"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Help send Ashley Joppa-Hagemann to MIC-50

Dear Friends and Fellow Peacemakers,

I am requesting your help to send Ashley Jopp-Hagemann, Staff Sgt. Jarod Hagemann's widow, to speak at the MIC at 50 conference in just over two weeks. This has all happened very quickly, so please read further to learn more.

The Short (but important) Story: Ashley Joppa-Hagemann's husband Jarod committed suicide after his seventh deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, and before he was due to be deployed once again. Jarod was yet another victim of the lies and deceit that has sent countless men and women to fight immoral and unnecessary wars, only to have them return home physically and emotionally wounded.

Just over a week ago, on August 23rd, Ashley spoke at the State of the Soldier forum in Tacoma, and gave her testimony of her husband's struggle after multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan that led to him taking his life.

Just three days later Ashley confronted Donald Rumsfeld at his book signing event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord about his lies that led her husband to enlist in the Army. All he said was "Yeah, I heard about that." Ashley and Jorge Gonzalez (who had accompanied her) of Coffee Strong, a local GI coffee house, were forcibly removed from the book signing. Amy Goodman interviewed Ashley on Democracy Now yesterday about that experience and her husband's struggle.

The organizing committee for MIC at 50, a national conference on the Military Industrial Complex after 50 years, just invited Ashley to speak at the conference on September 17th. This is an important opportunity to hear the human side of war that the people who plan wars do not include in their calculations. She has accepted the invitation.

The Urgent Request: The conference organizers can only provide for lodging and hospitality at the conference, but cannot pay for Ashley's transportation from the Seattle area to Virginia. It took courage for Ashley to do what she has done, and she is willing to continue to tell this important story.

I have offered to put the call out for financial help and put together enough pledges before the end of this week to pay for Ashley's transportation. If I can get even close to the goal of approximately $700 (estimated cost) by the end of this week I can notify the conference organizers that it is a GO! My family is making a contribution to get things rolling.

At such short notice I do not have an organizational resource available to accept contributions, so I am asking anyone willing to help financially to:

  1. pledge whatever you are able (we welcome any level of contribution; no amount is too small),
  2. email me (at subversivepeacemaking@gmail.com) and let me know how much you will contribute so I can predict our success.
  3. make checks payable to Leonard Eiger; write "Ashley JH for MIC at 50" on the memo line,
  4. and mail your check to Leonard Eiger, PO Box 1115, North Bend, WA 98045.
I will carefully account for every dollar contributed, and will send any amount over what we spend for Ashley's transportation to Coffee Strong to further its work supporting soldiers.

Coffee Strong is a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse. Veterans provide a safe place for soldiers to share the effects of disastrous wars, within 300 meters of the gates at Ft Lewis. The unique coffeehouse welcomes soldiers with a free cup of coffee. There is access to the Internet, an informative library, and many referrals are available to community resources, including GI Rights counseling and Veterans Benefits. Free legal and educational resources are available.

Please contact me with any questions. I will respond quickly. And please - if you are able to contribute - follow the instructions 1 - 4 above. I will provide funding updates at the top of this Blog as we move toward our funding goal.

Many Thanks and Peace,


The Inhumanity of Those Who Make Wars


It should come as no surprise that those in power who send men and women off to fight their wars think of them (and treat them) as no more than commodities.  That they are human beings with feelings, families, and have faces means nothing in a very real sense.  They cannot truly look them in the face, because then they would have to confront their own lack of humanity and question the morality of their actions.

Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, whose husband Jarod Hagemann recently committed suicide before what would have been his 8th or 9th deployment, confronted Donald Rumsfeld the other day about her husband's suicide and Rumsfeld showed that he is one of those cold, calculating scoundrels who are more than willing to treat those who serve our nation in the armed forces as mere commodities to be manipulated into serving their twisted purposes through carefully deception.

There is ample evidence that this is exactly what Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration did in the days following 9/11 and in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.  And now Rumdsfeld shows his true colors when a war widow hands him the memorial bulletin for her husband and confronts him about how her husband joined the Army because of the lies he told, and all he can say is, "Oh yeah, I heard about that."   As Ashley say's in the following interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Rumsfeld didn't say "him" or "Jared".  No, he could only say "that," as if Jared was only a thing to him.  He probably couldn't even (or didn't bother to) look at Jared's face on the bulletin.  The heartless core of the warmaker.

