Veterans Affairs Commission
This section includes hyperlinks and descriptions of resources for veterans, links to organizations within the peace movement, and educational resources. As communists we should identify, strengthen, and help advance the progressive forces within our society and as veterans we are in a privileged position to speak about the realities of war and imperialism, therefore we should not only be concerned with the lot of veterans in society, we should be engaged in the peace movement and in educating our communities about the need for peace.
The guide below is meant to be an aid to assist veterans to:
1) seek out resources and information concerning US veterans policy so that we may help each other use the benefits that are available to us and advocate for their protection and expansion; 2) identify valuable organizations within the American peace movement to work with, these forces are crucial for building mass support for anti-imperialism within the imperialist core; and 3) to provide veterans with educational resources about American imperialism, war, and peace.
I.Resources for Veterans
1. Department of Veterans Affairs: This is the homepage for the VA, it is the starting point to learning about the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Educational Benefits, Disability claims, housing assistance and any services that are currently offered to veterans (https://www.va.gov/). If you need help making a disability claim or inquiring about military records follow this link (https://iris.custhelp.va.gov/app/ask), or feel free to ask the PCUSA Veterans Affairs Commission for assistance.
2. Veterans Crisis Line: This is a free counseling service for all veterans, all active duty service members, or family and friends of either. It is confidential and available 24/7. If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide call at (1-800-273-8255), then press 1, or visit: (https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/).
3. Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E): Also known as Vocational Rehabilitation this is an employment and educational program for veterans with at least a 10% disability rating. Veterans can use VocRehab to help them finance education needed for training or they may use it to help them transition into the civilian labor force. (https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/).
4. Helmets to Hardhats: Program that gives veterans assistance if they want to learn a trade after separation from the armed services. Learning a trade usually entails a period of 4-5 years of paid apprenticeship (on-the-job training), some examples include ironworking, millwrighting, pipefitting, welding, and carpentry (https://helmetstohardhats.org/).
5. US Department of Agriculture Veterans Farming Program: Resources for veterans interested in agriculture, contains educational, financial and business planning resources (https://www.nal.usda.gov/aglaw/veteran-farming).
6. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Veterans Assistance: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers offers paid electrician apprenticeships, believes veterans make great employees and union members
7. Troops to Energy: Offers hundreds of resources on energy related apprenticeships as well as road maps for career guidance (https://www.troopstoenergyjobs.com/).
8. G.I. Rights Hotline: Counseling and information on military discharges, AWOL, conscientious objection, etc. Assistance is confidential and free of charge. Visit their website at (www.girightshotline.org) or call their hotline at (877-447-4487).
9. Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild (MLTF): Attorneys who specialize in military law and can provide a free initial consultation. Visit their website (www.nlgmltf.org) or call them at (619-463-2369).
10. The Center on Conscience & War: Non governmental non-profit organization that advocates for conscientious objectors. Visit their website (https://centeronconscience.org) or call them at (1-800-379-2679).
11. Save Our VA Campaign: National campaign of Veterans for Peace to oppose the increasing privatization of the Veterans Health Administration (https://saveourva.org/).
12. Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute: Research institute that tracks and
analyzes all government policy concerning the Veterans Health Administration and disabilities services (https://www.veteranspolicy.org/).
13. Veterans Yoga Project: An educational and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of military veterans (https://www.veteransyogaproject.org/).
II. Peace Movement Organizations
1. Veterans for Peace: A non-governmental international veterans organization dedicated to exposing the costs of war and building a culture of peace (https://www.veteransforpeace.org).
2. US Peace Council: “The US Peace Council is a multi-racial, pro-working class, anti imperialist organization committed to peace, economic and social justice and to international solidarity with the peoples of the world, . . . affiliated with the World Peace Council, the world’s largest peace organization and an NGO member of the United Nations” (https://uspeacecouncil.org/).
3. United National Antiwar Coalition: A coalition of peace organizations that fight against wars at home and abroad, and seek to “unify in collective action against the major perpetrator of war and injustice in the world: the U.S. government, along with its allies and proxies” (https://www.unacpeace.org/).
4. About Face | Veterans Against the War: Organization of Post-9/11 veterans who are opposed to war and advocate for peace and social justice (https://aboutfaceveterans.org/).
5. Courage to Resist: Advocacy organization for war resisters and conscientious objectors (https://couragetoresist.org/).
