For almost three years Coffee Strong has been at the center of pro-soldier, anti-war activism. In the past we have campaigned to end unjust Stop-Loss policies, secure the release of war resisters and prisoners of conscience, and bring a close to the U.S. wars overseas.
Recently Coffee Strong has been involved in a growing movement to bring to light the untold stories of soldiers, veterans, and military families that we rarely hear in the mainstream media. These include the stories of those most affected by the U.S. military’s inadequate mental health care system, soldiers applying for status as conscientious objectors, and the troops in the field witnessing firsthand the injustice of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. We have seen firsthand how exposing one story or supporting the voice of one person who refuses to be silent can lead to many more stories coming to light.
This year alone we have served over 2,000 active-duty personnel. And now we need your help. Coffee Strong is seeking to raise $20,000 in the month of September to continue the struggle to end the wars and support veterans and the military community.
Here’s a rundown of recent events and ongoing work by Coffee Strong and its parent organization G.I. Voice:
We recently held the first State of the Soldier Address, a unique opportunity for active-duty personnel, veterans, and military family members to speak about the issues that matter most to them.
We are currently campaigning in support of Ashley Joppa-Hagemann whose husband was deployed 8 times to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army Rangers before committing suicide. We were there with Ashley as she confronted Donald Rumsfeld about the lies that led her husband and the United States of America to war.
We supported the Free PFC Ryan Reed campain, openly demanding his immediate release from Fort Hood.
We were recently featured in the award-winning documentary, Grounds for Resistance, produced by Dr. Lisa Gilman of the University of Oregon.
We continue to anonymously link veteran and soldier survivors of PTSD, military sexual trauma, and other combat/noncombat related injuries to civilian counselors, therapists, and medical professionals.
We offer information about applying for conscientious objector status as well as other options for separating from military service.
We support and provide GI Rights counseling to soldiers in cases of command abuse, rights violations, and other matters.
We provide weekly veterans’ benefits assistance, helping veterans and soldiers navigate the bureaucratic process of accessing disability benefits.
We held two soldier/veteran art showcases featuring artwork and live performances from local soldier and veteran artists.
We host monthly movie nights and discussions attended by soldiers and activists, exposing soldiers to films such as Heavy Metal Baghdad, Sir! No Sir!, Taxi to the Darkside, Manufacturing Consent, and Occupation Has No Future.
We held a concert at Coffee Strong featuring Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda in an effort to bring together soldiers and Iraqis.
We offer meeting space for Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW), and other activist groups.
We coordinate with educators to bring “Truth in Recruiting” presentations featuring combat veterans and war resisters in local high school classrooms
We currently employ two combat veterans from the Iraq war.
And as always, we continue to offer free coffee and Americanos to Enlisted personnel!
Despite headlines to the contrary, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan show no signs of winding down. Recently Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated U.S. forces would stay in Iraq for at least one more year and, according to the Telegraph, the United States could remain an occupying force in Afghanistan until 2024. As the wars drag on, thousands from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are feeling the weight of repeated deployments, PTSD, military sexual trauma, and other negative effects of military service.
With election season upon us, this is the moment to build a campaign to the end the wars and Coffee Strong is one of a handful of anti-war projects laying the critical groundwork for such a movement. Moreover, Coffee Strong is working daily to support soldiers, veterans, and their families, offering vital services the military is either unwilling or unable to provide.
We want to continue fighting but we can’t do it without your help. Please partner with us by becoming a sustaining donorand support our efforts to expose military injustice, end the wars, and provide vital resources for active-duty personnel, veterans, and military families.
To make a donation click here or the “Please Donate” button on the righthand side of your screen.
Thank you for your continued support.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ann & Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry
Contact: Seth Manzel
Executive Director of G.I. Voice
Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry, a decorated disabled American Veteran, is the victim of an ongoing witch hunt since the 9/11 attacks, and is being deported back to Pakistan where he will “inevitably be murdered by the Taliban for his service in the U.S. Army,” says Seth Manzel Executive Director of G.I. Voice. He came here legally over 13 years ago and has been married to a native born citizen for nearly 10 years. Their suit against the INS in Federal US district court for citizenship was dismissed on October 26, 2010 on summary judgement without any trial or opportunity to further present their circumstances.
The main issue is that Chaudhry qualifies for citizenship on so many basis, and there are no legal grounds to deny him citizenship. He qualified for and filed an application to become a U.S. citizen under the military naturalization program in 2003 (which INS claimed they lost) and again in 2004, which requires the U.S. government to provide expedited processing for citizenship applications for individuals in the armed forces. His military awards include: National Defence Service Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal W/M Device and the Army Service Ribbon.
He has never broken any U.S. laws, and has been married to a U.S. citizen for nearly10 years. He qualifies for citizenship based on “married to US citizen” also. Additionally, before injuries in service of our Nation left him in a wheel chair, he was an avid community volunteer. He served for thousands of hours as an unpaid volunteer for the American Red Cross (both as a general volunteer and as youth co-ordinator), unpaid Ready Reserve volunteer in the Fire Department (carrying pager 24/7 & responding to fire emergencies),Habitat for Humanity and plenty of other worthwhile community and civic organizations.
Last but not least, the Chaudhrys have two children and four grandchildren; they do not wish for their family and friends to be ripped apart by an uncaring, inefficient federal bureaucracy acting with repressive measures.
Chaudhry is scheduled for a deportation hearing at the immigration court in Seattle on Wednesday January 12, 2011 at 1PM and he has no legal representation. The couple reports that Senator Patty Murray’s staff, Lindsay Herbst, often sends them an email saying to “hang in there” and that they are “working on it”– a behaviour of our top politicians for the last 7 to 8 years. They have spent tens of thousands of dollars in this struggle for Justice, not to mention lost opportunity. “Our physical, spiritual, mental & financial capabilities have been torn asunder & ground to nothingness by this great Nation we both love & have served so much and continue to serve,” says Ann Chaudhry.
They are calling for the community to support them by writing emails, letters or calling Senator Patty Murray’s secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone listings: 206-553-2195 Seattle or DC office below:
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2621
Fax: (202) 224-0238
Toll Free: (866) 481-9186
You can see a short video clip of Chaudhry’s speech at Interfaith Forum on Immigration in Washington, DC at the website.
A National Exhibition of Artist Books Addressing
Our Social, Political or Environmental World
June 3 – 26, 2010
Jim Lommasson, talented photographer and interviewer, has created a one-of-a- kind, handmade book for sale at a gallery in Portland.
The title of the book is: I Wouldn’t Wish this War on My Worst Enemy. The content is photos by soldiers, excerpts from interviews and letters.
The price is $800. The gallery will get a commission if it sells.
Coffee Strong will benefit from this sale, and we deeply appreciate the work and heart put into supporting these veterans.
If you are interested in viewing the book, bidding on it, or know someone who would appreciate this work, please let us know at email@example.com. The address for the gallery is in the link below.
I Wouldn’t Wish War on My Worst Enemy
A collection of photographs taken by American soldiers after their return from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The book includes quote by the soldiers and families and an essay by a mother of a twice-deployed Marine who said, “Mom, I wouldn’t wish war on my worst enemy.”
The end papers are scans of the last Iraqi newspaper published while Saddam Hussein was in power. There are no photographs or writing by myself. Lommasson tells us, “I want this book to feel like it is it’s own thing, with no outside authorship. I would like an unsuspecting viewer to wonder where the book came from, almost as if it fell out of the sky. “ The only credits are the names of the soldiers and family members after their quote.
Here is a link to the show: http://www.23sandy.com/bookpower/catalog.html
The exhibit Opens on June 4.