by Greg Foisie – volunteer for Change-links, KPFK, Addicted to War, and the Arlington West Memorial Santa Monica operated by Veterans for Peace Los Angeles
GI “Rights” Are Not Rights – A review of human and labor rights, with an introduction to GI “rights” and related provisions in the context of militarism.
Synopsis – The necessity for the fulfillment of basic human needs are what are generally identified as being human and labor rights. Soldier (GI) “rights” are not rights in this regard. GI “rights” are learning how to deal with red tape – how military members must proceed in order to attempt to address abuse and other situations they incur while being in or after having left the military. To call GI “rights” rights is inaccurate. It confuses the understanding of what military experience really is, because it gives a false impression that GI’s have rights. While many of their basic needs might be met, what GIs have for the most part are not rights, but orders and procedures that must be followed.
Human rights – This issue of Change-links is dedicated to labor issues. We all labor in one capacity or another, including GIs (U.S. troops/soldiers). The subject of labor, an effort constituting a majority of human endeavor, is also directly connected to the concept of what are defined as “rights” in human experience. Generally speaking, these human rights – for those who see them as such – are often classified as either civil, political, economic, social, or cultural in nature. They include consideration of a broad spectrum of conditions including childhood, spirituality, legally recognized status, and the concept of equality, as well as offering protection for personal, familial, employment, and international relationships.
Why is access to the means of fulfilling fundamental needs considered a right ascribed to people? – Many observers have concluded that access to certain basic need requirements by humans is so necessary that if they are inaccessible, the results are the physical, emotional, and mental suffering of those doing without, along with the accompanied suffering of others dependent upon those individuals. It is this injustice of having basic needs out of reach that has their obtainment designated as rights – provisions that must be acquired for a basic level of determined human decency to exist. In other words, the denial of such resources is seen as allowing injustice to prevail.
Why are people worthy of rights? – The conception of rights is connected to the idea of inherent worth. Belief that every human being has a meaningful purpose in life, potential, capacity, and due dignity leads to the determination that they are deserving of having basic functions supported by societies. After all, these same human collaborations claim to be of and for their constituents.
Given the precept that people matter and are deserving of their necessities, the concept of human rights evolved from an ethical mandate to meet people’s basic need requirements (labor or otherwise) in order to have individuals reach their potential and achieve social well-being. So ubiquitous and essential are these characteristics and needs that recognition and support for human rights are generally described as being both egalitarian (applicable to everyone) and universal (applicable everywhere).
The social effort ensuring the provision of necessities is a reflection of the collective aspect of what it means to have and be in a society or community where people come to live and prosper together. Adherence to this goal is accompanied by an understanding that society as a whole will also benefit as its members benefit. Like any mechanism composed of parts, a society can only be as functional as its parts are functional.
The existence of “human” rights is seen by most people as a reflection of a worldview entertaining respect and empathy for others. If a society’s culture embraces this worldview, a collective response from its members will acknowledge human rights as a natural expression from people to people, addressing the social conditions humans find themselves in.
Compassion is another motivator supporting the recognition of rights. When suffering is encountered or perceived, a compassionate reaction evokes responses of love and kindness seeking to remedy that situation. The implementation of a rights-based approach to life serves to ensure such support and care, and promises to reduce suffering.
Under a rights-based social arrangement, the fundamental needs of each person are important and taken into account when allocating the society’s budget and resources. When it is a society’s intent to make sure everyone’s essential living requirements are met, this recognition of and adherence to human worth creates a value priority. This priority places the well-being of each person before other considerations, such as further-enhancing the benefits accrued by other individuals or groups in society who might already be well-off. Total benefit to the whole is seen as more important than supporting the ability of a few to obtain disproportionate wealth and power while millions lack the most basic of provisions.
Determining, defining and providing support for human rights helps set the conditions for people-centered, people-created environments in which humans experience life’s full benefits and potential, including human experience in work, scholastic, medical, and leisure environments.
When the wealthy and powerful control a society, that society’s interest in the wellbeing of all of its citizens is usually diminished, because the society is under the control of a few who operate it for their benefit at the expense of the well-being of their fellow, less financially-endowed.
