The Military & Draft Counseling Project

We are one of two groups (see OCWTR) that constitute the War Resisters League, Portland Chapter, and a non-profit organization registered with the State of Oregon.  We serve as a community resource on issues related to military service, military conscription and conscientious objection.  We also promote alternatives to militarism and military recruitment and, to that end, we engage in public education / outreach and the lobbying of public officials. The Military & Draft Counseling Project works in cooperation with a network of local and national organizations.  We participate in national listserves and have ready access to up-to-date information and referral sources (see links).  We are an all-volunteer organization, and we charge no fees for our services but gladly accept donations.

The Oregon Community for War Tax Resistance

OCWTR provides a community of support for persons conscientiously refusing to pay for war.  The choice to resist payment of personal income taxes spent on militarism and war requires a serious commitment and may entail personal risk.  One person standing alone against the federal government can engender feelings of moral justification – and also isolation, powerlessness and fear.  By joining together, we can make a powerful statement against militarism and war as well as providing a supportive community and a safe haven. By redirecting our taxes from military priorities to socially responsible endeavors, we find personal empowerment.  Our purpose is to share this sense of empowerment with an ever-expanding community.

News

STOP BOMBING IRAQ & SYRIA - Visibility Action

END THE AFGHAN WAR
*STOP BOMBING IRAQ & SYRIA*
The Invasion of Afghanistan 13 Years Later
Visibility Action
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
3:30-6:00 PM
NE Couch & Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
(East End of Burnside Bridge)
TriMet bus lines 6, 12, 19 or 20 or Central Loop streetcar

Tuesday, October 7 will mark 13 years since the devastating US invasion of Afghanistan. A visibility action at the east end of the Burnside Bridge from 3:30 to 6 PM that day will remind people that the US still has a large presence in Afghanistan despite its promise to withdraw all "combat troops" buy the end of 2014. Of the 10,000 who will remain, roughly 10% will be members of the Oregon National Guard. The Peace and Justice Works "Tower of Peace" will remind motorists, cyclists and pedestrians heading in three directions about the ongoing effects of US policies in Afghanistan and the "Middle East."

On August 8th, the US began bombing in Iraq again, in an effort to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State. On September 22, US missiles began raining down on Syria as part of that effort. While the President has promised "no boots on the ground," war is war, by land, sea or air.

Event coordinated by Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, cosponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Occupy Portland Elder Caucus, Recruiter Watch PDX, Little Light of Mine Friends Worship Group, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland, Freedom Socialist Party-Portland, and others.

For more info contact Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group at
(503) 236-3065 or iraq@pjw.info.

US Foreign Policy: The Wars Continue

A forum called "US Foreign Policy: The Wars Continue" will take place on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:00 PM at the Friends Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark in Portland to examine America's role in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the re-ignited Cold War with Russia.

After the US "withdrew" from Iraq in late 2011, the President urged Congress to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, yet in early August, he ordered bombs and missiles to be dropped on that country. President Obama also promised to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but now it appears at least 10,000 troops will remain there indefinitely. The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting Israel's recent incursion into Gaza, which killed hundreds of civilians. Tensions in Ukraine signal a renewed military standoff with Russia. And the US continues dropping bombs from drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, while Libya and Syria's situations remain unstable as well due to US intervention. Meanwhile, America spends more on the military than any other nation as its infrastructure crumbles and the gap between rich and poor widens.

Organizers expect to have one or more action items related to US policies for people attending to undertake.

The coordinators of the forum include Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Occupy Portland Elder Caucus, and American Friends Service Committee. Endorsed by Recruiter Watch PDX, Little Light of Mine Friends Worship Group, Portland Fellowship of Reconciliation, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and others. Other groups are welcome to support the effort. For more information or to get involved contact Peace and Justice Works at 503-235-3065 or iraq@pjw.info.

Fall Opt-Out Campaign - Volunteers still needed

Buried deep within the No Child Left Behind Act is a provision that requires public high schools to hand over private student information to military recruiters.
The purpose of this invasion of family privacy is to allow minor students to be recruited at home by telephone calls, mail and personal visits. If a school does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds.

