News Release

Veterans and Military Families

WES HAMILTON
Hamilton, a Vietnam War veteran, is one of more than 30 people who have been arrested in the last week protesting the military’s use of the Port of Tacoma, Washington. Late Friday night, the police used tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters. Video is here.

The military has been using the Port of Tacoma to deploy the Stryker Brigade to Iraq. Similar protests came before the military stopped using the port at nearby Olympia, Washington.

Hamilton, who is a member of the Olympia chapter of Veterans for Peace, said: “The best way to support the troops is to prevent them from being placed into the midst of a civil war where they have a high risk of killing or being killed. We have a moral and humanitarian obligation to resist the use of our port.”

Linda Frank is a local peace activist and can provide more information and arrange interviews with other local figures. More video, which scrutinizes police claims regarding the arrests, is here.
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TINA RICHARDS
Tina Richards’ son has been deployed to Iraq twice. He has since attempted suicide and is facing a third deployment. Last week she spoke to Rep. David Obey in a Congressional hallway; video of their exchange, which Obey has apologized for, is available on Richards’ web page.

Richards, who is from Missouri, said: “I’ve come to Washington, D.C., because my son Cloy, who has been honorably discharged from the Marines with the presidential unit citation, is now facing a possible third deployment. Cloy is suffering from undiagnosed traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. … My unplanned meeting with Rep. David Obey in the hallway was an opportunity to ask the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the committee that will write the budget for the Iraq war and occupation, how he will use the ‘power of the purse’ to bring the war to an end. …

“The new majority should write their own supplemental budget bill based on the views of the vast majority of Americans, majority of troops in Iraq, and majority of Iraqis — one that ends the war, brings the troops home safely and takes care of them when they return.” [Full story]

Linda Schade is with www.VotersForPeace.us and accompanied Richards on a visit to Obey’s office Monday.

STACY HAFLEY
Hafley is the wife of an Iraq war veteran and president of the Midwest Chapter of Military Families Speak Out; she is in contact with military families throughout the Midwest. She was struck with an ailment while her husband was in Iraq. She said today: “From what I see from talking with so many military families, the policies are not in place to care for these soldiers. Tina’s son has attempted suicide several times; that’s a huge problem. I haven’t met a single soldier who’s walked away from the war in Iraq without a mental and emotional toll. They have their lives under near-constant threat, they see incredible carnage. Many have had to deal with the guilt of separating their conscience from their job of killing people. I don’t think that Tina’s son will ever be the same, I don’t think my husband will ever be the same. We have to overcome the stigma of dealing with mental issues coming out of this.”
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GARETT REPPENHAGEN
Currently in Washington, D.C., Reppenhagen is chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War and was a U.S. cavalry sniper from February 2004 until February 2005 in Iraq. He said today: “The VA system is grossly underfunded, most glaringly for psychological injuries. … Thinking that debate about the war demoralizes the troops is unfounded. I was in Iraq and I served my country proudly. But the military was used for irresponsible and dishonest purposes. I obeyed my orders, but hoped the American people would see the error of the war and act accordingly.”
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LIAM MADDEN
Madden was a communications and electronics specialist with the Marines in Iraq. He co-founded the Appeal for Redress, a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and U.S. Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. He left the military in January. He said today: “Obviously our soldiers need to be taken much better care of. A nation that can’t take care of its veterans is a nation that has no business sending them off to war. More urgent than dealing with the band-aid solutions is turning off the faucet that produces traumatized soldiers. A fellow veteran recently said that ‘I didn’t go to war because I was brave. I went because I was a coward.’ That’s not easily digestible. But it’s easier to follow orders than to stand up to your government. More of us are doing that now.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167