What are human and labor rights? – While the concept is considered controversial amongst such elite, the recognition of rights for humans remains established. Acceptance of the concept of human rights by a majority of nations essentially requires inalienable guarantees of support meeting inherent, basic needs in human experience.
The understanding of human rights relates to recognition that in order for people to live decently, the conditions enabling them to meet their most basic needs must be assured. Believing that essential human needs must be fulfilled under social conditions also implies that allowing humans to suffer by having fundamentals central to well-being remain absent is the same as intentionally allowing abuse to flourish. Such onerous conditions have existed and have been consciously perpetuated in most cultures by domineering powers throughout human history. Human rights advocates consider such a state of affairs destructive to human development and unfair to anyone whose basic needs go unmet.
An early example of a general guarantee of some of these “human rights” is the U.S. Bill of Rights appending the U.S. Constitution. The rights it refers to are the rights of human beings.
Much of the impetus for the modern development of human rights convention came after mankind experienced the horrors of World War I. A more comprehensive understanding of human rights evolved from 1948 to 2008, as international documents such as treaties and other human-rights instruments were created specifically recognizing human rights in a wide variety of categories including those mentioned above.
Examples of major documents recognizing and outlining human rights include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and numerous additional covenants. Collectively, these instruments have effectively created defacto international human-rights law.
Labor rights are legally-recognized workers’ human rights, often codified through employment and labor law that may specify relations and conditions between workers and their employers. From a human rights perspective, labor rights could be assigned to a number of human rights categories: health benefit rights and safe working conditions as social rights; unionization under the social right of freedom of association; freedom from discrimination under civil rights; the right to work under economic rights; and so on.
To summarize … meeting basic human needs becomes a moral requirement because of the realization that if basic needs are not met, humans suffer. From a societal point of view, making sure these primary needs are addressed is defined as fulfilling human rights and establishing social justice. It is determined that societies must attend to these fundamental and essential requirements in order for well-being to exist across the board so that humanity can successfully prosper. To deny acknowledgement of human rights ascribes to a rationale that undermines the creation of social frameworks supporting a person’s ability to obtain the basics required to live a healthy, decent life.
As moral issues, the conception and provision of human and labor rights are expressed as proclamations in what are considered legally-binding agreements by most nations through international law. These statements and mandates provide incentives to direct and regulate behavior between humans, their peers, and their institutions to ensure that basic human needs are met. Over the past 60 years, a wide variety of human rights have been determined and enshrined in numerous conventions signed between the majority of countries around the world. In addition, in an effort to ensure these rights are protected, they are codified in the laws of their governments and norms of their cultures.
What is a GI? – Between 1915 and 1920, the abbreviation GI stood for “galvanized iron.” It was used in U.S. Army bookkeeping to denote articles like trash cans made from it. Over time, the term applied to all standardized U.S. military-issued articles as an assumed abbreviation of the term “government issue.” Later it indicted the characteristic of rigid, regimented adherence to military regulations and practices, as in “one soldier being more GI than another.” Finally the word came to signify a member or a former member of the U.S. armed forces, especially enlisted soldiers.
GI “rights” and the context of military training – At the same time as human rights are recognized in most civilian societies, almost all countries simultaneously have military forces that procure weaponry and training for the purposes of sustaining armament capability. These forces stand ready to deploy against others in order to destroy life and property in the process of imposing their will on those violated in this manner. The rational for such forces usually professes claims to self-defense and/or advancing altruistic ends which would support environments nurturing human rights with attributes such as “democracy,” “freedom,” “liberty,” “justice,” and “equality/” However, it is readily apparent to those willing to look that the imposition of violent force by military invasion, destruction, occupation, and oppression actually have ill effect on those very rights – including rights as basic as self-determination, safety of person, and even the most basic right to life itself.
Due to their brazen employment of overt violence, military and military-like operations are unique in human experience. There is a need to completely control people comprising a military force preparing for or engaging in armed combat scenarios. Their societies authorize them to use lethal force to kill people under certain instances. To direct human behavior, whether it be under the great stress and the dangers inherent in battle or under violent circumstances encountered by law enforcement, requires special training that re-arranges the psyche of those involved.