The only way to keep your children's contact information from military recruiters is to submit an "opt-out" letter in writing to your school district's superintendent.

Section 9528 -- this little-known provision of the No Child Left Behind Act -- was originally inserted into the bill by Rep. David Vitter of Louisiana, with almost no debate in Congress. Vitter included this provision after learning from the Pentagon that many public schools maintained strict privacy policies protecting student information from being released to any outside parties, thus preventing aggressive military recruiting.

In addition, the Pentagon also recently set up a database of 30 million 16-25-year-olds, including name, address, email addresses, cell phone numbers, ethnicity, social security numbers and areas of study. This Pentagon database is updated daily and distributed monthly to the Armed Services for recruitment purposes.

Each year we place volunteers at school registration events to distribute opt-out forms and inform students and their parents about their rights to opt-out of having their personal information released to military recruiters.  We are still in need of volunteers for all of these events.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact us.  Below are all of the available times and places for volunteer shifts.

Wednesday, August 20
Benson High School

546 N.E. 12th
Junior Registration:  9:45 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
(Volunteer should be in place at 9:30 a.m.  We can probably get done by 11:00 a.m.)

Tuesday, August 19
Franklin High School

5405 S.E. Woodward
Senior Registration:  1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
(Volunteers should be in place by 12:30 p.m.  We should be done by 2:00 p.m.)

Wednesday, August 20
Franklin High School

5405 S.E. Woodward
Junior Registration:  1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
(Volunteers should be in place by 12:30 p.m.  We should be done by 2:00 p.m.)
Current volunteers:  Cherie H., Joanne L.

Friday, August 22
Grant High School

2245 N.E. 36th Avenue
Juniors and Seniors pickup schedules:  8:00 a.m. - noon
(Volunteers should be in place by 8:00 a.m.  We should be done by 11:30 a.m.)

 

Summer 2014 Update

Fundraising

In response to the appeal letter that was mailed in January, our friends & supporters contributed a total of $1075.00 to support our student outreach and other organizing efforts. We are most appreciative of the generous support which comes each year to sustain this important work.

In addition, The Military & Draft Counseling Project received a grant of $800.00 from the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign Escrow Fund in April to support the Equal Access project in Portland Schools.

Student Outreach and Education

We completed 30 equal access visits to Portland High Schools during the 2013-14 school year, visiting each high school 3 times when military recruiter were also present. The military had difficulty, at times, following the school district guidelines for equal access; and we are currently in negotiations with school officials and military representatives to strengthen the rules for school visits.

We also gave 13 classroom presentations arranged with sympathetic teachers when military recruiters were not present. These are typically panel presentations involving Iraq War (and older) veterans and other local activists. We also distributed nearly 8,000 counter-recruiting fliers directly to students from the public sidewalks in front of local high schools during the fall and spring.

In August/September, we will be participating in the annual Opt-Out Campaign, distributing fliers to educate students and parents about their legal right to refuse to allow students’ personal contact information to be released to military recruiters, as otherwise prescribed by federal law. This effort is coordinated by Recruiter Watch PDX.

Protesting Militarism at the Rose Festival

On Sat. June 7th, about a dozen activists from WRL Portland, Veterans for Peace, Chapter 72, Peace and Justice Works, and others held signs and banners at the downtown seawall. This was our annual protest of militarism at the Rose Festival in the form of the military fleet of warships and military recruiting booths scattered among the other booths and carnival rides. As usual, we generated a mixed response and had some interesting conversations with passers-by.

Does War Have a Future?

National officials certainly assume that war has a future. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditures totaled nearly $1.75 trillion in 2013. Although this is a slight decrease over the preceding year, many countries increased their military spending significantly, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, 23 countries doubled their military spending between 2004 and 2013. None, of course, came anywhere near to matching the military spending of the United States, which, at $640 billion, accounted for 37 percent of 2013’s global military expenditures. Furthermore, all the current nuclear weapons nations are currently “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.  

Nevertheless, there are some reasons why war might actually be on the way out.

Destructiveness and Cost

Over the past century, conventional wars (including two world wars) have slaughtered over a hundred million people, crippling, blinding, or starving many more, and laid waste to large portions of the globe. When the U.S. spends [at least] 55% of its annual budget on the military, it is almost inevitable that its education, health care, housing, parks & recreation, and infrastructure will suffer.

