››› You can join Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War
Army Regulation 600-20 paragraph 5-2b authorizes soldiers, including national guard and reserve, to participate in local nonpartisan political activities. Both VFP and IVAW are local and do not participate in partisan political activities. As a non-profit, educational organization, neither VFP nor IVAW are allowed to campaign for or endorse political parties. But soldiers are not authorized to: (1) Wear a military uniform or use any government property. (2) Allow participation in VFP or IVAW to interfere with, or prejudice, military duties. (3) Imply that the Army has taken an official position on, or is otherwise involved in, the local political campaign or issue.
Want to know more about joining Veterans For Peace? Click here.
Want to know more about Iraq Veterans Against the War? Click here
Print out the GI Rights card: GI RIGHTS CARD
or call the GI Rights Hotline at: 877-447-4487 or 800-394-9544. Their web site is: www.girights.org. Stationed overseas? Overseas telephone numbers and contact information are available on their web site.
>>> You have the right to attend peaceful demonstrations on your time but not in uniform
This right is explained in Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 1325.6.
>>> You have the right to say & write (mostly) what you think
But there are some limits here. You can't call the President, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or other high government officials what article 88 of the UCMJ calls “contemptuous words” like “fascist,” “thief,” “murderer,” “tyrant,” “fool,” and “gangster.” You can, subject to these and other limitations, write, publish, and distribute things like newspapers, leaflets, and web pages. It all has to be while you're off duty and without using military paper, ink, computers, phones, or other supplies or equipment. See Army Regulation 600-20 Appendix B for further explanation.
>>> Print out the GI Rights card: GI Know Your Rights card or call the GI Rights Hotline at: 877-447-4487 or 800-394-9544. Their web site is: www.girights.org. Stationed overseas? Overseas telephone numbers and contact information are available
on their web site here.
>>> When your command ignores the rules
You don't have to be in the military long to find out that commands sometimes ignore the rules. There are several ways to challenge this sort of thing. Let your fellow troops know the deal. Keeping quiet and hoping your chain of command will listen to reason usually doesn't work. They have their ways to mess with soldiers-informal harassment from superiors, poor performance evaluations, bad recommendations, and bogus disciplinary charges. But you can find ways to mess with them too. We don't have to tell you how. But let your comrades know your situation. Show your friends that you don't deserve the bad treatment and that your protest activities were the real reason the command developed an attitude and took action against you. Form a network of support around you for whatever actions you take.
The other thing you can do is get support from organizations like Veterans for Peace, IVAW, Military Families Speak Out, or Gold Star Families Speak Out. Make use of the GI Rights card and the GI Rights Hotline shown above. They're there to help. It always helps to have organizations that can mobilize people or media to back you up.
Finally, you can complain through the IG, the chain of command, or get some legal assistance through a military counselor and/or an attorney who's familiar with military law. The National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force is a great resource, offering assistance with discharge upgrades, AWOL information, sexual harassment complaints and a variety of other services for military personnel on a free or low cost basis.
And last but not least, DOCUMENT! document! document! Be sure to document the Who, What, When, Where and Why. You are dealing with your life and your career in these matters! That's why it is so vitally important to your case that you make a record of and document your attempts to have your voice heard.
>>> Use it or lose it
Some advance preparation is the best way to use these rights; knowledge is power. And using your rights is important for you, for others caught in a bad war, and for all of us.
>>> For more on GI rights
Print out and carry the GI Rights card: GI RIGHTS CARD or call the GI Rights Hotline at: 877-447-4487 or 800-394-9544. Their web site is: www.girights.org. Stationed overseas? Overseas telephone numbers and contact information are also available on their web site.