Facts of involuntary activation from the IRR
Iraq War veteran "Benji" Lewis explains why he is resisting recall from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), and
what the repercussions are for himself and thousands of others. This is
critical information that the military will never share!
Iraq veteran applies for asylum in Germany
Courage to Resist's
Sarah Lazare outlines the case of U.S. Army SPC André Shepherd for AlterNet. André
went AWOL in Germany and is now the
first Iraq resister to seek asylum in
Robin Long's letter to Israeli objectors
Robin Long is one of 29 U.S. military service members who refused to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan that wrote an open letter of solidarity to Israeli youth who are refusing induction.
Daniel Sandate to be released early
is scheduled to be released from the Fort Sill brig
January 20! A celebration
with Daniel will be held at the Joy Mennonite Church in Oklahoma City on Thursday, January
22. Press conference at 5 pm followed by a potluck dinner.
Facts of involuntary activation from the IRR
By Benji Lewis. January 1, 2009
I am Benji Lewis. I deployed to Iraq twice in 2004 and 2005 and was
discharged honorably in 2007. Recently I have been involuntarily
activated from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) by the U.S. Marine
Corps in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, an activation that I have
been publicly refusing.
The IRR is an inactive group of service members who still have time
remaining on their signing agreements and are eligible to call up in
states of emergency. The current state of emergency is the open-ended
Global War on Terror that includes the occupation of both Iraq and
Because of falling reenlistment levels, the United States is finding
it difficult to procure sufficient manpower in its efforts overseas.
Thus the U.S. government is finding it necessary to reactivate members
from the IRR to stave off its shortage of personnel. Thousands of
individuals are now being faced with the decision to reactivate and
forgo the lives they have built since their discharge. I am ignoring my
orders and encouraging others in the IRR to make an informed decision
on whether or not they should do the same.
The most important fact about this decision is that members of the
IRR do not fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) until
they report to the evaluation for activation. After being discharged
from the military, veterans are bound only by civilian laws, and there
exists no civilian mandate that states they must report for their
evaluation. This means that the military has no formal judiciary
measure for bringing criminal charges against an individual that
ignores orders and fails to report.
Of course the military has certain forms of coercion and harassment
that it utilizes to ‘prompt’ persons into reactivation, but these
threats have no legal grounds. For example, if the military sends a
veteran a letter that says to report for a court martial or a
separations hearing, the military cannot actually hold a court martial
or separations hearing unless that person reports for it. This means
that a vet would have to volunteer to be court marshaled under the
UCMJ. In the case of a separations hearing, a vet would have to agree
to voluntarily participate, as in the well-known case of IRR resister
and fellow IVAW member, Matthis Chiroux.
If members of the IRR ignore all attempts by the military to contact
them, through not signing certified letters, or answering their phone
calls, then the most probable situation is either a general separation
from the IRR citing ‘a failure to contact,’ or, at worst, an
other-than-honorable discharge from the IRR. What is important to
understand is that a discharge from the IRR, in whatever capacity, does
not affect a vet’s discharge from active duty. That means that at this
time no one has incurred any loss of benefits or standing from an
original active duty discharge. An other-than-honorable discharge from
the IRR could, however, affect those that apply for a federal job
requiring a national security background check, such as a position in
the FBI or NSA.
Of the facts surrounding the IRR, it is important to know that about
thirty to forty percent of personnel fail to report. Unfortunately many
of them do comply after the military uses scare tactics to get them to
reactivate. About fifty percent file for medical or hardship exemption
and about fifty percent of those get approved. Individuals with more
than thirty percent disability are most likely to succeed. The reality
is that most service members in the IRR do not even have to file for
exemption if they simply fail to report.
Why I am refusing to reactivate
The U.S. claimed that it invaded Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqi
people from Saddam. The ‘war’ ended for America the day Saddam fled
into hiding and the Iraqi people were ready to reestablish their
futures free from bondage. The ‘war’ especially ended when the Kurds
found and turned over Saddam to American forces, and the ‘war’ really
should have been over by the time many Iraqis were beginning to
discover that though they hated him, their lives were better under
Saddam. Naturally this notion was contrary to stated goals, but
exemplifies the fact that the U.S. did not ever really care about the
people of Iraq, and was more interested in profiteering and
The Iraq resistance to American presence will not cease until it
accomplishes its objectives: U.S. withdrawal of its political and
economic influence, and troop presence.
The U.S. has been instrumental in creating the strife in Iraq: from
the Reagan administration taking Iraq off the state sponsored terrorism
list in 1982 in order to sell it weaponry during the eight year war
with Iran (in which Iraq openly used chemical weapons, utilizing raw
chemicals sold by U.S. corporations and approved by the U.S. Department
of Commerce), to the baiting of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, to the
Gulf War, to the resulting sanctions, and finally to the U.S. invasion
and occupation. Yet, it is still safe to say that during the last three
decades of U.S. involvement in Iraq, the country has never been worse
off than it has been under the U.S. occupation. Still, it surprises
many people, mostly Americans who get their information from mainstream
media outlets, that the Iraqis would be resisting the occupation.