Peace Movements

Peace organizations began to emerge in the early 19th century…. These organizations became a very noticeable and, at times, powerful force in the 20th century and beyond. Drawing upon prominent figures like Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell…peace groups created a major social movement that government officials could not entirely ignore.

Nonviolent Resistance

It was not only utilized in dramatic campaigns led by Gandhi and MLK, Jr., but in mass movements that, subsequently, have challenged and toppled governments. Indeed, nonviolent resistance has become a new and powerful tool for people to draw upon in conflicts without slaughtering one another.

Alternatives to Mass Violence

Why not expand international exchange and peace studies programs? Why not dispatch teams of social workers, mediators and negotiators to conflict zones to work out settlements? Why not provide food, employment, education and hospitals to poverty-stricken people? Why not help build a more equitable, prosperous world?

Summer Update

Report on Counter-Recruiting Activity:

       As I reported to the Portland School Board in May, we are, overall, pleased with the implementation of the new Equal Access policy during this current school year.  Our volunteers staffed information tables 24 times this year—2 or 3 times at each of the PPS high schools.  Military recruiters from the different Armed Forces branches were present during each of those visits and, to my knowledge, not recruiting students at other times.
     To start things off, school district administrators sent a memo to high school principals last August recommending that each school schedule three visits per year, inviting both military recruiters and counter-recruiters to participate.  Not all visits went smoothly, as high school staff sometimes struggled to make the arrangements fair and equitable for all; but we have seen improvements in communication and the structure of the visits as the year has progressed.
     Military recruiters were obviously disturbed by the new arrangements for equal access and began pushing against the rules and reasonable decorum during school visits.  They did so by sending twice as many uniformed recruiters as was needed to staff their tables, they passed out expensive gifts and prizes to students that were well above the $5.00 limit imposed by the school district, and they tried to engage students who had not signed up to speak with them and had no interest in military enlistment.  The Marine recruiters even brought their chinning bar to a couple of school visits, and we responded by filing a complaint with district administrators.
     Equal access is still a “work in progress” and may never be truly equal.  Nonetheless, it allows us to monitor military recruiter activity and provide students with the balance of information and perspective that they deserve.  As students figure out who we are and what we have to offer, our effectiveness is bound to increase.
     Besides equal access visits, our volunteers also distributed basic counter-recruitment information to students from public sidewalks in front of the high schools, we gave a dozen panel presentations (with local veterans) in high school classrooms, and we purchased ads in high school newspapers throughout the Portland metro area.  With additional volunteers and increased funding, we could expand our counter-recruitment organizing to other schools and communities beyond Portland Public Schools.  Help us get there.                                             

Shooting Ranges in High Schools:

     There are now approximately 3,400 secondary schools in the U.S. with units of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a military training and recruiting program open to students as young as age 14.  Founded in 1916, it is operated jointly by the host schools and individual military branches.  Instructors are retired military officers employed by the local school district.  Over half a million students are enrolled in the program and attend daily classes that teach them military customs and demeanor.  They are assigned ranks, are required to wear uniforms at least once a week, learn to march, and study history, civics and other subjects from Pentagon-supplied textbooks.
     Marksmanship training is an optional component of JROTC and is used as a magnet to boost student enrollment in the program.  The Civilian Marksmanship Program, which promotes youth involvement with guns and collaborates with JROTC, has stated that at least two-thirds of all JROTC units include marksmanship training.  If true, this means that marksmanship training exists in over 2,200 U.S. high schools.
     The issue became a major focus of debate in the San Diego Unified School District in 2007, when teachers and students discovered plans to install new JROTC shooting ranges at two high schools.  This plan would bring the total number of shooting ranges in San Diego schools to 11 out of its 13 schools.  These facts provoked an intense campaign of protest that is unusual for such a location as San Diego, which hosts one of the largest military complexes in the world.
     The coalition’s campaign lasted 14 months.  Despite the military’s dominant influence in the city and the NRA’s involvement, the campaign succeeded in all of its goals, including a 3 to 2 vote by the school board to ban marksmanship training throughout the school district.
[Excerpts from an article by Rick Jahnkow - Project YANO, San Diego, CA]
 
Note: There are 5 JROTC programs in Oregon, the closest being at Reynolds H.S. (in Troutdale), Oregon City H.S. and North Salem H.S.  We do not yet know if these programs include shooting ranges.

