Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This is Cool!


LAKEWOOD, WA As the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq nears most
people are saddened, many people are angry, and some groups are doing
something about it. Some of those groups - G.I. Voice, Iraq Veterans Against
the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Courage to Resist, and Industrial
Workers of the World - recently hosted an historic weekend of training and
dialogue at COFFEE STRONG, the G.I. coffeehouse located just outside of Ft.
Lewis, WA.

The training was provided for active duty members of the military who flew
in from all over the country. The training covered a wide range of topics
which included organizing in a hostile environment, building and maintaining
active duty organizations, social and industrial mapping, developing
affinity groups, the history of IVAW and VVAW, and GI rights.

Active duty soldier and member of IVAW Jabbar Gaffney was very enthusiastic
about the two-day event. "It was very effective training that provided tools
to be used while organizing in hostile situations." He also noted, "It's
getting easier to approach soldiers about IVAW's message."

Active duty members stationed overseas were expected to attend this weekend
training, but last minute changes to their leave inhibited their travel.

In an interview from Germany. active duty soldier and IVAW member Selena
Coppa said, "I went from having my Battalion Commander and Unit assuring me
that my leave was set, to having it pulled 8 days before the event.
Supposedly this was, 'in my best interest'.

"Other active duty organizers were sent TDY, put in the field, or were
placed on extra duty all within the same three day period.

"I think it is obvious that someone in the Army was trying to stop this."

With two wars being fought and a slumping economy it is important, now more
than ever, for GI coffeehouses like COFFEE STRONG to offer services and
resources to active duty soldiers, veterans, and their family members.
COFFEE STRONG was opened by the non-profit GI Voice Project in an effort to
provide tangible support for the troops.

Even though the Army's unofficial response has been less than welcoming, the
reaction from soldiers has been the opposite.

According to Executive Director Seth Manzel, "We have had an overwhelmingly
positive response from soldiers and the community. In fact, we have yet to
have one complaint about what we are doing.

"I think the soldiers recognize that we are here to help."

To find out how you can support this project please visit

Note: I can't hyperlink the address but you can find everything you need to know about these fine Americans at GI Voice.

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