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(This commentary piece also appears in THE VETERAN, Fall 2011 (Volume 41, Number 2).)

From The National Office

By Joe Miller

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Welcome to the Fall 2011 issue of The Veteran.

As the years pass, we in the veterans' movement continue to experience the pain or excitement of significant anniversaries. Notable anniversaries for 2011 include: 40 years since VVAW's Dewey Canyon III, 20 years since the first Gulf War and 10 years since the beginning of our war in Afghanistan.

As a way of reminding us all of the origins of VVAW's continuing opposition to the war in Afghanistan, we are also reprinting our October 2001 statement against the use of military force.

It is also significant that this issue marks 40 years since The Veteran began publication (see page 34).

In our Spring issue we reported some on the uprisings in Madison, Wisconsin. As we go to press, the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread across the country. "Something's happening here..." And, it is perfectly clear that the American people, the 99%, are on the move. We agree with Andrew Young's assessment of the Occupy protests: "There's a difference between an emotional outcry and a movement. This is an emotional outcry. The difference is organization and articulation."

We believe that organizations, such as VVAW and IVAW, can help provide a veterans and GI perspective to these struggles, lending our skills and resources to help transition the "outcry" to a lasting movement for change. We have already seen veteran participation in a range of these events, and we need to continue our presence and our support in any way possible.

We must highlight the role the ongoing US wars have played in the ongoing financial crisis. Once again we see this as a rich man's war(s) and the poor man's (and woman's) fight.

We must demand an end to these wars and demand that the government provide full benefits, including the best in medical treatment, for returning vets. We also demand that the treatment of current vets not come at the expense of veterans from past wars. The true cost of war involves taking care of all veterans, for the duration, no matter the cost.

We also need to fight against those in both parties caught up in the "deficit reduction" madness. Cutting Medicare, Social Security and VA benefits will do nothing except further punish those of us who have paid our dues, worked our whole lives and fought their wars.

Long term, VVAW continues to provide quality Military Counseling at no charge. We continue to provide IVAW's Field Organizing Program with crucial financial support. And, as we have done for nearly forty years, VVAW continues to be directly involved in the struggle for victims of Agent Orange, here and in Vietnam.

We encourage all VVAW members and supporters to do what you can where you can — Get Involved! Speak at schools. Be active participants in anti-war and Occupy demos. Work with local IVAW chapters and help pass on the lessons of VVAW to the next generation. We still have lots of work to do — there is no discharge from the struggle for peace and social justice!

Joe Miller is a VVAW National Coordinator who lives in Urbana, Illinois.

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