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Monday, June 17, 2002
      ( 11:56 PM ) Jackie  

Gi Rights

"GI Rights" -- That may seem a little oxymoronic but members of the military do have rights, even though they may have to fight to get them recognized.

Usually I feel pretty good after my shift on the GI Rights hotline. If I'm lucky, I can tell some young person that getting out of the Delayed Enlistment Program is as easy as writing a letter to the CO at the recruiting office. Sometimes I can walk a person through the process of obtaining emergency leave and applying for a hardship dishcharge. All too often I am providing a number for the national suicide hotline.

Today I walked out feeling pretty helpless. I don't think the stories I heard were any worse than usual: tales of lies, abuse, threats, substandard and delayed medical care, disappoiontment, and hardship. But today it got to me. Maybe because I have some family stuff going on and am more vulnerable than usual.

But I'll go back next week. I'm glad that the CCCO (Central Committe for Conscientious Objectors) and the War Resisters League and the Hotline are there. I'll have a chance to counteract some of the lies and myths about the service and give some up to date information to people considering going AWOL.

I'll walk out feeling that at the very least I've given some people the chance to talk freely and safely about their situation and that perhaps they will not feel as alone in their plight. And next week I'll leave the problems there and won't feel so sad and so very angry about what the military does to our youth.

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Words and photos from Jackie in Oakland, CA. More I cannot tell you ... I won't know what it is until I do it.

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