From the onset of military recruitment, low-level participants are belittled and psychologically castrated in order to prepare them for the tasks of war. They are fiercely and completely dominated for the purpose of breaking the recruits down psychologically. Common terms of reference serving this purpose for their new identities (that are often screamed endlessly) include “scum,” “maggot,” “sissy,” “jar-head,” “grunt,” etc. In addition to rigorous physical preparation, these new recruits are often physically abused to the point of exhaustion for the slightest of infractions, even if the same is simply an honest, minor error. Boot camp training also includes the thorough demonization of the enemy of the day. These abusive practices are continued in variety of forms and degrees until the newly enlisted graduates become “killers.” Why would people so treated or characterized be seen as human enough to be deserving of rights?
Boot camp is a highly specialized conditioning formulated over hundreds of years. It successfully reprograms its graduates to denigrate other human beings and to become completely subservient to their superiors. After what is essentially brainwashing, processed recruits become capable of killing other human beings on command without a second thought – acts not normally entered into in such a way by most humans.
This description is an accurate depiction of military training and preparation of actual engagement in war. The same is true for the act of war itself, which is arguably the most horrific and vile of all human endeavor, bar none. In most societies such understandings are not acknowledged as reality. These travesties may be dismissed outright, or accepted as necessary evils, denied by being glossed over, or covered up. They are replaced by immaculately tailored uniforms, the waving of flags, boisterous parades, medals signifying bravery, the professed glory of combat, and self-gratifying platitudes.
So for military conditioning to take place and be successfully employed, countries have established armed forces whose members do not enjoy all of the rights that their regular fellow citizens enjoy given the demands of military preoccupation. This circumstance is necessitated by the nature of theaters of armed conflict and their support systems. Some of those human rights, including certain forms of freedom including expression and association and the concepts of equality and seeking redress are curtailed or suspended while in the military. If such human rights were allowed in the military, then the military’s requirement to completely control its subordinates would be compromised.
This situation is an indication that military life is in fact dehumanizing, certainly as far as the employment of a full slate of human rights are concerned. In effect, military recruits agree to give up many civilian human rights and become dehumanized themselves when they sign on the dotted line and join the military. However, there are other aspects of the military that include conditions and situations that are unique to military experience and specific to military personnel. The means of addressing these unique circumstances of the military woman and man are what are usually referred to as GI “rights.”
An introduction to GI “rights” in the context of militarism – (Does the U.S. military establishment really care about its troops?) – One could assume there are GI “rights” that could be seen as elements within the categories of civil, political, economic, social, or cultural rights. Because for most GI’s their experience is within the context of one-sided contractual labor, one might also suppose that GI “rights” could also be understood as a form of labor rights. However, a review of listed GI “rights” reveals they are in a category entirely their own.
Prior to entering military service, recruits are presented a lot of enticing information suggesting branches of service offer tremendous opportunities for self-improvement, empowerment, and betterment through enlistment and service. This invocation implies the U.S. military has the best interest of its recruits at heart and may recognize real rights.
Certainly the U.S. armed forces care about their troops as elements functioning well within the military as it seeks to achieve its overall objectives. However, despite assurances to the contrary, much evidence suggests the military cares little for the well-being and holistic advancement of the lowest levels of individuals comprising it, unless the institution is a direct beneficiary from such support.
The violence inherent in the military mindset effects its behavior towards its own subsets. Revelations of thousands of abuses of U.S. military service personnel over recent years include the following:
* the expansive, continuing incidence of rape and sexual assault in the military, including numerous accounts of assault by the upper echelon of the military and others specifically in charge of preventing assault (sexual abuse is experienced by one out of three women in the U.S. military [in 2012 that was approximately 26,000 instances of sexual abuse], while at the same time the U.S. claims emancipation of women as a rational for invasions of other countries)
* the poisoning of entire military squadrons and communities, continually covering up these realities through decades of denial regarding the exposure of U.S. troops to life-threatening toxins such as agent orange and numerous other dioxin-laden defoliants in Vietnam, depleted uranium in Iraq, and in 39,000 contaminated state-side sites (including 141 Superfund sites) affecting thousands of military bases at home and abroad (similar to Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, North Carolina) made toxic by everything from radio-active waste and biological weapons to industrial poisonous gases and water-born pollutants escaping from chemical weapons graveyards and vast deposits of gasoline
* the creation and the sustaining of a military culture perpetuating thousands of instances of degradation, torture, kidnapping, and murder (all illegal under international rules of war to which the U.S. is a signatory), scapegoating low level troops when abuses are publicized, and fully exonerating most of the upper echelon in charge (see below)
* centuries of pervasive corruption and lying to U.S. troops and the public, effectively preventing awareness of the reality of the horrors of war, recent examples of this practice made public by whistleblower Chelsea Manning (see August, 2014’s edition of Change-links).
