Veterans Fellowship Of Reconciliation – Update Spring 2013
1.) The Prisoner Express, which is our collaboration for getting books to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans in prison, is highlighting our mission this month. The incarcerated OIF and OEF population continues to grow as does the suicide rate. Over 40,000 of these young people in prison , many suffering from PTSD. It is this writer’s opinion that becoming aware of the reliving of the violence and immorality of war plus the grief of lost friends enhances this syndrome. “Whatever You Did In The War Will Always Be With You” - Marc Levy in Counterpunch. If you know of a combat veteran that is in prison, we will have them join F.O.R. and receive books that will suggest the “Peace Is The Way”…. that which is most traumatic in your life, can be the most empowering…. me , Dean at Westside HS, NYC, 1984.
2.) We are focusing on the outrage of the SSgt Donna Johnson story and are soliciting veterans to contact their congresspeople to eliminate the DOMA. The SSgt. Johnson story is a wake-up call to all veterans that sit quietly by and don’t stand up for their brothers and sisters that suffer the inequities of DOMA. Here is the SSgt. Donna Johnson story:When the first of October rolled in a couple of weeks ago it reminded many of us that summer was really over. Forget Labor Day and the first official day of fall September 21; October is changing leaves, pumpkins, and Halloween.
Unfortunately that routine awareness was lost to three members of the North Carolina National Guard who were killed by a suicide bomber October 1, as they made their way through an open air market.The deaths passed largely unnoticed by Americans outside the military, but what caught global attention is Sgt. Donna R. Johnson’s wife and the fact that the Army refuses to acknowledge her very much at all.Gannett-owned Army Times took the brunt of the protest, but the Times only followed the AP’s lead, when it mentioned the other two male soldiers killed were survived by wives, while failing to mention Johnson’s wife Tracy Dice.
Readers who knew Sgt. Johnson expressed their outrage in the comments section of the Times story and asked why the woman, who was legally married just like the two men, couldn’t have her surviving spouse mentioned as well.Journalism pundit Jim Romenesko wondered the same thing, after being alerted to the lapse by one of his readers, and shot off an email to AP asking what was up. Then, on October 6 the AP wrote an entirely new story and The Army Times posted it to their site Sunday October 7.
Those details did little, however, to appease commenters on the Times original post who shed much light on what’s left in the wake of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s (DADT) repeal.It turns out that even though a servicemember can legally marry in a state of their choice and be recognized by law, the service denies same-sex spouses a long list of lucrative and fundamental privileges.The Defense of Marriage Act enforces discrimination right where Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell left off — causing a whole different type of damage.
What that Defense of Marriage Act also means to Tracy Dice is:
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">She could never use the commissary to do the grocery shopping where food is marked just 5 percent above wholesale.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">Tracy was never covered under Johnson’s Tricare medical insurance.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">She and Sgt. Johnson never received the Basic Allowance for Housing stipend essential to many male-female couples in securing housing.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">She couldn’t go to base-sponsored picnics and events.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">She couldn’t get any assistance relocating with her wife to a new duty station, including overseas.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">Once at a new base Tracy would not have qualified for employment or education assistance.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">She did not qualify for free legal service.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">If she were ever a victim of spousal abuse and the ‘survivor’ effects of PTSD, she could not go to family advocacy or spousal abuse centers.
- http://static3.businessinsider.com/assets/images/dot-black.png?1369364684); ">She will not receive any of Johnson’s survivor benefits.
Our Mission: To sustain a peer-based, holistic program that supports veterans, with a focus on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as they transition from combat to civilian life. Our program provides the tools for transformation and a new path toward addressing veterans’ issues.
The Veterans’ Sanctuary Community Garden is a space where Veterans and their supporters come together to grow food and medicine. As an all-volunteer nonprofit, we share what we grow among ourselves. Our long-term goal is to be self-sufficient in food production for everyone involved- fermenting, canning, and putting up for winter. How can we continue to rely on fossil fuels and gas for our food, when it’s for these same resources the veterans went off to war initially? This is one reason we love to eat the food we grow and enjoy the teas and medicine from the herbs we care for. Our farm is about creating a supportive community and recreating “The Commons”. Everyone welcome!
On the three acres of land you will find two greenhouses, a water catchment system attached to a horse shelter and the start of a straw bale cabin shed that we built, a number of garden beds, a pond with ducks, and a handmade bee-hive. Last year we raised chickens and this winter we will be caring for goats.
We are inspired by permaculture and have a special interest in perennials, vegetables, herbs, shrubs and trees. We have hazelnuts, Carpathian walnuts and goji berries. We added pears, blueberry, elderberry, and asparagus this year. We also grow a wide variety of annual vegetables (if you see it at the farmer’s market, we’re probably growing it). We are proud of our diverse culinary and medicinal garden, in which you would find tulsi, chocolate mint, and st. john’s wort to name a few.
We are fundraising to replace our greenhouse plastic and dig a well, we save and accept donations of seeds, and we would love to make friends with more mycologists. No one goes home empty handed.