Watch the Democracy Now video interview with Ashley or read the transcript following it .  Besides the obvious issue of how we treat our men and women in the armed forces as they attempt to grapple with the psychological effects of war, there is a far deeper issue of how we allow people like Donald Rumsfeld to get away with sending them off to wars of deception in the first place.  It is time for the people to speak out: "No More Wars!!!"



Army Ranger Widow Confronts Rumsfeld over His Lies that Convinced Her Husband to Join the Military (from Democracy Now, August 30, 2011)

We speak with the widow of a U.S. Army Ranger who confronted former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about her husband’s suicide on Saturday. Ashley Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself to Rumsfeld during a book signing by handing him a copy of her husband’s funeral program at a base south of Tacoma, Washington. She says Rumsfeld inspired her husband to join the Army after 9/11, but he later became disillusioned with the reasons for the war. Her husband, 25-year-old Staff Sergeant Jared Hagemann, killed himself ahead of what his wife says was his eighth deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. His body was found on June 28, 2011, at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. More than 18,000 soldiers returned to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord from combat tours last year. And while the Army says it is trying to shore up mental health services there, Joppa-Hagemann questions its success. "I want to confront the man whose lies led my husband to join the military, and so many other soldiers," says Joppa-Hagemann. "That’s what I wanted to do, and that’s what I did." [includes rush transcript]


Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, the widow of 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann, who committed suicide on June 28, 2011, ahead of his eighth redeployment to Iraq & Afghanistan. She confronted former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday about his role in inspiring her husband to enlist after 9/11.

Jorge Gonzalez, executive director of Coffee Strong, a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse just outside of Ft. Lewis, Washington. He’s a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Related Links:
•Coffee Strong: Veteran-owned and veteran-operated GI coffee houses
•Democracy Now!’s news archive of our reports on the Iraq War

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the widow of a U.S. Army Ranger who on Saturday confronted former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about her husband’s suicide. Ashley Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself to Rumsfeld during a book signing by handing him a copy of her husband’s funeral program at a base south of Tacoma, Washington. She says Rumsfeld inspired her husband to join the Army after 9/11, but he later became disillusioned with the reason for the war.

Her husband was 25-year-old Staff Sergeant Jared Hagemann. He killed himself ahead of what his wife says was his ninth deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. His body was found June 28th at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.

More than 18,000 soldiers returned to Fort Lewis from combat tours last year. And while the Army says it’s trying to shore up mental health services there, Ashley Joppa-Hagemann questions its success. She joins us now from Seattle, Washington, to talk about her husband, Jared.

We also called an official from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to join us on the show, but they were unable to accommodate our request.

Ashley, our condolences on the death of your husband, first off. Thank you very much for being with us.

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what you did with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Explain the scene this weekend.

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: I just had information that Donald would be here on Fort Lewis doing a book signing. And it was someone’s idea to actually go and see him at the book signing, and I was excited, and I agreed. I was like, "Yeah, let’s go. Let’s do this. I want to confront the man whose lies led my husband to join the military, and so many other soldiers." And that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s what I did. And for me, that was a really exciting moment, for me. For my husband, I know it was, too.

AMY GOODMAN: You handed him the funeral program of Jared, of your husband, Staff Sergeant Hagemann?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Yes, I did. I told him that I wanted him to see my husband, and so he would know—he could put a face with at least one of the soldiers that had lost their lives because of his lies from the 9/11.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was his response?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: All I remember is him saying, "Oh, I heard about that." And after that, all I remember is being bombarded with security personnel and being pushed out and told not to return. It would have been maybe not so difficult, if maybe he had actually made my husband feel—or made it sound like my husband was an actual person. But to call him and say "that" rather, not "I heard about him" or "heard about, you know, Jared," that was a blow. That one really hurt. But it just proves that our soldiers don’t mean anything to anybody who’s in power.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you actually taken away from the former secretary of defense, from Rumsfeld?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Yes. They grabbed us by our arms and pushed us along. And on the way out, I had stopped, because Jorge had gone with me, and I had stopped to try and see where he was at, because I didn’t know where he was, because we had so much security around us, and they just kept, like, pushing me along. And he just said, "Keep moving." And we were peaceful, we were calm. And so, I just kept doing what he said.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about Jared. How many tours of duty did he serve in Iraq and Afghanistan? He was an Army Ranger, like Pat Tillman.

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Yes. He was just an amazing person. He was so charming and so—he loved life. He loved—he had so much respect and love for everybody, and he put everyone before him. And he was just—he was an amazing person.