* the corruption of the processes governing military funding, military spending, and other military operations, where trillions of dollars are lost through waste, or overcharging, or they simply disappear, and no one is held accountable for such losses
* a past history of unconscionable, decrepit conditions in military hospitals and medical facilities serving our troops
* the current corruption of admission records to hide extensive delays in provision of VA medical care resulting in the premature deaths of hundreds of military personnel
* rampant prescription of psychotropic drugs to veterans and active duty military personnel as the primary means to expediently but ineffectively deal with cases of severe PTSD
* the past and current use of GIs as guinea pigs for the testing of substances or their intentional exposure to toxins such as the effects of atomic radiation during WW II, experimental vaccines during the Gulf War, and depleted uranium in battle and toxic fumes from dumps on bases during the Iraq War
* vast instances of both military-associated state-side murders and veteran/active-duty suicides, each set of tragedies out of proportion (up to double) when compared with other segments of society
* and the discrediting, excommunication, torture, and imprisonment of military whistle-blowers like Manning, whose crime is essentially revealing hidden truths.
All these grievous situations reveal a well-documented, serious lack of concern for the health and overall well-being of military personnel and the public they serve by the military institutions they are a part of and the country they have pledged to defend against all enemies – foreign and domestic.
In this context, the concept of GI “rights” is a misnomer. When examined, it is evident the pretense of “rights” does not even possess token merit. GI “rights” exist as sets of guidelines on paper. They are directives in the form of counseled advice or written procedure on how to navigate the dizzying array of legal requirements (red tape) and practical realities for addressing abuse or other situations encountered by the GI in the military, and nothing more. Ultimately, what are called rights are merely the system’s attempt to offer a semblance of accountability dealing with various forms of violence within its own ranks.
Unfortunately, many GI “rights” are regulations that can arbitrarily be followed or not, based on the position command states it is adhering to at any given moment, or even on the whim of those in immediate command of troops. This is because those with rank often hold significant discretionary power as to how procedures are followed, what decisions are made, or how leniency is dispensed. The enforcement of “rights” on a military base is “in-house,” or reconsidered by military brass or elements of society attempting jurisdictional review such as congressional committees that fully support the military mindset.
How are GI “rights” categorized? – A large number of military-related mandates have been recognized by or created as a result of the world’s prior experience in military conflict. The exercise of these rules of war could be viewed as “rights” not to have abuses placed upon the GI when at war with others, despite the fact that when war is exercised it is first and foremost an abuse and abrogation of human rights.
These protections afforded GIs are identified and defined through international conventions to which countries are signatories, such as the Geneva Convention, including the “rights” not to be tortured and not to be forced to reveal sensitive information about your unit and only state your name, rank, and serial number, etc. . For many countries, these international agreements and treaties are considered the “comparable to the highest laws in the land” (including the USA). Thus these requirements are then incorporated into a military’s own laws, policies, and regulations, if they do not already exist as such. These types of “rights” are identified as international protocol or part of a unit’s code of conduct, and they are taught to GI’s as a part of their indoctrination into military perspective, norms, and expected behavior. Most of these rules can be recognized as protections for GI’s during times of war, but these protections against harm in such situations are not what are normally classified as GI “rights.”
What is Military Law? – Comparable to civilian life, the U.S. federal government and varied branches of the U.S. Military have their own military-specific sets of laws, regulations, policies, and procedures. These include the Unified Code of Military Justice. It is in these documents that GI “rights” as they are understood are identified and specified, and the means to determine and address their violation are outlined, to whatever degree the same is allowed.
