While the peace movement opposes wars and our violent foreign policy, we recognize that the individuals who currently serve in the military – or who have served in the military – deserve human rights just like anyone else. When the military establishment hurts them, they need to protect their rights. Also, some active duty troops and veterans find various ways to work for peace – sometimes at great personal risk.
The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s October 2011 TV program examines these concerns and focuses on Coffee Strong, the GI coffee house that operated for several years near Fort Lewis, which is now called Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), south of Tacoma WA. Coffee Strong described itself as “pro-soldier, anti-war.”
Both of our guests – Jorge Gonzales and Joseph Carter – are veterans of the war in Iraq. Jorge was Executive Director of Coffee Strong when we conducted the 2011 interview. He was active with the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and served on IVAW’s national Board of Directors. Joseph Carter was the president of IVAW’s local chapter and has served as Co-Executive Director of Coffee Strong.
When a category of people are being abused, they stand up to assert their human dignity and work actively to protect their rights. Military troops and veterans are like everyone else. Ordinary grassroots people created and empower Coffee Strong, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and other organizations. They serve their members and our whole society. They deserve our support.
Our TV program discusses the activities of Coffee Strong and a number of other groups that work with active duty troops, veterans, and others from peace perspectives. We affirm commonalities among them and the peace movement.