Quaker House Newsletter
Front-Line Peace Witness Since 1969
Fayetteville, NC www.quakerhouse.org Chuck Fager, Director
calls have jumped 1225 % . (The Hotline began in 1994.)
The Quaker House total is actually understated,
It’s that time of year again: the artillery at Ft. Bragg
because it counts only calls taken through the 800 number, by
has been booming a lot, rattling the windows. We don’t need
our main counselors, Lenore Yarger and Steve Woolford. To
any reminders, but they shout the fact that as I write, we seem
these should be added the emails, and calls to the house phone
poised on the cusp of war or non-war.
number. These too have been rising steadily.
Millions around the world have made visible and
And these involve more than just conversation. A few
audible demands for the U.S. government to back away from
days ago, I was in a dingy Fort Bragg barracks, sitting beside
the plans for war against Iraq. But at Fort Bragg and so many
the wife of a GI who was being grilled by a truculent captain
other bases, the buildup to invasion goes on, grim and
about his CO application. As the hearing opened, the captain
relentless, day in and day out, around the clock.
summarized the official ground rules: one is that it was not
When you read this, the war may have begun, and
supposed to be “an adversarial proceeding.” Then he
some of what follows could be overcome by events. We have
proceeded to rip into the GI, challenging his honesty, the
to run the risk, though, because so much is going on.
authenticity of his claim form (saying I wrote it for him–I
Here we’ve been working on several fronts: debating
didn’t), alleging he was lying about having come to his CO
war advocates, visiting Iraq, speaking and conducting peace
convictions while on combat missions in Afghanistan, and so
workshops, writing, marching and even facing arrest. More
It was a tough, grueling session, and the captain’s
But much of our work is outwardly undramatic: the
report and recommendations were just as negative as we
counseling phone line rings day in and day out, more calls
expected. The CO has ten days to submit a rebuttal, which
than ever, from GIs we may never meet, as well as some we
I’ve been helping him prepare. If his claim is turned down,
then he’ll need to decide what to do next, which could mean
Cumulatively that work becomes dramatic, at least
jail. We’ll walk with him through all of that.
for us: we’re close to swamped. We recently got the totals
One other bit of news: Even before the latest round
from last year for the GI Rights Hotline, the nationwide
of huge protests, the mass media had finally begun to notice
hookup which Quaker House helped start (at 1-800-394-
that there really is a peace movement in this
9544–pass it on!)
, and can put them in historical context.
country, and that it’s worth reporting on. The upshot is that
calls from reporters have been coming to the house everycouple of days for the past few weeks.
Mostly the reporters are hungry to talk to a real GI
A Growth Industry:
resister; but they haven’t had much luck so far. The GIs
Call Statistics for Quaker House and
we’re working with are keeping their heads down right now,
The GI Rights Hotline
fearing retaliation if they go public before getting out. Wedon’t push them on this; but my prediction is that before too
Total GI Hotline calls nationwide: 21,218
long, there will be GI resisters ready to face the press, and
(23 % increase
adding their voices to the chorus demanding an end to this
Quaker House (QH) share
of this total: 4,067
folly. When they do, we’ll help them all we can.
(30 % increase
In the midst of all this, the bills still need to be paid,
and your continuing support of our work is greatly
-- Total Hotline calls: 17,267 – QH total: 3128
appreciated, and much needed. And keep us in your prayers.
We hope you’ll consider sending a contribution soon.
Total GI Hotline calls: 4140 – QH total: 1872
Total GI Hotline calls: 3294 – QH total: 1231
Total GI Hotline Calls: 1734 – QH total: 727
PS. GI Hotline stats for January ‘03 just came in:
Total calls = 3582–That’s an all-time monthly high!
The trends here are worth underlining: Since 1996,
(661 calls came to Quaker House. This will also mean a
Quaker House calls have gone up 560 %, and total Hotline
record-high phone bill. )Thanks for your help!
Quaker House: Up to Our Necks in Work & Protest
about the impending invasion, which he expected to begreeted by cheering Iraqis, overjoyed to be liberated by U.S.
troops. Ousting Saddam Hussein, he argued, would reshapethe Middle East in a positive, democratic direction, and even
Our GI counselor Lenore Yarger went to Iraq in
open the way to an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
January; along with members of Peaceful Tomorrows, a
Chuck challenged this plan, contending that the
peace group whose members lost close family on 9-11.
human cost, especially to Iraqi civilians, would be enormous,
While there she visited many families, almost all of whom
as it was in the first Gulf war, and that this prospect robbed
had lost members to the ravages of war and sanctions.