The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild (https://nlgmltf.org/) categorizes what are popularly referred to as GI “rights” into these areas:
* Benefit and Assistance – a wide range of supports are offered to active duty military and veterans that are not received by many GIs – thousands of active duty military and veterans who are denied benefits have to “fight” to gain recognition of their status and then continue to struggle to actually receive and continue receiving benefits awarded them.
* Discharges and Separation – for people wishing to leave the military, their contractual obligations are totally one-sided and binding – during war time, desertion is an offense punishable by death – discharge issues include being absent without leave (AWOL); entry-level separation; discharges from the delayed entry program; discharges due to dependency or hardship; medical or disability discharges; discharges due to misconduct including drug and alcohol abuse; psychological discharges; conscientious objector discharges (many military are not informed of this status, and in some U.S. military branches are uniformly denied it); homosexual conduct discharges (rescinded); and reservist mobilization & unsatisfactory participation.
* Dissent, Resistance, and Whistleblowing – the U.S.A. has about 100 state and federal laws on the books encouraging and supporting whistleblowing, but if you tell the truth that the public should know revealing wrongdoing by the authorities (including the military), you will in all likelihood be branded a traitor, charged as a criminal, and have your career and life ruined – or worse! – Chelsea Manning’s treatment a case in fact.
* Grievances and Complaints – including issues regarding discrimination, unfair or derogatory treatment, filing complaints, complaints regarding the Board of Correction of Military Records; questions regarding congressional assistance; recruiter abuse; Inspector General complaints; other complaints seeking redress related to equal opportunity and wrongs by a commanding officer, including willful damage to a person’s property or of property wrongfully taken – one procedural example follows:
“… any member of the armed forces who believes himself or herself wronged by his or her commanding officer may request redress. By requesting redress the wronged member of the military is asking that the “problem” be addressed and fixed. Army Regulations  define a “wrong” as: A discretionary act or omission by a commanding officer, under color of Federal military authority, that adversely affects the complainant personally and that is: (1) In violation of law or regulation;? (2) Beyond the legitimate authority of that commanding officer;? (3) Arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion; or ?(4) Materially unfair. If the problem is not addressed and fixed by the commanding officer, a formal complaint (Article 138) can be made to a superior officer (higher in rank to the officer who is responsible for the problem). This will trigger an investigation into the problem by the court-martial convening authority over the commanding officer against which you brought the initial complaint. The investigator should, “examine the complaint and take proper measures for redressing the wrong complained of”  and should report their findings to the Secretary of the Army (or Navy, Air Force etc). Any retribution or reprisals for filing an Article 138 can be the basis for additional complaints” – from Article 138 – the Uniform Code of Military Justice
( https://girightshotline.org/en/military-knowledge-base/topic/grievances-article-138-complaints – See more at: https://girightshotline.org/en/military-knowledge-base/topic/grievances-article-138-complaints#sthash.PVfiG6o0.dpuf )
* Military Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment – large numbers of active duty military women complain of rape and sexual harassment in the military – large numbers of civilians are sexually abused by men in uniform
An examination of this list reveals that most of these “rights” are not rights in the same sense that labor or human rights are understood. As illustrated above, a traditional understanding of rights stipulates that basic levels of access or support are provided that address the fundamental living needs human beings encounter. On the other hand, these GI “rights” categories deal with adverse treatment or decisions including relationships gone sour, harm imposed upon others, denial of promised assistance, dishonorable citations, retaliatory punishment, or attacks due to communication of truth undertaken to disclose wrongdoing and alleviate injustice.
These so called “rights” are not designations supporting the meeting of fundamental human needs. They are an education in the procedural complexities of an institutional behemoth’s legal labyrinth in an attempt to rectify harm imposed upon one by a superior power – trying to follow its rules in seeking a resolution while being totally dominated and controlled by it.
