As one broke Iraq vet sold his medal late this week in attempt to survive joblessness, other vets have released an episode of the movie Voice of Art, Part 1 documenting why other Iraq Veterans threw away their medals last month in protest, both reasons indicating human rights abuses of United States soldiers and others involved in the Global War on Terror.
Iraq veterans have different motives for getting rid of their medals. Some are auctioning them to survive after they return home and face lack of government care while others are throwing away their medals in protest. The latter reason is disgraceful according to some vets, heroic to others. Both reasons reflect grave human rights violations impacting American troops.
“I don’t have a lot of stuff left to sell,” Crowley told 97.3 KIRO FM’s Dori Monson Show Thursday, after losing a good paying job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and struggling to pay his bills.
This week, Josh Crowley, who completed his active service in the military about a year ago, put his Global War on Terrorism medal on eBay to sell it there.
“I sold my bed. I’ve been living on an inflatable mattress since December. I sold my TV. I’ve sold everything that I have of real value.”
That is only one aspect that a soldier endures for fighting in America’s Global War on Terror. That is only one reason for letting go of the medal.
Many veterans dumping their medals are working hard to show Americans that the war in Iraq and the other wars in the war on terror are illegal and immoral.
Last month, the Voice of Art film team spent the month of May following members of the Chicago Iraq Veterans Against the War chapter as they planned and implemented their action that echoed the throwing back of medals by anti-war Vietnam veterans in Washington DC in 1971.
(Watch the embedded Youtube video on this page, ‘Voice of Art’ Part I by I Am Other featuring Iraq Veterans Against the War throwing away their Global War on Terrorism Medals in protest.)
In protest, “under the watchful eyes of a phalanx of full-black-clad riot police,” as The Guardian had described the event, posted on Veterans Today, dozens of Veterans threw away their service medals at the historic Occupy Wall Street’s NATO protest last month in Chicago.
“The people need to become aware of what’s going on and we need to stop this war by opposing it,” Abdullah Ray of Iraq Veterans Against the War says in the new movie episode.
“There shouldn’t be a NATO and NATO should be held accountable for their war crimes.”
Four other featured veterans in the episode – Aaron Hughes, Iris Feliciano, Greg Broseus and Alejandro Villatoro – in addition to being peace activists, are also artists using their creativity to process their wartime experiences.
Iraq veterans fight for different cause now that they are home
“This one says, ‘Stop deployment of traumatized troops,” explains veteran Maggie Martin as she demonstrates how the veterans’ stenciled signs are being made of top soil and water.
“We’re talking about soldiers who have military sexual traumatized, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and things like that,” Martin says, wearing her Iraq Veterans Against the War black and white t-shirt as she sits on the ground making a NATO protest sign.
“And these soldiers are not getting the care that they need, the care that they deserve,” Martin tells the cameraman. “They’re being sent back overseas and we’re fighting for their right to heal.”
Also appearing in the episode are Rev. Jesse Jackson, Barry Romo, Vietnam Veterans Against the War member who helped organize the 1971 throwing back of service medals by veterans.
Musician Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Nightwatchman) is also in the first part of the new film.
Learn more and obtain free poster: Art and creative expression are important to Iraq Veterans Against the War in is work to create a culture of GI and veteran resistance. In special collaboration for IVAW’s Operation Recovery campaign, members of the Just Seeds Artists Cooperative have developed original poster designs depicting war resisters and the trauma of war. Learn more and obtain free posters here.
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