the invasion plan of any moral justification. When the major
Lenore wrote a report on the trip, and has since been
rejected a student’s charge that the plan amounted to US
giving talks and showing slides. The Fayetteville Observer
imperialism, Chuck countered with an alternate concept,
published a version of this report at the top of their Op-Ed
“messianic hegemonism,” which he said would likely turn
page in early February. Here’s an excerpt:
out to be even more dangerous. (A detailed account of this
“I found it wrenching to say goodbye to the people
debate, and the major points on both sides, is available at the
we met in Iraq. The reality that they could be dead – in two
Quaker House website. Look for the link to “Pineland
weeks, a month, six months – because of a U.S. invasion
stood like an icy pillar between us that no words of comfortor reassurance could diminish. To more than one person, I
said upon departure, ‘I am holding you in my heart.’ But Icould read the doubt in their eyes:
The shocking series of family homicides at Ft. Bragg
last summer, described in our last newsletter, has largely
“What good indeed, unless more of us in the United
faded from the news. But its impact is still being felt; and
States can hold the people of Iraq in our hearts and, like the
there is considerable spin being applied to the aftermath.
families of Peaceful Tomorrows, turn our grief and
Two sharply differing reports about the homicides
compassion into action for peace?” (The full text of her
were issued in the late fall. One came from a field investi-
article is on our website: www.quakerhouse.org)
gation by an Army medical team. The other was a lengthy,probing piece in Vanity Fair
magazine’s December issue.
The Army report’s authors went out of their way to
insist to the press that an anti-malarial drug called Lariam,
Lenore’s husband, Steve Woolford, has also been
given routinely to soldiers overseas and recently linked to
busy beyond the Hotline work, with protest actions. On
numerous cases of violence, psychosis and suicide, was not a
December 30, he and three others were arrested for throwing
culprit in any of these cases, blaming “family stress” instead.
blood on a security entrance at the Pentagon. The action,
This is curious because the actual report, which few reporters
which produced about twenty other arrests, was part of a
apparently read, does not at all exculpate this drug, which at
retreat of the Atlantic life community, a Catholic Worker-
least two of the killers had been taking.
By contrast, Vanity Fair
’s Maureen Orth, an ace
That retreat was in large part a memorial to one of its
investigative reporter, dug up plenty of information pointing
founders, the activist former priest Phil Berrigan, who died
to Lariam’s side effects as a likely factor in at least one of the
on December 6. Berrigan had been jailed numerous times for
homicides–evidence the Army team did not even look for.
similar nonviolent protests, and his widow, Elizabeth
Why, one wonders, was the Army team so anxious to “clear”
McAllister, was arrested with Steve. The action coincided
Lariam, especially when this conclusion was not supported
with the Catholic Feast of the Holy Innocents, which recalls
the slaughter of children by King Herod, in hopes of killing
Drugs aside, however, both reports painstakingly
the infant Jesus. This ancient event, the protesters said, is
documented in their different ways the destructive impact of
echoed by the sanctions and impending war against Iraq.
much of the army environment on families and marriages.
Steve has been arrested at least ten times before, and
The military’s epidemic of family abuse may have
faces a trial date in early March. He assures us that if he gets
been cloaked for now by the shadows of war, but this issue
jail time, Lenore will cover the Hotline phone in his absence,
has not gone away–and we have not forgotten it.
The Ft. Bragg Public Affairs Office will email or
FAX copies of the Army report; call: 910-396-5620. The
piece is not on the web. But an interview withreporter Maureen Orth about it is at:
Director Chuck Fager has not courted arrest; but in
early February he did confront a Special Forces major in a
There’s also a transcript of an Oprah Winfrey show on the Ft.
debate over the plan to invade Iraq. The encounter came in a
panel discussion at Methodist College in Fayetteville.
The Special Forces officer was very enthusiastic
Letters to Quaker House
my country, or that I’m a criminal. I never took the time to say“thank you,” and I truly regret that. I’ve lived out many of my
[From a GI in Afghanistan, awaiting action on his CO
dreams since cutting my military career short. I never would’ve
application; we’ve worked with him for a year.]
been able to do it without your help. So, officially . . . THANKYOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF M Y HEART. I hope you canstay afloat, and please keep in touch with me, as I want to help as
Subj: I'm in the land of Canaan, I mean Afghanistan.
Date: 12/xx002 4:00:08 PM Eastern Standard Time
M ay your creator’s blessings be upon you, and merry
Greetings. I’ve been here for about a week now. Despite
the fact that I was told that I’d be cooking, it seems as though I wasmislead. Instead, I’ve been washing pots and pans for the last week.
Go figure. Because of the way the water is treated or the harshness
[NOTE: Noah worked with former Director Phil Esmonde.]
of the soap or some combination of the two, my hands already feelas though they are perpetually burning.
Other than that, this place is reminiscent of prison, com-
plete with all the equipment one needs for weightlifting. I won’t
I am writing in hopes that you can provide information,
deny that I have been partaking in this pastime and, if I continue at
which may help me and others in my situation. I joined the Army
the rate I’m going, should look like Arnold did in his prime.
in 1994 as a military police officer, a decision I consider to be the
It’s not all bad though. Being away from everybody and
largest mistake of my life. However, since I signed the contract I
most everything is allowing me to gauge what was meaningful in
felt obligated to fulfill my obligation. I served on active duty from
my life and what was merely superfluous. Silence is very hard to
4 M ay 1994 until 3 M ay 1999, as stated in my contract, and at the
find, for everyone seems as though they’re on a constant quest to be
end of which I received an honorable discharge. At the completion
of my active duty I had a reserve obligation term lasting until 15
I spoke to [my wife] on the telephone a few minutes ago.
