For immediate release:

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Time: 1-3 PM and 6:30-9:00 PM
Location: 5th & Main
then Fraps and Wraps on Main (150 W Main St)
Suggested Donation: $10

Join Iraq Veterans Against the War in Grand Junction, CO on Tuesday, March 19th at 1:00 PM on Main Street to chalk the names of Colorado natives who have died since the start of the occupation in Iraq and at 6:30 PM at Fraps and Wraps on Main for a film screening that will highlight the epidemic of rape in the military followed by a discussion about the continued struggles that our servicemembers’ are facing at the V.A. after returning from the battlefield.  Following the screening, Iraq veterans will lead a discussion about the ongoing trauma caused by the Iraq War and the organizing work currently underway to improve veteran care here in Colorado.

The Invisible War – Film Screening –

Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of rape victims, The Invisible War is a moving indictment of the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, chronicling the women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. It also features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long-hidden history, and what can be done to bring about much needed change.

March 19 will mark the 10 year anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.  While the war may officially be “over” and has faded from the minds of many Americans, the casualties continue to mount.  Thousands of veterans, service members, and Iraqi and Afghan civilians continue to deal with the mental and physical trauma that they suffered as a result of the war and daily violence. These attacks continue in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the legacy of U.S. invasion.

Many of our veterans and service members have suffered injuries that will eventually claim their lives as their physical and mental health deteriorates.  These deaths will never be included in any official War on Terror casualty count.  Returning veterans who seek health care through the underfunded and understaffed Department of Veterans Affairs face long wait times, confusing bureaucracy, and  inconsistent quality and availability of healthcare.  Currently we are experiencing a veteran suicide epidemic with 22 veterans committing suicide every day.  The men and women who have served our country deserve the care and resources to heal from trauma they’ve suffered due to their military service.

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UniversiTea with the Humanists Doing Good in Colorado

I had the chance to speak at one of the local humanists events a few months ago.  Below are the topics covered and just a few of the highlights from the conversations that followed.

Military

  • Working with military and veterans
    • There is a difference between military and civilians when it comes to a work environment.
    • Military, from my observations, have a different way and different culture that is ok when it comes to working with others.  Military will expect those around them to know the job they are assigned to do and how to do that job.  We are also trained to understand that we may have to do the job of those above or below us.  Understanding and being able to do the job above yours is what got me into trouble in my current employment.
    • Busy work is despised when it comes to simply filling time.  spending hours cleaning, stripping paint, painting, preparing for war, and so on has build a distaste for needless tasks like re-mopping an area that was just mopped.  In these cases we will tend to work much slower and use that power to show a kind of disrespect toward whomever tasks us with that task.
    • It was brought up that most of what we talked about could be compared to shared experience.  Not only a shared experience type of setting but also the upbringing of each other.  One member stated that his upbringing has played into his discipline in taking care of others.
    • Talking about transiting from one chapter to another, substance abuse is the topic, there has to be some sort of training that will indoctrinate the person as to how to act around others and not become selfish.
  • Differences between civilian and military
    • There are certain things that military have gone through that act as a kind of glue.  When you talk to a vet or active duty member, you know that they have spent time being beaten down and then built back up on the same basic principles.  every member of the armed forces goes through boot camp and that is one thing that most civilians will never understand.
    • For that reason, most military can fight with one another and the next day carry on like there was never an issue.
    • There is an unspoken understanding between veterans and military personnel that should something happen then they will not be left behind or forgotten about.  This will play heavily when talking about a large workload or partying.
    • We talked about one experience that a fellow veteran had where a friend was left at the airport and he had to drive to get him.  He was later accused of drug use because of the drive and lack of sleep that hindered his next day’s performance.
  • Differences between moral or ethical standards
    • What is moral in the civilian world is very different when in a closed system such as the military.  There are many different actions that can and will be taken in the military that would be looked at as unethical or immoral in a civilian stance.
      • Wire brush experience
    • Shared a story about one of my shipmates that chose to never shower or wash his clothing.  The process that we used to change this behavior was to throw him into the shower and attack him what wire brushes.
      • This behavior was allowed and even endorsed by the chain of command.  Dealing with things at the lowest level meant that we were to deal with the issue ourselves and correct that deficiency using any means necessary.
    • The use of ostracism was one of the main tools that we used to correct issues that we were unable to solve otherwise.  One of the most utilized and overlooked of all tools that we were trained in.
    • The cycle perpetuates itself.  crossing the equator or passing through the arctic circle are huge hazing accomplishments.

