Iraq Veterans Against the War hold Convention in Baltimore

Iraq Veterans Against the War hold Convention in Baltimore

Members of IVAW and CivSol. (Photo by IVAW)
Members of IVAW and CivSol. (Photo by IVAW)

On the weekend of November 2, 2012, US veterans and allies from all over the country gathered at the 2640 space in Baltimore for the 2012 convention of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Co-organizers include the Civilian-Soldier Alliance. The theme of this year's convention was "Healing the Wounds", focusing on "the many ways members, their loved ones, and broader support networks are working to rebuild their lives and promote the healing process".[1]

Coming right at the end of superstorm Sandy, the convention was surprisingly well-attended. However, a planned solidarity rally at Fort Meade in support of accused military whistleblower Bradley Manning was canceled due to the weather. Nevertheless, the three-day long convention featured workshops, panels, massage and wellness sessions, discussions, and filmed testimonials, among other activities.

The main focus of the convention was the two organizations' joint campaign, Operation Recovery. According to the IVAW website,

Service members who experience PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to exit the traumatic situation and receive immediate support, and compensation. Too often, service members are forced to redeploy back into dangerous combat, or train in situations that re-traumatize them.  We say, individuals suffering from trauma have the right to remove themselves from the source of the trauma. Service members who are not physically or mentally healthy shall not be forced to deploy or continue service.

The last day of the convention featured a panel entitled, "Learning From People's Movements". Speakers included the United Workers, Media Action Grassroots Network, Center For Constitutional Rights, National Nurses United, Desis Rising Up and Moving, and the Poverty Initiative. Audio from the panel can be heard below:

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The Inter American Human Rights Commission was also on hand to give a joint workshop with the Center for Constitutional Rights about an appeal for redress. The workshop discussed the avenues for international efforts to end the re-deployment of traumatized troops, such as through a hearing at the International Criminal Court:

Listen

To support IVAW/CivSol's Operation Recovery campaign, you can make a Pledge of Support.

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[1] http://www.ivaw.org/convention-2012