Vermont woman starts anti-war group for military families

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(Host) A Waitsfield woman whose son is serving in Iraq believes the way to support the troops is to bring them home. And she says she’s not alone. Nancy Brown is organizing a Vermont chapter of a Massachusetts-based anti-war group called “Military Families Speak Out.”

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) When people tell Nancy Brown her son is a hero, it doesn’t make her smile.

(Brown) “I have a hard time with that hero word, you know. I think it’s dangerous. I think it’s used to talk people into doing stuff they shouldn’t do or- yeah, I think it is dangerous.”

(Keese) Brown’s son Ryan Maloney is part of a Vermont National Guard artillery unit called to Iraq this winter. His mission is “convoy security” – driving a Humvee somewhere near Baghdad.

Brown believes her son should be at UVM, finishing his education. She says he’s a bright student. He joined the guard two years ago because he needed money for college. Brown wasn’t able to help much on what she makes teaching in Montpelier.

Brown didn’t want him to join the Guard. She has a brother who was in the Vietnam War and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

(Brown) “But, you know, you don’t really think, Oh, National Guard – you’re going to be going to a combat zone in Iraq.”

(Keese) Brown was protesting this war before her son was called for active duty. She believes the administration used weapons of destruction as a pretext for rushing to war and now no weapons have been found.

(Brown) “I think the U.N. should have been allowed to do the things it was supposed to do on its own timetable. You know, people say Saddam is a bad guy, a dictator. There’s a ton of people dying by brutal dictators all over the world. Why aren’t we there, if that’s the reason? Why are we really in Iraq?”

(Keese) Brown tried everything she could think of to keep her son out of Iraq. Her son, she says, is determined to fulfill his obligation, even though he didn’t want to go initially.

This spring Brown discovered a Web site for Military Families Speak Out, an anti-war group for people with loved ones in the service. When she learned there wasn’t a chapter in Vermont, she decided to start one. And she started speaking out.

Meanwhile, Brown’s had to ration her news intake.

(Brown) “You know, I’m just trying to make it through every day, trying to develop an attitude of faith that he’s going to come back fine, that he’s going to be one of those ones that come back.”

(Keese) Brown says she’s had at least 20 inquiries about the group so far.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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