Groups plan local events for Winter Soldier

March 7, 2008

ACROSS THE country, antiwar activists are holding events with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) in the run-up to the IVAW's "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan" event in Washington, D.C., on March 13-16.

At the University of Vermont in Burlington, more than 200 attended a panel discussion with four IVAW members from the group's Vermont chapter. Several professors canceled classes, some academic departments cosponsored the event, and local media covered the proceedings. A dozen sponsoring groups had tables in the back of the room, and a member of the Campus Antiwar Network chaired the event.

The testimony consisted of speeches, photographs and videos that documented the horrible human toll of the U.S. war on Iraq. The event helped raise funds to support the IVAW's upcoming Winter Soldier event in D.C.

In Seattle, more than 25 active-duty soldiers joined a crowd of nearly 100 antiwar activists at a concert dubbed "Soldier, You Are Not Alone."

IVAW members from four Washington State chapters organized the event. Soldiers who had come but were not already against the war took the opportunity to talk about their experiences with IVAW members and other antiwar activists. One active-duty soldier joined the IVAW on the spot.

What you can do

Go to the Iraq Veterans Against the War Web site for more information about how to set up your own local broadcast of Winter Soldier, or to post information about an event you are organizing.

You can also get news and updates about war resisters and other initiatives by antiwar veterans and active-duty troops at the IVAW site.

The Citizen Soldier Web site is an excellent resource for active-duty soldiers looking for news and advice about their rights. Soldiers can also contact the GI Rights Hotline Web site, or call 877-447-4487 from the U.S., 202-483-2220 from outside the U.S., or 06223-47506 from Germany.

Musical guests set the stage for great discussions with their songs about the Iraq war, soldiers' resistance and the history of U.S. militarism. The concert capped a week of outreach to soldiers at Fort Lewis.

In Rochester, N.Y., about 140 braved single-digit temperatures to attend a screening of the original Winter Soldier documentary at a local movie theater and participate in a panel discussion with antiwar veterans from the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The local chapter of IVAW, Rochester Against War and other civilian antiwar organizations held the event to raise more than $1,000 to support the upcoming Winter Soldier event in Washington, D.C.

"Forty years later, we haven't learned," said local activist Roberto Resto, a veteran who was wounded during his service in the Vietnam War. "We are back in the same quagmire, the same war. We cannot continue to send young men and women to die in a war for oil and profit."

In New York City, the IVAW chapter hosted a February 26 screening of the original Winter Soldier documentary at Hunter College with the local chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network. The event drew more than 25 students, veterans and antiwar activists.

IVAW member Jen Hogg talked about her experiences in the National Guard and introduced the documentary, and IVAW member Fernando Braga explained that a central aim of the upcoming Winter Soldier is to reach out to other veterans and active duty soldiers.

Akua Ofori, Rianne Mitchell, Ashley Smith and Erik Wallenberg contributed to this report.

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