M arch 2002, which has obviously passed and during which time I
She is racked with a cold, but is glad to be home. [Their 9-month
was never contacted about being re-activated.
old son] has his two front teeth and, as can be expected, is being
In September of this year after receiving many Army
letters and publications, about re-enlistment and other junk type
This camp could just as well be in Arizona. There are
mail, I decided to send a letter reminding the army that I was no
virtually no locals to be seen. W e are strongly discouraged from
longer in the military in any form or fashion and would appreciate
associating with the soldiers from the other country who has
it if they would stop wasting taxpayer money. I then received a
soldiers here, which is that pest of Europe, Romania. The
reply stating that I had been involuntarily extended due to
higher-ups must be horrified at the prospect that they would sell us
operation enduring freedom until 24 December 2031
due to being
vodka, speak a language other than english or spanish, or generally
a military police officer, and was instructed to get a 5
show us that there is another culture in the world that may be just
physical, which I don’t need as it hasn’t been 5
years since my last
a tad bit different than ours. . . .
From talking to soldiers who have been here for a few
I do not plan on taking a physical, signing any military
months, I was surprised to hear how many are questioning why we
paperwork, or having any involvement in any military activity. As
are here, and some even voicing criticism at America’s motives.
far as I am concerned I fulfilled my contract honorably, and have
Ayotollah Ashcroft’s henchmen are probably reading this as I write,
no further obligations. I am concerned however that in this rush to
so . . . . .watch out. Anyway, I’m sure 80 percent of it is simply
war with Iraq, I am going to get cornered into service or jail,
bitterness from being away from home, family and automobile
rather than genuine dissent. Perhaps I’m too cynical in my
I am seeking any information you can provide on this
matter. If I can get my matter resolved, I would also be interested
M y alloted half hour is about to end, so I will conclude.
in ways to get this information out especially to high school grads.
I hope all is well. Please give my regards to the meeting or forward
I think they should know that they are not joining for 3,4, or 5
this to them. Have a merry consumeress and a happy new year.
years, that those joining today are signing up for service “until
Really though, take care and have a nice holiday and safe travels.
Thank you, and keep up the good work.
Robert Bryan W iskeman
I’m not sure if you were the person who I spoke with
[NOTE: W e established that YES, the Army CAN extend
several times, over four years ago now when I “left” the military .
someone involuntarily, even for 30 years until 2031–the date is
. . . At that time however, I was scared and confused and the
NOT a mistake.]
Quaker House could not have treated me any better. Yourorganization helped me to realize that breaking the military’scontract did not mean that I’m not a patriot, or that I don’t LOVE
Quaker House Newsletter
Front-Line Peace Witness Since 1969
223 Hillside Avenue, Fayetteville NC 28301
Return Service Requested
W inter 2003 – INSIDE:
< Domestic Murders at
Ft. Bragg - Update
Caring for the Caretakers
“That was a remarkable deduction,” said the author.
A Meeting in the west was considering whether to
“My own Sherlock Holmes could not have done it better.
reestablish its Garden and Flowers Committee, which had
Had you really only that much evidence to go on?”
languished and withered some years before. When the
“Well,” Penington admitted, “for the sake of truth I
subject came up for discussion, a former meeting Clerk
must admit that the name printed on thy luggage also
spoke up: “Oh yes, I remember the Garden committee; I was
on it for awhile. That’s where they sent you for rehab aftertoo many years on Peace or Ministry and Counsel.”
Speaking to Their Condition
No Great Mystery
In the midst of a tangled and difficult discussion, a
Friends meeting felt pulled toward a controversial decision,
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once visited Philadelphia,
even though many obstacles could be foreseen. One member
traveling, as he thought, incognito. But when he arrived at
summed up their situation this way: “I think we just have to
his lodgings, a small well-kept boarding house, he was
go forward, and hope that way will open ahead of us at least
greeted by the owner, a man clad in brown named Penington.
Penington escorted the guest to his room and then said, “Ihope thee enjoys thy stay here, Friend Conan Doyle.”
His Brother’s Keeper
“Why, how did you know my name?” asked the
During the Civil War, a young Quaker farm lad,
“Well, Friend,” said Penington, “I have seen in the
leading a donkey, passed by an army camp. A couple of
papers that thee was coming from England to visit America,
recruits saw his broadbrim and decided to have some fun.
and thy general appearance told me thee was English. And
Leaning over the fence, one said, “Hey, what are you holding
the ink stain on thy fingers suggested thee is a writer, so I put
on to your brother so tight for, sonny?”
these together and guessed it was thee.”
“To keep him from running off to join the army,”
replied the youngster without missing a beat.
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