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General News    H2'ed 10/31/12

Occupy the Department of Veterans Affairs battles it out with, V.A. and Sandy, vets win

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Braving Frankenstorm
Braving Frankenstorm
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Braving Frankenstorm by Cory Clark

The Small group of veterans and their supporters who have been encamped in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs at, 810 Vermont Ave,   in Washington, DC, just several hundred yards from the White House, have been battling it out with the with the V.A. since the beginning of October.

Occupy the V.A. "We Just Want To Talk" by Cory Clark
The Department of Veterans Affairs has steadily been increasing its harassment of the group using nearly identical tactics as those used by Trinity Church Wall Street, in NYC.
Don't Presure wash me Bro by Cory Clark

"Prior to the occupation the V.A. only pressure washed on Fridays and Mondays, since the veterans have arrived, they have pressure washed nearly every day," said Martha Guthrum, a native of the DC area, who walks by the V.A. every day on her way to work.

The V.A. has also used the Metro Police and DHS to enforce its harassment.

A Lt. Col. With DHS woke me up this morning with a collapsible baton held at his side as if he were going to hit me with it, I was scared for my life," Said Danielle Finger.

Anarchist supporting Vets the best way they know how by Cory Clark
On Friday morning Bill Minutti, several supporters from Anarchist Alliance and the Occupy Movement, peacefully resisted authorities by getting in the way of V.A. maintenance workers trying to pressure wash.

"Last Night, I was looking at the Missing in Action flag, and we were taught never to leave a man behind, our Government has done that here," said Minutti. "There's no way you can understand unless you've been in war; we've left these guys behind, we've got to get them out of here."

Eighteen Veterans take their own life, on average, everyday according to the Department of Defense. These numbers don't include so called accidents such as those claimed to have occurred while cleaning weapons.

"I've been around guns most of my life, and so far as I know, there is no procedure in which someone can clean their weapon with a round in the chamber. You have to shove a long rod down the barrel. It just doesn't work that way," said Special Ed, a Vietnam veteran.

"This country sent these men and women to nasty little places, to do nasty little things, they want nothing to do with this government, these people out there on the street that will never go to the V.A. need a voice," said Minutti.  
Never leave a man behind, the V.A. will do that by Cory Clark

DHS threatened to arrest individuals who refuse to move off of the side walk or stood in the shrubbery during the early morning pressure washing.

"What the charges would have been depends on the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Elliot Grollman, DHS Area Commander of the National Capital Region. "My goal is for them to move; they're going to power wash the sidewalks every day."
Braving Frankenstorm by Cory Clark

However, intimidation from the V.A. was the least of the veterans' worries going into the new week as the so called FrankenStorm hit the eastern seaboard.

The Group began preparations immediately after a group meeting of veterans and supporters that included several veterans who were taking some needed R and R at a campsite in Maryland, via phone.

They acquired several military surplus, one man all weather sleeping units that included a sleeping bag and two outer shells, one of which was a Gortex, water proof, camouflage shell.

They also acquired Medical supplies, food, and other life essentials, during extreme conditions.
Riding the storm, through the night by Cory Clark

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Cory Clark is a freelance photojournalist and writer focused on civil and human rights issues, social justice and politics. He is a regular contributor with Getty Images, AP and AFP. His work has appeared in, The Guardian, Fortune (more...)

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