I am resisting activation because the occupation of Iraq has done
nothing but proliferate international terrorism, because the results
from Afghanistan have been and will continue to do the same, and
because the occupation of Iraq has been nothing but detrimental to the
Iraqi people, American troops and their loved ones. It is time for the
American public to understand that just because our government and our
military state specific goals and visions, it does not mean that those
statements reflect their real intentions.
The question for IRR members is whether or not they should leave
their new civilian lives behind so soon after being discharged to fight
in illegal aggressions and occupation. The benefit is certainly not for
veterans who, if they have not already been so, stand only to get
wounded, killed or sustain psychological trauma in the form of PTSD.
I encourage all IRR service members to start questioning what they
are being told by a military system that will tell them anything to
fill its quotas. Active duty troops in Iraq are discovering that by
disobeying orders they are actually saving lives. They are doing this
by refusing orders to patrol hot streets where the only mission that
can be accomplished is to be wounded or killed by an IED or pre-set
ambush with no stated goal but ‘a presence.’ We owe it to active duty
service members and vets to question our orders as IRR members.
Together we can deplete the manpower available for this war and force
the U.S. to rotate its service members home where they belong. We must
allow the Iraqis to rebuild their nation without interference from
biased U.S. policy makers and corporations. It is impossible to honor
those fallen in an unjustifiable aggression by continuing to fill body
We can say no.
Benji Lewis was a Corporal in the U.S.
Marine Corp who served in Fallujah and Hadita in 2004 & 2005. He is
an IRR resister and community activist in Corvallis, Oregon. He
encourages all fellow IRR service members to contact the GI Rights
Hotline (1-877-447-4487) with further questions about the IRR and
André Shepherd, Iraq vet, applies for asylum in Germany
By Sarah Lazare, Courage to Resist for AlterNet.org. January 8, 2009
U.S. Army Specialist André Shepherd, who went AWOL after serving in
Iraq, has applied for asylum in Germany. Shepherd refused military
service because he is morally opposed to the Iraq War.
"It is a sickening feeling to realize that I took part in what was
basically a daily slaughter of a proud people," said Shepherd at a
press conference announcing his application for asylum. "I am
remorseful for my contribution to these heinous acts, and I swear that
I will never make these mistakes again."
Shepherd, who has been living underground in Germany for nearly two
years, applied for refugee status on November 26th on the grounds that
the Iraq War is illegal.
This makes Shepherd the first Iraq War Veteran to apply for refugee
status in Europe. His case may have profound implications for the
growing ranks of troops who are refusing to fight in Iraq and
Read complete article, listen to the Courage to Resist interview
Robin Long's letter in support of Israeli objectors
By Robin Long, imprisoned Iraq War resister. January 7, 2009
Hello, my name is Robin Long. I am serving out a 15 month sentence
in the brig for refusing to participate in the on-going occupation of
Iraq. I have been very vocal over the past few years against human
injustices. I have been contacted by and met many others that are doing
We are all tired of hearing about the political cost of war or the
economic cost of war. The human cost is what's important! I couldn't
simply say "yes sir" and be a uniform following orders, even though I
had signed a contract. My conscience was telling what was right.
I knew my life would be changed forever and that nothing would be
easy. Things have not been easy but I'm still on good terms with my
conscience and I can sleep at night. I look back I and would have it no
other way. I hope that I can be an inspiration for others. I hope that
one day us humans can stop all these needless wars and occupations. I
pray we can transcend all this violence.
This war that's been raised on terrorism is a war on peace! Showing
terror prejudice and persecution to another culture and race in this
war will just ensure the next generation of terrorists!
No matter the color of our skin, white, brown, black, red, yellow we
still bleed red. No matter the religion, Jewish, Muslin, Christian,
Buddhist, we all have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons,
daughters. No matter our language we all have tears, fears, and smiles.
I'm writing to you to say we are the same!
We may be a world away, but I love you! I understand! You are in my
thoughts and prayers! I know things are hard. I want to say thank you
for your righteous stand! You are amazing! Hang in there. I know things
are tough. But many more like you stand by your side.
You can write to me if you would like. I would really like that.
You are all brave!
Peace, Love, Light.
About 100 Israeli high school students
have signed an open letter declaring their refusal to serve in the
Israeli army and their opposition to "Israeli occupation and oppression
policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel." In
Israel, military service is mandatory for all graduating high school
seniors, and resisters face the possibility of years in prison.
Read online article
"Support GI Resistance to War" poster available
Order poster here - enter "Courage to Resist" in the check out comments and we'll get 50% of the proceeds
This is a new poster
(15"x24", $10 each) available from photographer Jon Orlando.
This poster features Garett
Reppenhagen, who in his own words, is “a Veteran of the Iraq War. An ex
United States Cavalry Sniper who has decided to live the rest of his
life opposed to the imperialism and materialism that has eaten away at
the soul of humanity. I’ve dedicated myself to improving my mind and
repairing my spirit, and to assist others to do the same. My goals are
to stir the peaceful revolution into reality and share my experiences
by means of any expression I can master.”
Jon Orlando is
currently working on a series of such images featuring veterans from
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.