Recall that slaves have some of their basic needs met by their masters in rudimentary fashion. Do those actions mean that the rights of slaves are being recognized and fulfilled? When people are sustained in order to be taken advantage of, the context of such support creates a situation where rights are no longer taken into account despite physical assistance. If freedom, autonomy, or goodwill are denied, the foundation for rights is nonexistent despite the provision of aid. Human worth is not acknowledged under such conditions, and it is impossible for the concept of rights to be honored, much less sustained in any meaningful way for the benefit of those so oppressed.
Violent systems are set up to favor their strongest proponents, and justification’s rational of oppressive response – By its very structure, the military favors its hierarchy, meaning those who have the most vested interest in perpetuating the system they have accrued the highest levels of merit in. This is why when vast injustice is discovered in military circles, it is the lowest-ranked soldiers that receive the most punishment, while the highest in command and in control are not held accountable. In this scenario, a GI’s attempt to seek justice by exercising her or his “rights” is virtually futile.
As one example, during the Iraq War, extensive military-sanctioned degradation and murders took place in Abu Grahib Prison in Iraq. From at least late 2003 to early 2004, Military Police personnel of the U.S. Army and the CIA physically and sexually abused thousands of Iraqi prisoners. These Iraqi’s were deprived of sleep and warmth, subject to sensory deprivation torture, paraded nude – some while being rode as if they were donkeys, defecated on, physically tortured through severe beatings, hangings, and other methods, burnt with phosphoric acid, raped, sodomized, and killed. Despite these extensive human rights violations and hundreds of military personnel aware of these abuses, only a handful of GIs – the majority of them low-ranked specialists – received prison time for this travesty of justice. These individuals may have been guilty of crimes deserving of punishment, yet not one general or commanding officer was held personally responsible for these atrocities, received judicial punishment for them, or served prison time for them. Note not one U.S. military service personnel was convicted of the murder of one detainee.
While these horrors seem unimaginable, they are common place in the wars of men. As another example, during the Winter Soldier gathering in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2008, over the course of four days, over 200 affidavits were filed claiming war crimes and other human rights abuses conducted or observed by US military personnel in Iraq and in Afghanistan. These disclosures receiving hardly any significant mainstream media coverage, as our society continues to deny the reality of war and militarism. The New York Times stated flat out it would not report on such disclosures because those that came forward were opposed to war!
Over the past 50 years, tens of millions of people have died in wars waged around the world under similar circumstances. Volunteers at the Arlington West Memorial in Santa Monica were told one year that hundreds of Marines had applied for CO (conscientious objector) status, and not one Marine received it. Huge injustice is clearly the legacy of war, and the entrenched military systems favor those who are most dedicated in supporting its predispositions, alliances, and massive financial rewards.
Oppression from any military and its insistence on conformity are justified by myths including that an entity is somehow worth more that others around it; that its power can ultimately be good despite the truth that it continually does very bad things; and that the individual interests of many low-level participants by their very nature (individuality) conflict with the interests of the military apparatus as a whole if such interests question or run counter in any way to the established status quo.
Conclusion – The National GI Rights Hotline states their free, confidential services offer accurate information and counseling (not legal advice) on “U.S. military regulations and practice” (https://girightshotline.org/about/). So what constitutes so-called GI “rights” are really notifications of military rules and procedures governing what GI reactions and responses are recognized and allowed when countering oppressive conditions imposed upon the GI by the system s/he is a part of. Most of these “rights” are just the review of extensive details of military law and its protocols. Formally addressing these issues will almost certainly entail the concerns being noted on the personal military records of those involved, and attempts of their resolution will usually pass through numerous levels of command for approval that is often at their discretion.
Militarism is an exercise in machismo and predation. The function of imposing will through military intervention is oppressive and destructive in nature no matter how it is exercised. Militarism is extremely hierarchal and dictatorial. Harm and injustice become military norms that are accepted not just in dealing with a country’s enemies, but in dealing with its own members when it is believed that they have gotten out of line, including the slightest infractions. Disturbing established decorum, including norms that are humiliating and vindictive of those who are weakest in the food chain, is viewed with disfavor. Harm and injustice are inherent attributes of a culture based on killing and destroying others. Enemies include those in your own ranks perceived as shit disturbers.
