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From the National Office

By Joe Miller and Barry Romo

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Members, Friends and Supporters of Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

Welcome to the Fall/Winter 2003 issue of The Veteran.

Much has happened in the world and in the United States since our previous issue, and we hope that the articles you will read here help to provide some context and analysis on which to base your continued activism against the new American empire. We should not allow the struggle for veterans, peace and justice to be quashed or submerged in a culture of fear and cynicism.

On May 1, our "Great Leader," Dubya the Deserter, announced the end of "major" hostilities in Iraq. He was all dressed up for Halloween, pretending to be a military aviator — just one of the troops. [See John Zutz on the "Elite Aviator" doll in this issue.] Well, we could all see through the charade, and it is certain that the folks on board the USS Lincoln did not really appreciate being kept at sea just so their "Commander-in-Chief" could have his photo op. Since Dubya's announcement, more U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq than were killed between March 20 and May 1, with more than 300 dead as of this writing. Also, we do not get much news about the wounded. What is the actual extent of U.S. casualties in this "war of liberation"? Every day we hear of lower morale among the troops, and more criticism of policy from those in the field as well as from former military leaders. As a recent article on Salon.com argued, "George Bush's once-rosy relationship with the military is turning sour." This situation has been reflected in the growth of VVAW. We are still getting more applications for membership and more active members who are willing to function as VVAW Contacts in their areas.

Military families have also joined with the opposition. This past summer saw the formation of a coalition of families, veterans, active-duty personnel, reservists and others in the "Bring Them Home Now" movement. VVAW has joined with other veterans' groups in support of this movement, and we expect to see more and more activity around this effort. To keep up to date on these activities, consult their website at www.bringthemhomenow.org.

Those of you who do not have access to the Internet can contact them by mail at P.O Box 91233, Raleigh, NC, 27675.

Finally, VVAW Contacts are the public face of our organization. We do not have paid staff who can travel around the country to organize our members. Most of us in the National Office have full-time jobs that make this impossible. So, those individuals whose names appear on the opposite page must be the front line of our organization, must clearly represent VVAW in whatever way they can, as often as they can. VVAW has a distinct history in the veterans' peace and justice movement, as the longest-running organization of this type. Our work began against our war in 1967, and we have not quit, thanks to the dedication of members and supporters who have volunteered their time and money to keep us going. And with each new military adventure of the United States, we gain new and younger members who see in VVAW something they do not find in other groups. As reflected in this issue's two front-page articles, our analysis is consistently radical and anti-imperialist, not in a knee-jerk, unthinking way, but in a way that encourages social justice activism among the broadest numbers possible. The VVAW insignia gets attention, and our presentations in high schools and colleges have impact.

We encourage all VVAW members, and especially those who have volunteered to be Contacts, to make themselves known in their communities as VVAW spokespeople. We have a history to be proud of, a history that still has lessons to offer in the struggles to bring about peace and social justice in our country and worldwide. Let's get to it!

Joe Miller and Barry Romo are national coordinators of VVAW.

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