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July 23, 2008

The threat of war on Iran looms larger daily. We know that soldiers and sailors are already thinking about the possibilities of personal and collective resistance to yet another illegal and unjust war. We believe that these troops, including the thousands currently AWOL from the U.S. military who are given voice via heroic public GI resisters, can be a significant factor in preventing the Bush/Cheney government from attacking Iran.

As the politics of an election year swirl around us, many Americans understandably have hope for significant progressive change ahead. One example of this change might include a “drawdown” of troops in Iraq. To liberally paraphrase a well known Vietnam-era combat veteran turned war critic, we ask; “How do we ask someone to be the last to kill and die for an illegal and unjust war and occupation?” And that’s the best case scenario.

For the past three years, the organizers, activists, volunteers, collaborators, and supporters of Courage to Resist have been crafting together what it means to create and sustain real support for military resisters. In May of 2005, we were a project in its infancy; an ad hoc group coming together to uphold the courageous stands of objectors Pablo Paredes and Kevin Benderman. Today, in large part due to the generous donations of supporters like you, we have collectively spread our wings and established ourselves as a substantial grassroots effort deeply engaged in building a national GI resistance movement.

What have we done lately with your support?coreyglass

Last week we staged vigils and delegations to 14 Canadian Consulates across the U.S. to support war resisters in collaboration with Veterans for Peace, Project Safe Haven and the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada).

We delivered over 10,000 letters on behalf of supporters to Canadian officials. Our efforts played an important role in last month’s Canadian Parliament resolution welcoming war resisters. Yet with Robin Long’s deportation this week, it’s clear that the Conservative Harper Government is still not listening.

Airman Michael Thurman, stationed at Beale AFB north of Sacramento, California recently won a “honorable” conscientious objector discharge from the Air Force after nine months of support and counseling from Courage to Resist.

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For only $1 a day—$30 a month—you could make a significant commitment to helping expand grassroots support for GI resistance.

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A couple of weeks ago, objector PFC Ryan Jackson was released from the Charleston military jail! Ryan faced a year in the brig, but with civilian legal representation covered by Courage to Resist supporters, he did only 100 days. He was convicted of being AWOL in order to resist war. Today Ryan is starting his life anew, including working with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist to help support other resisters.

Our “Voices of GI Resistance” audio project continues to highlight the voices of servicemembers. Recent interviews include:

PFC Jose Crespo explains why he refused to return to Iraq on June 13—he is currently at Ft. Carson, Colorado awaiting a possible court martial; Honorably discharged Army journalist Matthis Chiroux talks about why he is refusing activation from the Inactive Ready Reserve for Iraq redeployment; William Shearer talks about getting out of the Army by any means possible after returning from Iraq.

Based on our current work with servicemembers, we know that the men and women in the military are stretched beyond their limits. With little regard for physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or significant family hardships, the military is forcing more and more troops to redeploy in order to keep unit rolls “ready enough.” An increasing number of troops are seeing this as an outright betrayal. For many, this is “the final straw” before going AWOL or speaking out.

Building and sustaining our efforts to provide political, emotional, and material support to these courageous resisters—often through the course of significant military discipline and injustice—requires the generosity of supporters like you. Please send your gift of $30, $50, $100 or more today. It’s your tax deductible gift of whatever you can afford that is critical to our efforts through this summer and fall in support of the troops who are refusing to fight.

Courage to Resist Organizing Collective
Agustín & Helga Aguayo, Max Diorio, Ayesha Gill,
Cindy Whitman-Bradley, Jeff Paterson, Sara Rich,
Adam Seibert, David Solnit and Buff Whitman-Bradley



thurman“When I decided to get out of the Air Force because of my discontent with the military and opposition to the war, Courage to Resist helped me every step of the way. They connected me to the resources I needed to help me out of my precarious situation. They offered support and assistance like no other organization. Courage to Resist was an indispensable part of my resistance to military service. Besides helping me through the arbitrary legal system and military formalities, they gave me friendship. They closely supported me through all the tribulations of the arduous conscientious objector process I endured. Without Courage to Resist I might still be trapped in a system I strongly oppose. I highly suggest supporting an organization that has helped me and many other G.I.s resist.”
      —Michael Thurman
      Recently won discharge from Air Force as a conscientious objector

rivera“My goal is to stay in Canada. However, I know that if I ever wanted to come back, Courage to Resist would be there to help. After being in Iraq, I changed the way I think. I no longer believed in war, any wars. And I had no faith that I would get a fair hearing in front of a military judge. I chose not to give my fate over to them—I had firsthand experience of people being treated unfairly in Iraq. I didn’t want to find out how they would treat a soldier like me that refused. I’m here in Canada waiting for the government to put into action the June 3rd Parliament resolution, or for my deportation letter. Whatever happens, I know that I can count on Courage to Resist. I just want peace to live, and for others to have the same.”
      —Kimberly Rivera,
      Seeking refuge in Canada with her husband and children

jackson“Thank you for helping me find the “courage to resist.” While I sit here in the Charleston, South Carolina brig, I feel liberated and free in my conscience and regret nothing in my conquest to simply rise above. Courage to Resist has given so graciously kindness, consideration, support and funds for my defense. Stay strong and please help other resisters.”
      —Ryan Jackson,
      Recently released from the brig for refusing war