If people in the military do not deviate from the norm and what is considered appropriate behavior (including being gung-ho and subservient) then all may be well. They may find their military experience to be beneficial in many ways (income, a sense of pride and righteousness, camaraderie, advancement, etc.) However, if a person finds themselves questioning authority, concerned about the violence inherent in military mission or style, discovering that their conscience is troubled due to military involvement, or experiencing a “problem,” then they may be in for trouble from the military. For the sake of the military whole, the parts must be kept in line and be completely obedient to all commands and functions, no matter how derogatory or malevolent the methodology and actions.
The “rights” that are not rights – So GI “rights” are really not rights, as the term is commonly understood. They are sets of advice on following the specific steps of processes. These steps are devised and administered by the very entity that one is being controlled and often maligned by. The processes prescribe how to proceed in response to abuse experienced in dysfunctional and oppressive environments. This abuse may include direct attack, broken promises, indifference, retaliatory punishment, and being castigated and marginalized for truth-telling. These conditions are part and parcel of militarism and its culture as described above.
To call GI “rights” rights muddies the waters of understanding and gives a false impression that GI’s have rights to begin with. Such a belief is not reflective of reality. What GIs have for the most part are not rights at all, but orders and routines to obediently follow. Procedures to follow when one is abused are what so-called GI “rights” in fact are.
What are some national /US-centered organizations assisting those who wish to make military problem inquiries, pursue redress to wrongdoing or change of conscience-related matters, or acquire support for receiving benefits related to GI “rights?”
Quick Services Review
Center on Conscience and War
CCW offers no charge services – participates in the G.I. Rights Hotline – in the event of a military draft, CCW will assist in the placement of conscientious objectors in alternative service programs – opposed to all forms of conscription
Courage to Resist
supports military objectors to illegal war, occupation, & the policies of empire – supports GI resistance …
Disabled American Veterans
DAV provides free assistance to vets obtaining benefits & support earned through their military service
via website: httpss://www.dav.org/contact-us/
(877) I AM A VET?
GI Rights Network
offers GI Rights card & counseling through the GI Rights Hot Line
Grace Under Fire
online resource for women vets -resources to cope with the challenges of readjustment – heal from addiction, alcoholism, depression, relationship troubles, hidden effects of PTSD, military sexual trauma …
via website: https://www.graceafterfire.org/contact-us.html
Iraq Veterans Against the War
IVAW supports resisters to war, COs, & others facing military prosecution for refusal to fight
via website: https://www.ivaw.org/contact-us
Military Law Task Force
the National Lawyers Guild’s (NLG) Military Law Task Force provides advice on dealing with military law and regulations
National Veterans Legal Services Program
NVLSP ensures the US gov honors commitments to vets by providing fed benefits earned through service – its Lawyers Serving Warriors program helps with specific disability claims
National Women Veterans United
NWVU educates women vets re their federal, state and local VA benefits & entitlements – assists women accessing health care, education, employment & resources
an offshoot of the John Birch Society, this group encourages military and law enforcement to support the US Constitution
via website: https://oathkeepers.org/oath/contact/
Service Women’s Action Network
SWAN supports & develops the leadership; community & resources of vets; works to solve problems facing women in uniform; provides and promotes services that are healing to women after their military service experience
via website: https://servicewomen.org/contact/
Swords to Plowshares
counseling, case management, employment, training, housing & legal assistance to 1500 homeless & low-income vets annually in the San Fran region & beyond
Veterans for Peace
VFP exposes the true costs of war, builds a culture of peace, and operates three homeless veterans initiatives
a program of United Spinal Association, VetsFirst assists vets & family members with support and counseling to obtain benefits including PTSD, SBI, lobbying, free assistance, resources, & to navigate the intricate and often confusing VA claims process, and legal representation before the U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
VVAW struggles for rights, needs and dignity of vets; rap groups; exposing the shameful VA neglect of disabled vets & Agent Orange Victims; drafts legislation to improve benefits; amnesty for war resisters &vets with bad discharges
War Resisters League
WRL resists the ongoing wars and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, -it builds a sustainable movement for peace and justice – actively supports those who refuse to pay for war, as well as those who refuse to fight in it – offers resources on war tax resistance, conscientious objection, selective service registration, and GI rights – encourages direct and active resistance to the war machine
Note – May of these groups maintain Facebook and other social networking sites.
