Mother of Marine Rejects Preferential Treatment for Son: Continues to Challenge US Congress03 Feb 2007 by Benjamin W
Tina Richards and son Cloy are indefatigable Missouri peace activists in a time of escalating war. They accompanied hundreds of other active military families and veterans to the forefront of Saturday's 500k-person peace march in Washington DC. (DC-IMC, US IMC). Upon learning on 1/30 Cloy was called for a 3rd deployment to Iraq (the backdoor draft), Tina chose to stay in DC to take the fight directly to Congress. His deployment is now unlikely, because of Tina's action, but the Richards do not want preferential treatment. They continue to stand up for "the thousands of other soldiers and marines facing this draft, disrupting their families and futures."
I hope everyone knows about Project Occupation. It is supported by numerous peace organizations including Military Families Speak Out.
I guess I began the project last week. My son, Corporal Cloy Richards, a two-time Iraq war veteran (click here for his background), received a call from the Marine Mobilization Unit (MMU) on Monday while many of us were in D.C. lobbying congress to support the troops by defunding the war.
Cloy with his sister in St. Louis on Day President Bush arrives
Background on the Back Door Draft: September 2006
In September, Donald Rumsfeld authorized the call up of the Marine's Individual Ready Reserves, as well as National Guard and Army Ready Reserves (These are men and women who opted to inactive status and forgo additional aid or help from the military I exchange they would only be called up during a time of insurrection or foreign invasion) in order to fulfill their commitment in Operation Iraq Freedom. The restrictions placed on whom they would call up were very strict. Only 2,500 at a time could be called up. Only those that have been out more than a year, but less then three and only from five MOS's (their specialty they have been trained in). This left 4,479 on this list. Cloy falls within all parameters and has trained in 3 of 5 of the MOS's they need. He is on the short list.
Cloy started to receive emails from the MMU the next day to ensure they knew where he was and his status. This has been the usual contact from them. I started a petition then to bring awareness of what was happening to our military and this supposed, "All Voluntary Forces", in the hopes if enough pressure was shown, they would not change my son's status and send him back as well as thousands of others. I was joined by other MFSO members and we attempted to deliver a petition on November 9, 2006 to the Pentagon where we were turned back by police and refused the opportunity to deliver the petition. We have lived a phone call away from him going back to Iraq since then.
January 30 to present: The Phone Call
When my son called me in DC on Monday night and told me the MMU and asked him if he was ready for deployment, we immediately reacted with the fear of his imminent deployment for a third time. As I stood up in the Senate Judiciary Hearing (click here), Cloy told the MMU he was certified disabled by the VA and should remain in the IRR. He is hoping that his evaluation on February 9th with the VA will be completed before they find out he is still in the process of being evaluated (we have worked on this for nine months). There is no guarantee we will accomplish this. Unfortunately, our sons and daughters with PTSD are still being sent to Iraq. During this process, we have many resources to draw upon including hiring an attorney if Cloy chooses that help. If he chooses not to accept this help, there is nothing anyone can do short of bringing them all home.
Since that time, my senators Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond received numerous requests to stop Cloy from being sent back to Iraq. Their offices have contacted me and assured me they would work on Cloy's behalf. I feel very fortunate they are willing to work for him; however, when I asked if they will vote no on the emergency supplemental so that thousands of others like Cloy won't be sent and tens of thousands of others can come home, they told me no.
Objective: Stay in DC
Cloy has told me he does not wish to accept their help. If they were working to bring all his brothers and sisters home, he would accept it. Anything else would be dishonorable as does not want to be their political pawn. I told him his voice will be heard in congress. I returned home to spend the weekend and my birthday with my son. He told me he was sorry that Iraq keeps interfering with my birthday with either deployments or recalls. This is the first time since he was 17 that we could be together. He is thankful my passion to end this war has given us so many resources, "for us to fight this terror threatening to tear us apart again."
I feel obligated to stay in DC and speak with the Sub Committee of Defense Senators and Representatives and request they let the families that have been so hurt by this war testify at their hearings in order to help give voice to the thousands of mothers and loved ones of the people who they are sending to Iraq. Their voices have been quiet at these hearings.
One way or another I want our voices heard.
Only two representative have met with me. Ike Skelton and Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri. I read Cloy's poem and Jo Ann told me she has not decided how she is going to vote. It is a 50/50% chance I will either hate her or love her. She said no one else has contacted her or even brought up the subject of Iraq and as she represents her constituents, she must hear from them in order to decide. I am encouraged that it was only a remote chance before my meeting.