Transition: Civ to Sol, Sol to Civ

    • The transition going from a civilian to a soldier is one that each member will go through.  Boot camp is something that each of us completes before being called a soldier.
    • Boot camp = breakdown of the civilian and then the rebuilding of the soldier
    • No transition from active to civilian.  When you get out you sign the DD214 and then walk out with just what you are wearing.  All gear is returned and that is the close of that chapter.  There is no training, military feels that it is a waste of time as they do not receive any benefit from the time spent.
  • Organizations for veterans
    • There are many different organizations for veterans.  There are two major problems with the way that they are set up.  Much money is spent on advertising leaving a lack of funding for the actual program.  Or on the flip side, there is no money spent on advertising and an excess of funding at the end of the year.
    • VETS CAFE
    • IVAW
    • Wounded Warriors
    • America’s Wounded
    • Welcome Home Montrose
    • VA Rehab center
    • VA hospital
    • Veterans Court (in the works for mesa county)
    • Voc rehab through VA
  • Reasons for ways of thinking
    • Everything we have already talked about
    • The culture is aggressive and the members are trained to think and act in a certin way that will allow others to learn the ways either by choice or through actions taken against them.
    • Trained to not show weakness.
    • Hazing
    • Physical abuse
    • Mental abuse
    • Ostracism
  • Post 9/11 compared to pre 9/11 veterans
    • PTSD
    • No Gulf War Syndrome
    • TBI
    • Civilian murders
    • First war fought in the streets (urban)
    • MTS

Environmental

  • Community gardening
    • Guy works over 12 plots in Denver (land that is not his but gained the approval to use), he is able to produce enough food for 33 employees and still sell $400 a week at the stand.
  • Guerrilla gardening
    • Using others land to grow food
    • Repurpose land usage to grow food
    • Grow food not lawns
  • Burn scars and the effect they are now having on the communities near Colorado Springs
    • Landowners near Co Springs are needing help with the burn scars.  The city is not willing to help the landowners pay to have mulch laid on the property.  They are laying mulch on the forest.  1600 an acre.  The burn scars have allowed the rain water to create mud flows that have washed out many of the private roads in the area.

I would like to hear the opinions of those in the group about the local police force as well as if anyone feels the nation is heading toward a society that is accustomed to dealing with violence in the community and if that is justification to allow officers to act with current levels of force.

After the Showing

We were able to have our first showing of “The Invisible War” last night.  Our showing was a closed one that was intended to be by invitation only.  It went over with only a few speed bumps.  The DVD player in the facility was hot and caused the film to skip and freeze a few times but from the talking of those involved this did not detract from the experience too much.  The pauses were either a comedic relief of added to the suspense of the viewing and as the room was mostly women it may have been a good thing.

The film stirred quite a few emotions in many of the people who attended, everything from anger to a kind of laughter about how the military dealt with these types of issues.  The anger is warranted and understood but the laughter stemmed from the misunderstanding of how the military and civilian worlds differed.  It seems that most of the women that were at the viewing had not gained much experience dealing with the military of people in the military, this lead to a sizeable gap of knowledge between the four vets and the 12 civilians but it was one that we were able to work through before we broke for the night.

All in all I feel that this was a great event and one that we look forward to putting on again.  I do have to give a shout out to one of the people who gave me a push to get things moving along; Graham, thank you for everything you have done to get things moving out here.