Iraq Veterans Against the War

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Iraq Veterans Against the War marching in Boston, October 2007

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is an advocacy group of formerly active-duty United States military personnel, Iraq War veterans, Afghanistan War veterans, and other veterans who have served since the September 11, 2001 attacks who were opposed to U.S. military in Iraq from 2003-2011. The organization advocated immediate withdrawal of all Coalition forces in Iraq, and reparations paid to the Iraqi people. It also provides support services for returning veterans to include health care and mental health.

Membership[edit]

The membership is composed of American military veterans, active-duty service personnel from all branches of the military, and U.S. National Guard members and reservists who have served since September 11, 2001.[1] Prospective members are required to provide proof of military service.[2] Proof of military service became a requirement in order to preserve the integrity of the organization. A former member, proven military imposter Jesse MacBeth, who was later punished under the Stolen Valor Act, was briefly part of the group before it was discovered he had fabricated his military past. IVAW promptly expelled him and instituted a verification policy. However, in 2009, it was determined that another member by the name Rick Duncan had lied about being in the military.[3] In 2009,Kristofer Goldsmith,a member at that time, exposed James Morriss as another fake veteran. James had claimed to be a member of the 82nd with a deployment to Afghanistan. In a video he is heard saying that his was ordered by his Commanding Officer to shoot an unarmed child.

The group was founded in July 2004, at the annual Veterans for Peace convention in Boston by seven veterans: former Executive Director Kelly Dougherty (U.S. Army), Tim Goodrich (U.S. Air Force), Mike Hoffman (U.S. Marine Corps), Alex Ryabov (USMC), Jimmy Massey (USMC), Isaiah Pallos (USMC), and Diana Morrison (U.S. Army).

IVAW currently has 61 chapters around the United States; one in Toronto, Canada, made up of war resisters; and a chapter in Germany, five of which are on active duty military bases. The six active duty chapters are on Fort Drum, New York; Fort Meade, Maryland; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Hood, Texas; Lawton-Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina.[4] Members of the organization reside in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Canada, Europe, and on numerous bases overseas, including bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Membership is currently over 1,800 persons.[5]

Truth in Recruiting[edit]

IVAW has actively participated in a nationwide Truth in Recruiting campaign aimed at countering alleged misconceptions of military service propagated by recruiters. Currently many IVAW members are involved in "equal access" policies at high schools across the country.[1]

Stop-loss policy[edit]

IVAW has protested the military's stop-loss policy,[citation needed] which is an extension of soldiers' Active Duty service period by the Department of Defense. All service members sign up for a minimum of eight years of total service, a portion of which (generally around four years) is served in the Inactive Ready Reserve. The Defense Department may recall members from inactive service as noted in their enlistment contracts. Several tower-guard vigils against the stop-loss have been held in various places including Colorado Springs, Colorado; Bellingham, Washington; and Washington D.C.[citation needed]

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan[edit]

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan was an event in Washington, D.C. in March 2008, run by IVAW, at which U.S. veterans spoke about their experiences during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan (2001–present). It was inspired by the similar 1971 event put on by Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

IVAW action following Fort Hood shooting of November 5, 2009[edit]

Following the Fort Hood shooting of November 5, 2009, Michael Kern, former President of the Fort Hood IVAW chapter attempted to hand President Obama a statement from the organization, when the President visited his barracks at Fort Hood on November 10. The statement in part demanded that the military radically overhaul its mental health care system and halt the practice of repeated deployment of the same troops. Michael Kern has since resigned from IVAW.

In August 2010 members of the IVAW took part in protesting the deployment of the 3rd ACR as the troops were leaving for Iraq. During the protest at least one person tried to stand in front of the buses carrying the troops.

Refuge in Canada[edit]

A majority of Canadians are of the view that U.S. war resisters who had fled to Canada to avoid having to serve in Iraq should be able remain in Canada. The Canadian parliament is considering an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which would provide legal sanctuary for U.S. war resisters.[6]

Flag Burning[edit]

In March 2010, IVAW Board member Matthis publicly burned the American Flag while acting as event speaker at a protest. The event at Lafayette Park was captured on video and photos. The reaction from IVAW members ranged from resigning to producing their own flag burning videos. IVAW’s Executive Director, Jose Vasquez issued a statement in response to the event.

The message Matthis chose to convey represents his views and those of some other members in IVAW. It does not, however represent the position of all members nor the official position of the organization. While we endorsed the ANSWER march, there was no official endorsement of the message Matthis conveyed. Nor was official endorsement sought. Matthis represented his personal views which resonate with some but not all members. Our messaging is important and in the future we should all make an effort to reach consensus with those we organize with in an open way about how we represent IVAW.

In September 2010 Matthis resigned from the Board of Directors.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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