June 03, 2024

Virtual news conference 10:30 EDT, June 4, 2024, with active-duty military


As more members of the military and State Department resign over U.S. funding of the genocide in Gaza, a new campaign will be launched tomorrow to allow military personnel to directly contact their congressional representatives. 


Initiated by active-duty military members, veterans and G.I. rights groups, “Appeal for Redress v2,” is modeled after the 2006 Appeal for Redress conducted during the highly unpopular occupation of Iraq, to allow G.I.s to tell their representatives they are opposed to U.S. policy.


Active duty service members are opposing U.S. funding of Israel’s genocide not only because it is immoral, but also because U.S. government employees violate several federal statutes every time weapons are shipped to Israel, as cited in this letter from Veterans For Peace to the U.S. State Department


James M. Branum, an attorney with the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, said, "Too often lawmakers make war policies without hearing from the people who have to implement them.  This is what makes the Appeal for Redress v2 so important." 


Senior Airman Juan Bettancourt, on active duty while seeking conscientious objector separation, said, “My proudest act of service has been championing Appeal for Redress v2, a campaign to empower fellow service members to securely voice their moral outrage about our government's complicity in Israeli war crimes and genocidal onslaught in Gaza. Although our rights are limited by our oath, Appeal for Redress v2 allows service members to carve out a modicum of agency and dispel any apprehensions that may impede us from denouncing this unspeakable carnage. Our voice is a powerful instrument, and it is our responsibility to humanity and the principles we hold dear to speak up against these heinous acts and make it known to our elected officials that we will not stand by silently while genocide unfolds. We refuse to be complicit. These are my views, not those of the Department of Defense.” 


Army Sergeant Johnson said, “Throughout my Army career it has been reiterated to me time and time again to live and uphold Army values. I have been taught that honor and integrity are pivotal to being a soldier. It hurts me to my core that the same country that instilled these values in me would proudly support a genocide. It is our duty as service members to uphold Geneva conventions and international law. That is why I am pleading for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for humanitarian aid to be distributed throughout the entire Gaza Strip. To Ignore these crimes against humanity would be to turn my back on all the values I’ve cultivated as a soldier. It is against my personal beliefs as a man and my obligation as an active duty soldier to be complicit in this genocide. Fellow service members, please join me in calling for an immediate ceasefire and for Israel and the US to adhere to international law. These are my views, not those of the Department of Defense.”


Senior Airman Larry Hebert, also seeking conscientious objector status, said, “It is imperative that we uphold our personal and professional values and beliefs. There is no greater crime against humanity than genocide. No person, country, or institution should be supported unconditionally. This Appeal is within our rights as service members and we have a duty to exercise this right when our leaders commit violations of international and humanitarian law. You need to genuinely consider your actions now and reflect on how you're contributing to the genocide. Are you helping or hurting the situation? There is no neutrality. By staying neutral, you hurt the oppressed. These are my views, not those of the Dept. of Defense.”


Bill Galvin, Counseling Coordinator at the Center on Conscience & War, said, “We’ve had an increase in calls from military personnel asking about getting discharged as conscientious objectors. Almost all of them cite the carnage in Gaza as something that their conscience would not allow them to ignore. Some have expressed feeling complicit in the violence.” 


Will Hopkins, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, said "The Israeli Defense Force has killed over 13,800 children in Gaza since October 7. An estimated two million civilians are starving. With such carnage and the International Criminal Court investigating for genocide, US service members are right to question the lawfulness and morality of our support of Israel’s campaign. Though I served in Iraq before the 2006 Appeal for Redress was available, I struggled with both the morality and legality of our occupation.  The United States claims to be a bastion of freedom so the right to speak out in times like these must be protected."


Kathleen Gilberd, executive director of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, said, “Many service members have serious objections to the U.S. support for Israel's carnage in Gaza. Though their rights are somewhat limited, military personnel can still speak out about their beliefs and  protest the travesty of this war. The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild stands in support of these military dissenters and resisters.”


Shiloh Emelein, USMC veteran and Operations Director of About Face: Veterans Against the War, said, "We know many young people join the military out of necessity to get their needs met. But they are not obligated to contribute to genocide and unjust, unlawful wars that go against their conscience.  You do have rights, you do have options to object, and there's a large community of post-9/11 veterans ready to welcome you.”


To increase the awareness of this campaign among members of the military, civilian supporters of the appeal are encouraged to share it on social media and to ask peace and justice organizations to share it with their membership.


The active-duty members listed in this release are available for comment by calling Bill Galvin, Center on Conscience and War, at  202-446-1461.



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