In response to our January fundraising letter, the Military & Draft Counseling Project raised a total of $965.00 for Equal Access and other counter-recruitment organizing.  Thank you!

 

6/8/2013 - Rose Festival anti-militarism protest

The 6/8/2013 protest of militarism at the Rose Festival was a success!  Thank you to everyone who showed up.  It was a beautiful day to be out and we got a lot of positive responses from Rose Festival attendees who supported our message.  Here are a few pictures from the event.

 

Photos by Gregory Sotir

Counter-Recruitment at the Rose Festival

Militarism at the Rose Festival?
There are military recruiting booths at CityFair and a few military ships docked at the seawall. (The U.S. Navy is busy elsewhere this year.)
 
Join us at the Salmon Street Springs Fountain - in Waterfront Park at Salmon St. and across from the Marines recruiting booth
Saturday, June 8th - 1:30 to 3:30pm
 

Repeal the "War on Terror"

The leading excuse for current U.S. wars, drone strikes, kill lists, renditions, imprisonments without trial, spying without warrants, the militarization of police, and gargantuan weapons budgets is the legal and rhetorical idea that the United States is involved in a war unbounded by time or space.

While it took 6 years to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that was used to justify war in Southeast Asia, after more than 11 years the Authorization for Use of Military Force -- the congressional resolution that launched the "war on terror" -- has not been repealed.

Click here to tell Congress enough is enough!

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who cast the only vote against the AUMF in 2001, has introduced a bill to repeal it.

H.R.198 would repeal the AUMF for two reasons: because Congress is Constitutionally bound to decide matters of war and cannot legally hand off that responsibility to its executive, and because Congresswoman Lee's somber predictions, when she stood alone against this madness and was subsequently obliged to hire security protection, have been proved right: the Authorization has been used and abused to an ever greater extent as an aggrandizement of executive power and a justification for the erosion of our civil liberties.

Please ask your Representative to co-sponsor and your Senators to do the same by clicking here.  You can also view a short video of Rep. Lee's prescient and powerful remarks in 2001.

Background:
H.R.198: Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force

Dear Friends and Supporters

Dear Friends and Supporters,
 
Military recruiters are having no trouble these days signing up new recruits to meet their enlistment quotas. Because of the lousy economy and the shortage of decent jobs, some recruiting stations actually maintain waiting lists. It is especially important, in these times, to counter militarism and warmongering with a message of peace and viable alternatives to military enlistment.
 
The Military & Draft Counseling Project has been busy this year implementing Portland Public School’s new equal access policy. Recruiters from all branches of the Armed Forces are now limited to no more than three school visits per year and are, for the most part, meeting with students by appointment only. And counter-recruiting activists are being granted equal time to respond to the military’s sales pitch and to discuss the realities of war and combat. Of equal importance, we are presenting students with timely information about non-military careers and education / training opportunities, including “green jobs” and volunteer programs.
 
Equal Access is working for the benefit of students, and many school counselors seem to be genuinely relieved that pushy military recruiters now spend far less time on PPS school campuses. Our job is to take full advantage of the new policy by making sure that we have prepared volunteers available for equal access visits, along with printed materials that are accurate, convincing, and appealing to high school students.
 
If you wish to contribute to our success: (1) consider volunteering for equal access visits to local high schools, or (2) make a financial contribution to support this important work. This is the only funding appeal that you will receive from us in 2013, so please make it count.
 
Make your checks payable to the Military & Draft Counseling Project and send to 2000 NE 42nd Ave., Suite 224, Portland, Oregon 97213. $100____ $75____ $50_____ $25____ Other____.
We will do our best to put your contribution to good use—advocating for local students and spreading the message that militarism and war only lead us to a dead end.
 
In peace,
 
John Grueschow, Coordinator
 
 
“Get involved. The world is run by those of us who show up.”

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