When Ike Skelton insisted President Bush have an exit strategy prior to the war, Bush wrote him and told him he didn't need his vote, he had enough votes without his. He would not tell me how he will vote, but as one of the few with sons over there now, I know it has to tear him apart.
Project Occupation's goal is to ensure every representative and senator has heard from us and that it rips their heart out before they vote to either ensure two more years of escalation or to bring them home.
Action to Take: Letters
Since that day, I have been walking the halls of congress personally requesting meetings with the decision makers and leaving a request for an appointment and Cloy's poems (Click here to see Cloy read them). When constituents have joined me at these meetings, I have received a chance to speak to their Legislative Advisors. Many others have told me as I am not a constituent, I cannot obtain a meeting. Even though their vote will directly effect my son, they don't owe responsibility to meet with me.
I am asking everyone to write a letter of introduction to your congressman/woman and Senator and requesting they meet with me (form letter suggested below, but be creative). I will hand deliver them to your representative. So when they tell me it is not their concern, I can say there are people from their district that want their voices heard.
Cloy's story is not unusual. Unfortunately this story has been told many times before. Many have gone through much worse then what we have. However, sometimes a personal story can change a person's mind. And when we change the minds of the decision makers, we can change the course of our country. We have seen over the last four years some of the staunches supporters of the war change their mind 180 degrees citing a single story that changed it. Remember the Freedom Fries representative?
"Support the Troops, Defund the War"
When I first heard the expression, "Defund the War" I was very skeptical. I heard there were many wonderful bills being introduced to achieve our objective of bring home our troops. But after studying the realities (I was a poly/sci major in College), I realized not one will receive a veto proof majority no matter how wonderful they are. The only true way to bring them home is to cut off the funds for the war. As the mother of someone who still might be over there when the funding will end, this is not a decision I made lightly. There is enough money in the pipeline to bring them all home safely and if more is needed they can allocate a small amount to finish. This will force the Bush administration to deal with this diplomatically. Our troops have done everything asked of them. They have accomplished every mission they were sent to achieve. We need them home so they can heal.
Our last best hope is to Defund the War. Anything else will ensure at least two more years of war and escalations.
I will be in Washington D.C. in support of the nation-wide Project Occupation. My target is the Senate and Congressional Sub Committee of Defense. I have put my life on hold for the last four years and my funds are low. I have received many requests to stay on for the entire eight weeks and have received enough funds to last four weeks. Please send letters, call their DC offices and send donations so I can continue my objective of letting other families and myself that are so hurt by this war testify before they vote to fund this war another two years. I feel this is the only way to ensure my son and others aren't deployed. I know I am asking for a miracle, but I have seen them happen before.
MFSO Midwest Events Coordinator
CEO Grassroots Missouri, A non-profit corporation
InsteadofWar.org is collecting checks and cash donations
GrassrootsMissouri.org accepts Paypal donations
If anyone has airline miles so can come home on weekends or have my children join me in DC during the next eight weeks, I would really appreciate it. I've never been away from my kids more then a couple of weeks except Cloy's time in the Marines.
If you receive an actual appointment time, please email be at TMRSalem@hotmail.com, as I will be able to receive these immediately.
If you wish to join me or are going to be in the DC area, please contact me. I will help to provide lodgings.
A special thank you to all who have sent in funds, Instead of War, St. Louis and the Mt. Rainier, Maryland Neighborhood United for Peace and Justice for all your help. This is not possible without you.
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Dear Sen. (Rep.) your rep.'s/sen.'s name Feb. 2, 2007
I am a constituent from your state / district. I would appreciate it very much if you could briefly meet with Tina Richards. Her son, Cloy Richards, is a Marine who served in combat in Iraq. Cloy served honorably, and now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. He is seeking help from the V.A. Cloy was recently notified that he may be re-activated to go back to Iraq. He is a phone call away.
I know you care deeply about our country and those who serve it to the best of their ability, just as you do. Cloy Richards has done that. I know Tina Richards would be extremely grateful for an opportunity to meet with you as soon as possible.
Thank you for any and all consideration given this request.
Sincerely, your name
Freedom of speech - Use it or lose it
When they took away the 4th Amendment,
we were quiet,
because we didn't deal drugs.
When they took away the 6th Amendment,
we were quiet,
because we were innocent.
When they took away the 2nd Amendment,
we were quiet,
because we don't own guns.
Now they have taken away the 1st Amendment,
and very soon,
If we continue to be quiet,
we will have no choice,
BUT to continue to be quiet.