AMY GOODMAN: How many—

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: I mean, when I first met him—I’m sorry?

AMY GOODMAN: How many tours of duty did he serve?
ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Like I said before, possibly—you know, around eight or nine. I’m thinking it’s more around the eight mark, but it’s, yeah, eight or nine, this would have been.

AMY GOODMAN: And he was in Patrick—he was in Pat Tillman’s battalion?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Second of the 75th Ranger Regiment, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Did he know him?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: No, I don’t believe so.

AMY GOODMAN: What was it about Donald Rumsfeld that inspired Jared to go into the military?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: Pretty much the whole Bush administration and their lies about, you know, WMDs. And my husband was the kind of person who stood up for what he believed in, and he loved this country. And he thought he was doing what needed to be done. And over the years, he found out the truth. And it—every tour just ruined him. It took a part of him every time.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about whether Jared sought help? Talk about his suffering through the continued tours.

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: After the first few tours, he didn’t—he changed. He was cold. He didn’t want to talk. It was really rough. And I’d have to say, in '09, when he finally came back from maybe his fourth deployment—I'm not sure—he actually tried to tell—he told the Rangers that he quit. He didn’t want nothing to do with them. And he admitted himself to Five North, and they gave him counseling for his drinking. And after a while, they told him that he had to do it on his own time. It was interfering with his work. They put him in the S-5 shop in order to accommodate his counseling. And a few times, they had given him some antidepressants, some sleeping pills, which only made it worse, because it was like a 30-day supply. Then, as soon as it ran out, he had to go through the process all over again to get anything. So, it was just more of a hassle than anything.

AMY GOODMAN: Ashley, your husband was not alone. At Fort Lewis, July saw a peak of suicides—five in one month. There were nine in 2009, nine in 2010, five in just July alone. Yet the military is not calling your husband’s suicide a suicide, though they are saying it’s a self-inflicted wound?

ASHLEY JOPPA-HAGEMANN: There are suicides at JBLM every month. Whether or not they report them as suicides, I don’t—I can’t comment on that. I don’t know. So I wouldn’t say it spiked. I would say that it’s probably pretty—pretty high every month. It’s not anything new. And yes, it was self-inflicted. Whether or not that they had any—not thing, but any take or part in my husband taking his life, that’s what the investigation is investigating.

AMY GOODMAN: Ashley, we have to leave it there, but we’re going to do an interview and put it online at democracynow.org. Thanks so much for joining us.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rumsfeld: War Criminal - Known or Unknown???

Blogger's News Flash!  Since writing the following post I've learned that Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, about whom the post was written, really did confront Donald Rumsfeld at his book signing event, and was forcibly removed by "security agents and military police officers."   Read Ranger's widow ejected from Rumsfeld book signing in The News Tribune.  Also see Veteran and Military Spouse Dragged from Rumsfeld Book Signing at the Coffee Strong Blog for another perspective from someone who was there.  The executive director of Coffee Strong accompanied Ashley to the signing and was "ejected" with her.  Coffee Strong is a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse - veteran owned, Pro-GI and AntiWar.  Learn more at CoffeeStrong.org.

Photo courtesy of The News Tribune


Where's the International Criminal Court when you need it???  War criminal and one-time U.S. Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to tout his new book "Known and Unknown," and meet with local soldiers and airmen, many of whom he sent off to wars that he and others (you know who) illegally manufactured. 

What is known to many is that Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney and others should be held accountable for their conspiracy to engage in immoral and illegal actions while sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

What is unknown is how so many, especially so many of the men and women who have come back from Rumsfeld's endless wars damaged physically and psychologically, would even want to meet the man except perhaps to give him a piece of their minds. Said Rumsfeld about his upcoming visit, “One of the real enjoyable aspects of writing a book and then going to various places is that people come up who I’d met in Iraq or Afghanistan or around the world, and it gives me a chance to thank them again for their service for the country." (source: Seattle Times)

Perhaps Rummy would like to meet Ashley Joppa-Hagemann and thank her for her dead husband's service to his country.   Her husband Jared, an Army Ranger, committed suicide in June after countless deployments to Afghanistan (the next would have been possibly his 9th!!!).  Ashley told her husband's story at the State of the Soldier forum in Tacoma on August 23, 2011, and you can watch the video here (Thanks to Todd Boyle for documenting this testimony).

We must end these endless wars, take care of all who have been affected, and prosecute those who brought about (and profited from) all this suffering. 

