We Are Not Your Soldiers started out 2023 with two visits to a NYC alternative high school special education class: the January visit featured presentations by Vietnam veterans Joe Urgo and Miguel Gabriel Velazquez while Miles Megaciph performed and spoke during the February visit. January related to Martin Luther King’s speech about the U.S. war on Vietnam and February to Black History Month.
In February, Joy Damiani addressed several classes at a NYC middle school which had been studying both how propaganda is transmitted through such media as comics and how to be an upstander.
In March, Joe Urgo returned to speak to and answer questions in an Oregon high school where a new class of students were reading The Things They Carried, written by a Vietnam veteran. Joy Damiani presented to a JROTC class in a Philadelphia high school where students wondered, when asked at the beginning of the presentation if any had ever been in a war situation themselves if we were referring to the situation in many neighborhoods in their city. We finished the month with another remote visit, this time by John Burns to a high school in Alaska which a Navy recruiter had visited a few weeks prior. The students were receptive to hearing another point of view. The presentation started with a clip from “Unmanned,” a feature film short. One of the comments we received on the evaluation form noted:
“I enjoyed the honesty and clear coatingon getting your own evidence. Showing care for our opinions and options yet still pointing out inconsistencies… I knew at boot camp and basic training you go through intense mental strengthening, but the point brought up that it is also a sense of desensitization makes sense and is horrifying at the same time. The video showed clear mental anguish shown through some of the accepted casualties. I knew about [some] but didn’t know how severe and under the rug mass amounts of it could be, along with other atrocities. It did change my view due to my want to join the Marines, but hearing about the possibility of being a pawn, or back of the fridge is frightening, along with the severe mental health problems vets and other service members can go through without proper help that they were promised.”
Each time one of the veterans speaks to a class, they receive a stipend to help cover childcare, time off work or school. All of that comes from you. Please donate when you can.