6. School of the Americas Watch: “SOA Watch began in 1990 to denounce the 1989 School of the Americas (SOA) graduate-led massacre at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador. The SOA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, is a US military training school based in Fort Benning, Georgia. The school made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place.”
SOA Watch “strive[s] to expose, denounce, and end US militarization, oppressive US policies and other forms of state violence in the Americas. We act in solidarity with organizations and movements working for justice and peace throughout the Americas” (https://soaw.org/home/).
7. World Beyond War: a “global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace” (https://worldbeyondwar.org/).
8. International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons: International campaign dedicated to prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons. Consists of many partner organizations around the world (https://www.icanw.org/).
9. Code Pink: “a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs” (https://www.codepink.org/).
10. Military Families Speak Out: “an organization of military families across the US and around the world who are opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and have a loved one currently serving in the military, who has served in the military since 9/11 or who has died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”
11. Black Alliance for Peace (BAP): “seeks to recapture and redevelop the historic anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-peace positions of the radical black movement. Through educational activities, organizing and movement support, organizations and individuals in the Alliance will work to oppose both militarized domestic state repression, and the policies of de-stabilization, subversion and the permanent war agenda of the U.S. state globally“ (https://blackallianceforpeace.com/).
1. Brown University, Costs of War Project: A project of the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs that researches the human, economic, social, and cultural costs of the Post 9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the related conflicts in Pakistan and Syria (https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/).
2. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI): An independent international research institute dedicated to studying war, conflict, arms proliferation, arms control, and disarmament around the world (https://sipri.org/).
3. National Priorities Project: An organization that tracks federal spending on the military and promotes “a U.S. federal budget that represents Americans' priorities, including funding for people's issues such as inequality, unemployment, education, health and the need to build a green economy”
4. Vietnam Full Disclosure: Oral history project of Vietnam-era war resisters and veterans who wish to tell about their experiences in Vietnam. Publishes Peace & Planet News in collaboration with Veterans for Peace New York City Chapter (https://www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org/).
5. United States Foreign Policy: This is a blog that documents the history of American wars. (http://peacehistory-usfp.org/)
Veterans Affairs Commission Statement on the Occasion of Memorial Day 2020
This Memorial Day, May 25th, 2020, the Veterans Affairs Commission of the Party of Communists USA would like to take the opportunity to honor all American and foreign service members, combatants, and civilians who have lost their lives or have suffered from physical and mental wounds during war. As military veterans, we have experienced first-hand what being in armed conflict was like and must ask ourselves if the ultimate sacrifice paid by American service members was in service for our country or for the profit making of capitalists?
As we celebrate this holiday, the American ruling class and the Military Industrial Complex push us further towards war and continue to raise tensions with multiple different countries. In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a time where international solidarity is more important than ever, those of us who know the true cost of war—whether having directly fought in one, or having lost friends and loved ones due to wars—must stand firmly against the capitalist's warmongering. We urge that all Americans use this Memorial Day to reflect on the causes of war, the costs of war, and the need for peace. We value active duty service members, military veterans, and their families for their courage and self-sacrifice in the service of our country. However, we reserve criticism of the U.S. government, its imperialist foreign policy, and its wanton willingness to sacrifice human life and labor—overwhelmingly from the working class, and peoples of oppressed nationalities—for the material interests of transnational corporations.
The military presence in high schools in the form of JROTC or military recruiting tables serves to begin the pipeline in which economically disadvantaged children are offered a one-way ticket to solving all their problems. The ranks of combatants in war are filled by working people of all nationalities who are used like pawns, as cannon-fodder, by military and government leaders to enforce a system ideologically concealed from them, a system of international exploitation and oppression, i.e. imperialism.
Imperialism is caused by monopoly capitalism. To prevent the continuation of imperialist wars, the bosses’ wars, we must remove their causes, causes inherent to the profit system. We must make it clear that we will no longer lay down our lives or the lives of our loved ones at the altar of profit for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and the Trump administration. To abolish war, we need first to abolish the profit system. We should remember the fallen soldiers, the survivors, the families of fallen soldiers, but we should not forget all the victims of war, including combatants on either side and those civilians caught in the crossfire. Everyone affected by war is a victim of war. We urge all Americans, all service members, military veterans, survivors, and families of those who have lost their lives fighting in American wars to think critically about war and society this Memorial Day and to consider our collective potential for peace.
No to Imperialist War!
Solidarity and comradely regards,
Veterans Affairs Commission, Party of Communists USA