And by the way, the Seattle Times article said that "although Seattle is a favored stop of authors on book tours, Rumsfeld will not appear at any locations in the city."  Hmmm... Maybe he thinks Seattle is a War Criminal-Free Zone.



Blogger's Note:  Read more about Jared here: Army Ranger killed himself to avoid another tour, wife says at OregonLive.com.  Rumsfeld to tout his book at Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the Seattle Times.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Solidarity with the people of Jeju Island - an URGENT PLEA!

Dear Friends of Jeju Island – Island of WorldPeace,

Last week, we heard reports that 700 police from the South Korean mainland arrived at Jeju Harbor with buses and trucks bearing three large water cannons. The villagers have been vigilantly waiting for the police to strike.

They did the morning of August 24th. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright wrote to us from Gangjeong village, “The sirens are blaring for citizens to come to the main gate of the Naval Base where construction is about to begin in an area that will destroy pristine lava fields and endanger marine life. The siren sounds like a tsunami siren in Hawaii signaling an emergency. And that is what it is.”

At 2 pm that day, Gangjeong Village Mayor Kang Dong-kyun approached military contractors who started the operation of a 250-ton crane that had been smuggled into the village in the middle of the night years ago. In asking that the illegal crane be dismantled and removed, the Mayor was forcefully taken into a police vanalong with a villager, Mr. Kim Jong-Hwan, and other civil society activists.For 10 hard and long hours, 100 villagers and peace activists used their bodie sand cars to prevent the police from taking away the Mayor and others. While two activists have been released, the Mayor, Mr. Kim, Dongwan and Father Moon are still detained.  

The villagers at Gangjeong know that orders have been sent from the top. Their resistance must be dealt with once and for all.

Why now? Because we’re starting to win the battle of public opinion. In one week, The New York Times published an Op Ed and the International Herald Tribune published another, both supporting the peaceful four-year resistance ofthe villagers with facts showing that this naval base would destroy unique environments, provoke China by surrounding it with a US anti-ballistic system, but would be incapable of protecting South Korea from North Korea.

One was by Gloria Steinem, a women’s movement organizer and peace activist. The other was by Christine Ahn of the Korea Policy Institute. Their factual pleas have set off more voices, including an Op Ed in the conservative-leaning KoreaTimes entitled, “Save Jeju Island – Island of Peace,” and an Open Letter from South Korean opposition leader Chung Dong-young, who not only opposed the naval base but once it is defeated, pledged to make its site into a peace park.

And with more voices has come greater coverage, from a feature article in The New York Times to CNN and Al-Jazeera’s coverage of recent protests.

As the world learns more and more about the danger to its treasure of global environment and culture, Jeju Island, and also more about the heroic efforts by ordinary farmers, fishermen, the legendary women sea divers and children to preserve their home and way of life, all are inspired and emboldened to believe that the side of peace, the environment and democracy does have a chance of prevailing.

But with more visibility comes fear and greater repression for those who are accustomed to dictating from above. That’s what we are now witnessing as hundreds of police join forces with the 1,000 already on Jeju.

In order to stay one step ahead, we need the support of friends far away, justas the military has friends in the Pentagon.

All of us—the nearly 5,000 people from 50 countries who have signed the petition to President Lee urging him to stop the naval base – are building global awareness of the danger to our global natural and cultural heritage on Jeju Island.

This takes regularly communicating with the world on what is happening in Gangjeong village, sowing seeds of peace in the media and among allies in the peace, environmental, human rights and women’s rights communities, and regularly updating the www.savejejuisland.orgwebsite with bilingual and multi-lingual bulletins.

We have an urgent appeal to all of you to join us in our effort to Save Jeju Island.

Please go to this website to get more informationon how you can act now:
Just as no human being is an island, Jeju belongs to us all.

With hope,

Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island Advisory Board
Christine Ahn, Korea Policy Institute
Imok Cha, M.D.
Wooksik Cheong, Korea Peace Network
MacGregor Eddy, Women’s International League forPeace and Freedom (WILPF)
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Matt Hoey, Save Jeju Island Campaign Coordinator 
Gilchun Ko, Jeju artist
Iara Lee, filmmaker and founder of Cultures ofResistance
Regina Pyon, Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK)
Gloria Steinem, author and co-founder of Women’s Media Center
Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel

Blogger's Note: Click here to see the Jeju Island Press Packet.  To learn more and get involved, check out the SAVE JEJU ISLAND Website!