Note – There may be local, regional, or internationally-based organizations providing GI “rights” support, including these GI Rights Hotline participants: American Friends Service Committee (North East Regional Office in Cambridge, MA and their office in San Francisco, CA); Flint Hills GI Rights Hotline, Manhattan, KS; Humboldt Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Arcata, CA; Military Counseling Network, Bammental, Germany; New Mexico GI Rights Hotline, Albuquerque, NM; North County San Diego GI Rights Hotline, Carlsbad, CA; Oklahoma GI Rights Hotline, Oklahoma City, OK; Quaker House Of Fayetteville, NC; Resource Center For Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, CA; San Diego Military Counseling Project; and the Seattle Draft And Military Counseling Center in Seattle, WA.
Content for this article was gathered from formally and informally referenced articles on the internet, including Newsweek, Wikipedia, and the websites of GI support organizations such as Service Women’s Action Network, Courage to Resist, GI Rights Hotline, and the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, amongst other internet sources.
Change-links – Article – GI Rights – 07-28-14.doc
Future Article – The Draft: Obligated Conscription to Engage in U.S. War and Its Mechanism, the Selective Service System
What is the draft / conscription? –
A brief history of draft resistence –
How is the draft implemented? –
The USA has been “at war” since 9-11 2001. Why is there no draft now?
What is the poverty draft? – In lieu of formal conscription made widely unpopular by the vast destruction of life caused by the US military incursions into Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. government agreed to meet its military needs by convincing U.S. citizens and foreign conscripts to volunteer to join the U.S. military. It did this by allocating billions of dollars to each branch of the military and other military institutions to establish advertizing campaigns and mechanisms including the creation of public military exhibitions, day-camps, and virtual experiences that glorify war and military life, ignoring the horrific intended and unintended realities created by military violence.
Why do military recruiters intentionally disinform new recruits by misconstruing the reality of military life, military obligations, military benefits, and the general military experience? – The military states it embraces values such as courage, duty, integrity, and honor to direct its conduct. However the high degrees of sexual assault and rape, murder, GI abuse, veteran and active-duty suicide, and military-related corruption in the military and its support systems reveal at that violence is such a central component of the military mind and agenda, affecting its entire experience component of the military directive affects the relationships amongst its own member as well as those they purportedly “serve and protect.” This questionable conduct is also experienced by those considering enlisting in the armed forces. A multi-billion dollar advertising campaign glamorizes the military experience at the same time that many never receive their promised benefits, hundreds of veterans lie languishing in decrepit hospital conditions or die while waiting for treatment, and hundreds of thousands return home wounded – their lives irrevocably damaged due to the violence and horror of war.
Do people entering the military have rights prior to full admission to the military? –
… any member of the armed forces who believes himself or herself wronged by his or her commanding officer may request redress. By requesting redress the wronged member of the military is asking that the “problem” be addressed and fixed. Army Regulations  define a “wrong” as: A discretionary act or omission by a commanding officer, under color of Federal military authority, that adversely affects the complainant personally and that is: (1) In violation of law or regulation;?(2) Beyond the legitimate authority of that commanding officer;?(3) Arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion; or?(4) Materially unfair. If the problem is not addressed and fixed by the commanding officer, a formal complaint (Article 138) can be made to a superior officer (higher in rank to the officer who is responsible for the problem). This will trigger an investigation into the problem by the court-martial convening authority over the commanding officer against which you brought the initial complaint. The investigator should, “examine the complaint and take proper measures for redressing the wrong complained of”  and should report their findings to the Secretary of the Army (or Navy, Air Force etc). Any retribution or reprisals for filing an Article 138 can be the basis for additional complaints.
https://girightshotline.org/en/military-knowledge-base/topic/grievances-article-138-complaints – See more at: https://girightshotline.org/en/military-knowledge-base/topic/grievances-article-138-complaints#sthash.PVfiG6o0.dpuf
CAMS – Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in our Schools –
Catholic Peace Fellowship –
Project YANO –