In December of 2016 I sat in the front seat of my ‘95 Oldsmobile Achieva in need of some direction. I found myself in a place where I didn’t have anywhere to go, didn’t really have anything to do. Recently radicalized by the election, I scrolled social media, showing particular interest in a direct action taken by a Veterans group at Standing Rock.
Like any good movement back then, it was organized by a bunch of old military guys connecting on social media and a GoFundMe page. Soon, these three guys had thousands of volunteers offering to travel to a reservation in the middle of winter to stand in solidarity with the Great Sioux Nation.
Supporters of the movement believed that every Veteran, no matter their discharge, swore an oath to defend the people of the United States from all forms of oppression, foreign or domestic.
“Hey, you know, I agree with that. I should go join those bastards!” I thought.
So I filled out their volunteer form offering what I could. It was late in the game and they never called. Reflecting on that, it was for the best. I didn’t have gear to stay in the field for one hour, let alone days at a time. I would have needed shit. So it was best they didn’t get back to me.
Until earlier this week I got a call on an old burner that I considered not answering. It was Brandon from the Veteran Service Corps doing a little networking via old volunteer lists.
I’ve longed been intrigued by the government response to the water protectors. It’s well documented that those peaceful protesters, which in theory is legal, were under intense counter surveillance in an effort co-opted by law enforcement and private defense contractors. These Veteran organizers had a recent,
Let me tell ya, there were a lot of ugly beards and curse words on that phone call and one civilian driving a minivan to Wisconsin, trying to keep us all in line.
The democratically elected leader of VSC is a former infantry Captain named Chris Duesing. He’s still up on the reservation where it all started, an invited guest of the American citizens he swore his life to protect.
Chris chain smokes and paces around the room during the call. He’s got that look in his eye like maybe he’s seen a little violence. Things happened at Guantanamo Bay he can’t even talk about. Legally. In other words, he’s the kind of guy I’m comfortable with. For the first time in a long time I act like myself and it comes off well. These guys are just like me.
I offer them a DD-214 and ID, but there was no need, Brandon already had OPSEC covered.
Chris goes on to speak off the cuff about the Bonus Army, the movement of 43,000 World War I Veterans and their supporters that was ultimately met with fixed bayonets courtesy of Hoover, MacArthur and Patton. Not a lot of guys I meet know about their history as well as the Captain. More impressive was his idea that ego gets in the way of direct action. He speaks confidently, with authority on that subject because he’s seen it.
When they first captured lighting in a bottle at Standing Rock, some came to support and join the movement, but did so with the approach of a colonizer (Really guys?). It might just be me, but most of the time I like people that show up at my house to be invited guests. Not people who show up and tell me it’s in my best interest to let them in.
The Veteran Service Corps has been a primary organizer behind the good will that extended to a 29 acre plot of land offered to Veteran supporters of the water protectors. The group remains eager to build on the momentum gained at Standing Rock and move resources into the hands of people who need them.
Like any direct action group they face a fundraising struggle. Now give the VSC credit, they’ve stopped short of selling t-shirts to boots with motard slogans on them. They still need funding, of course, if anything is going to happen with the potential that comes with the land. They’re talking about a jobs program, that’s environmentally sound and geared around community improvement. Actually serving your country for a good cause. There’s a lot to be had at the Promise Ranch and with future action organized by the Veterans Service Corps.
So if I may borrow the platform for a Call to Action and share some of the goals and objectives we discussed on that conference call.
In 2019 the VSC aims to create their own media umbrella. News, stories, podcasts, books, created and published by Veterans under our own name and authority. No more giving away our experiences to multinational corporations who do us no justice.
To accomplish this goal, we’re going to need massive input for the roster we’ve already recruited and hope to grow. If you have a story of your experience at Standing Rock, or your deployment, or post-military transition, share it with the VSC and don’t be silent. You, the Veteran, the person who acts instead of talks, deserves to be heard. Our collective lives and experiences is the capital.
Anything you think makes a good tale send it our way or bounce it off our team. We’ll put it together. Of course, it should be loosely related to our cause and mission statement, but if I may repeat the words of the Captain.
The Veteran Service Corps aims to unite Veterans across all political spectrums, regardless of color, creed or ethnic background. We may not have everything in common, but we definitely have one.
Serve your country again! Join the Veteran Service Corps!