I was able to have a conversation with Jonathan Hutto this evening about the original Appeal for Redress. I spent a good 30 minutes on the phone and was able to get a feel for some of what they did. He is also sending a copy of his book and I hope to have it before convention.
In regards to confidentiality – They set the website up and used that as the main source of active duty members signing. No one outside of the webmaster (who did the task pro bono) and congress men and women knew the names of those who had signed. Jonathan knew only the numbers and had the numbers broken down into areas and bases as well as totals.
In regards to set goals of numbers – When they started they did not have a set goal for the number of signatures that they were looking for. When they went public, to the best of his knowledge, they had around 600 signatures. One point that he made very clear was that the numbers are not the most important part, but having the interest and support from active duty members shows that there is an issue that needs to be addressed.
When asked about pushback from active duty members or supporters Jonathan stated that in his experience there were no issues. The PAO (Public Affairs Officer) of the ship did however sit him down and explain the Navy’s stance that as long as he was off duty, out of uniform, and not on base, he could say and do what he wanted. This was in contrast with two other supporters; one faced minimal pushback from the command in an informal manner while the second faced formal reprisal. Making the point that strong ties with the GI rights hotline is an important and needed step to have in place prior to going public.
The last question centered around how he felt they did at accomplishing their goal and if any changes could have been made what would they be. in light of these questions Jonathan felt that the process as a whole went well and he was pleased with the results. One thing that he would change was how they implemented the process. Starting as a task force initiative they did not have the proper backing to create an institutionalized basis for continued work. Set as a moving model there was no infrastructure in place for them to start setting up actual spaces for continued organizing. Having a space that can be set up as a base for advocacy and continued training for active duty members and helping transition from active to veteran would have been a long range goal. The focus was on enlisted members and they did not target officers at all. From talking with Jonathan, this still seems to be the basis of how he would move forward but with an understanding that officers may also be included and targeted but in a lesser extent.
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.
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.
Welcome Home Montrose
VA Rehab center
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.
Post 9/11 compared to pre 9/11 veterans
No Gulf War Syndrome
First war fought in the streets (urban)
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.
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.
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.