War is bad for families

Two different emails landed in my in-box today about the horrible impact of war on families.

The Times brings us a heart-breaking article about U.S. military personnel who have recently killed family members. I can appreciate that there are a number of folks who are working to address domestic violence within the military, although I don’t quite get how a person can be part of a culture that teaches people to kill, and then focus their attention on making sure that soldiers and Marines only kill certain people. Here’s one part of the article that stuck with me, about a task force formed in spring of 2000 to reduce domestic violence in the military:

When the moment arrived to explain their findings and recommendations to Congress, however, the timing could not have been poorer. Deborah D. Tucker and Lt. Gen. Garry L. Parks of the Marines, the leaders of the task force, presented their final report to the House Armed Services Committee on the very day that the Iraq war began, March 20, 2003. Ms. Tucker called it “one of the more surreal experiences of my life.”

“Periodically, members of the committee would call for a break and there would be some updated information provided on the status of our troops’ entry into Iraq and how far they’d gotten,” she said. “There was a map on an easel to the side.”

“I knew that while we were at war all other considerations would push back,” she added, “and I hoped that Operation Iraqi Freedom would be a quick matter on the order of Desert Storm.”

But that “quick matter” involved the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. They may not have been U.S.ers, but their deaths are still just as compelling a crisis.

I think it’s a great idea to have a task force to figure out how to prevent military personnel from shooting and killing their spouses. And I think it’s completely related to the work of figuring out how to prevent military personnel from shooting and killing anyone.

Speaking of which, the other email I got was about an upcoming community event on how military violence is affecting other families:

The Human Costs of War on Children and Families

David Smith-Ferri, Activist and California Poet Laureate

Portland State University’s Center for Academic Excellence is hosting this event as part of the ongoing Civic Engagement Series. The Civic Engagement Series brings together faculty, students, staff and community partners who are interested in the role of community-based education to promote civic engagement. This series facilitates meaningful discussions related to PSU’s mission of connecting the university with the larger community.

Thursday, February 28

12 Noon – 1:30 pm

Multi-Cultural Center

228 Smith Memorial Union

Free and Open to the Public!

Through a multi-media presentation including poetry, stories, and film, David Smith- Ferri will bring into our presence the people he has met in Iraq, and the events that have shaped their lives over the past eight years. The people of Iraq are featured in Smith-Ferri’s newly released book, Battlefield without Borders. Zahra Al-Kabi, Iraqi Social Worker and Michael Taylor, Assistant Professor of Social Work and father of a veteran of the war in Iraq, will provide a panel response to Smith- Ferri’s presentation.

For more information about this event, go to the full description at PdxPeace.

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