservancy.
It is clear that this amount of money represents the cost for permanent structures and not just planting trees on the property. Also prior to entering into the agreement the VA was pressured into spending $1M+ on a new cast iron fence to remove what the Conservancy termed an “eyesore” to this wealthy community. To understand how transparent, the Conservancy’s motives are, they advertised the proposed park by placing a sign “Beauty, Honor, Country”, thus trivializing the US Military Academy’s motto “Duty, Honor, Country”. Their focus on “Beauty” rather than “Duty” explains their concern clearly. They do not understand the sacrifices veterans and their families have endured to protect our country.

The quest to turn the veteran’s land into a public park does not rest solely with the Conservancy group. They are backed by Congresspersons who would rather put this land in the hands of their wealthy constituents than honor the original deed agreement and provide the veterans that fought for this country a protected place to heal from the war. The Conservancy is promoting their project by saying that the land would be used “for the enjoyment and education of the entire community” as if the veterans would share equally in the use of the land. Once this land becomes “public property” the veterans will never see it again because reversing a “public agreement” will be next to impossible.

Veterans groups who have been at odds with each other for over forty years regarding the Vietnam War and more recently over the War in Iraq have joined forces to oppose this give-away. We must all stand together to protect this land on behalf of all veterans and not let this land be stolen.

The “slippery slope” land grab by the Conservancy is not a Democratic or Republican fight. It is also not a local fight here in Los Angeles; this is a national fight for veteran’s rights. Public opinion counts the most, so write your Congressmen and Senators to let them know you oppose the VA’s actions. Also contact as many people as you can, veterans or not, and ask them to email Veterans United for Truth at and let them know you also oppose Brentwood’s encroachment on this land. Join us and support all veterans!

Steve Crandall, President
CA Central Coast Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Friday, January 02, 2009

Robin Long Candle Light Vigil:




Jan A. Ruhman

It’s 6:33 pm Sunday evening December 29, 2008 and the San Diego Chargers are beating the Denver Bronco’s 17 to 6. The Christmas Holiday Season is fast coming to a close and I’m just now able to take the time to begin to put into writing an After Action Report on the first Candle Light Vigil held on the evening of December 23rd from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm out side the North Gate to MCAS Miramar in San Diego In Support of Robin Long “Prisoner of Conscience”.

Organized by Veterans For Peace (VFP), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and supported by many progressive individuals and organizations in the county. The objective, to call upon Pres. Elect Obama to FREE ROBIN LONG, “Prisoner of Conscience” and to begin to shine a bright light of public scrutiny on the predicament of all Active Duty GI Conscientious Objectors and the plight that America’s young men and women serving our nation in uniform are facing this Holiday Season due to the callousness of their own government and command.

The Holiday Candle Light Vigil of 12/23/08:

To the thirty two (32) folks (I’ve heard counts from 27 to 36) who I counted that stood in the cold, candle in one hand sign of support in the other we salute you. You dedication and commitment to “Speaking Truth to Power” is exemplary, especially during the Holiday Season so close to Christmas Eve. We know that each and every one of you could have been in a warm home enjoying laughter and song with family and friends but you choose instead to stand up and support Robin Long. Robin asked me today in the brig to say, “Thank You” and to say “that he’s amazed that so many people in San Diego would take him into their hearts and do so much for him and his son and his son’s mother living in Canada”.



DATE: Tuesday, January 13th

TIME: 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm

PLACE: North Gate to MCAS Miramar. N. W. Corner of Miramar Road @ Clayton Drive

Robin Long - Prisoner Of Conscience; Update:

The Most Recent Visit with Robin in the Brig, Sunday, 12/28/08:

Ed Note:  This report comes from Jan Ruhman, our Operations Coordinator.  Jan is also an active member of  Veterans For Peace, San Diego, and is the Southern California Organizing Coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against The War.  In these capacities,  he has been active in bringing together a coalition of groups in SoCal that , in conjunction with other organizational priorities, have come together  in support of Robin Long, a victim of the suppression of GI Rights for political purposes.  A coalition that also includes Iraq Veterans Against The War and Military Families Speak Out.  In this regard, they are not only speaking out for Robin Long, but for all who serve, and may themselves unfortunately fall victim to such political purposes, in the future.WH

This in from Jan...

Today is Sunday, December 28th , and from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm I visited, alone, for the fourth time,  with Robin Long in the Naval Consolidated Brig at MCAS Miramar while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue unabated and Hamas and Israel began yet another deadly round in their on again off again war on civilians. It was a last minute decision on my part to fill in for others who came down sick and to fulfill a promise we made to Robin when we adopted him, that someone from VFP, MFSO, IVAW or VVAW would be in to spend time with him each and every holiday and weekend until his release in July of 2009.

It was, yet another wonderful two hours spent with an exceptional young man. A young man who could be my son or any other families son who, having taken a principled moral stand by refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war made the same choice that Robin was forced to make to remain true to his core beliefs of right and wrong. And I imagined my own son being locked away in a brig on some base some where in America hundreds or even thousands of miles from family and friends for that decision in complete sync with the values I had tried to instill in him. Each time I visit with Robin I realize that’s what troubles me the most.

But today what stuck me even harder while speaking to Robin was the total cost in human suffering because of this war; the CO like the soldier or Marine who suffers from physical or psychological wounds is yet one more human being needlessly suffering. Not a number, not a statistic but a person, a human being, someone’s husband, son, nephew, cousin or friend. Perhaps he and other soldiers like him are the collateral damage of a military pushed to its breaking point lashing out in an attempt to maintain control over the young minds they command while dutifully implementing the mission. 

The Injustice:

How else could they justify a 15 month prison sentence for Robin Long for desertion and a 7 month sentence for a soldier convicted in that same Military Justice System of 1st Degree Murder of executing 6 Iraqi civilians.  To be clear, I am not saying that his sentence should have been harsher (as a former young US Marine who voluntarily served two tours in Vietnam I know all to well the horrors of war and what good people are capable of doing in the fog of war). My point is that Robin Long shouldn’t serve a single day in jail for following his conscience.

Giving Thanks:

This, for me, has been a Christmas to give thanks for so much that I have been blessed with and to give thanks to so many good and decent people in my life. Christmas Day was a quite day of meals and movies spent with family. Saturday was my youngest son’s 26th Birthday and that evening after Birthday Cake and the singing of Happy Birthday I attended the wedding of an old and dear friend whose new bride has a 21 year old son, whom I met and briefly spoke with, who is deploying to Iraq on January 3, 2009. He was part of the Grooms party and was dressed in his full Military Dress Uniform. I brought to mind that old saying “women love a man in uniform”. He looked handsome and stood tall and proud. Later at the Reception Dinner I met his young wife and their new born child who was just 2 ½ months old. I pray for his safe return and wonder how he’ll feel about “his” war when he returns?

I remember asking my youngest son if he had ever thought about joining the military after he dropped out of college and returned home, he said, “yes”.  I asked him what changed his mind and his reply was,” It’s not like you never talked with me about it Dad”, made me proud that I had shared my war experiences in Vietnam and the lies and betrayal of my government in that war with him and that I had taught him to question authority and to always fully think things through for himself. For that I am the most grateful this Holiday Season.  Peace

 Jan A. Ruhman

Proud Member of Veterans For Peace


Vietnam Veterans Against the War