[Vision2020] Marine’s injury draws vets to Occupy movement

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Nov 2 13:49:28 PDT 2011

Courtesy of the Army Times.

Marine’s injury draws vets to Occupy movement

Spurred by an injury to one of their own, military veterans are mobilizing to increase their presence and profile in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Wednesday on Wall Street, the New York City chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and dozens of other uniformed veterans known as “Veterans of the 99%” are expected to mass near Wall Street, where Occupy began Sept. 17.

Although they’ve been participating in Occupy protests throughout the country, vets said their ranks have been swelling since last week, when former Marine and Iraq War vet Scott Olsen sustained a skull fracture when he was hit by a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest. Although still hospitalized, Olsen, 24, is expected to make a full recovery.

“His injury has definitely galvanized veterans,” said University of Illinois senior Scott Kimball, 27, who served in Iraq as an Army specialist. He’ll be helping coordinate Wednesday’s New York City event, which begins at 11 a.m. march at Vietnam Veterans Plaza

“We’re getting calls from veterans across the country who are extremely angry and appalled that someone who served two tours in Iraq got injured as a well-behaved protester,” Kimball said. “It’s rallying vets across the country. We’re just seeing the beginning of it.”

Interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has said that the events leading up to Olsen’s injury would be investigated.

Occupy Wall Street launched as a protest against corporate America’s influence on government and the growing income disparity between the nation’s rich and poor. Although many protesters have appeared disorganized, Occupy’s central themes have attracted a widening band of followers, as Occupy protests spread to scores of U.S. cities and abroad.

The movement has been gathering support from labor unions and liberal groups such as MoveOn.org, although support from veterans has been less vocal. Occupy Marines, a Facebook support group that did not respond to calls, has been urging vets and active-duty personnel to show up at demonstrations but not in Marine uniform.

“I’m in it for the long term,” said former Marine Shawn Riley, 25, who served in Iraq and is a participant in Occupy Chicago. “This is an idea we’re going to pass to future generations.”

Joe Carter, a retired Army sergeant and national head of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said he expects increasing involvement from retired and active-duty personnel.

“We’re hearing from 80-year-old former Marines,” said Carter, who served two tours in Iraq. “Scott Olsen was willing to put himself on the line, so a lot more people are willing to take a more visible role.”

Carter said he hopes vets can parlay higher visibility in Occupy protests into heightened awareness of issues that are crucial to vets: high jobless rates, declining benefits and lingering postwar trauma. According to a recent Department of Labor report, unemployment among 18-to-24-year-old vets is over 20 percent, compared with a national unemployment rate of about 9 percent.

Oakland, city officials are bracing for a possible shutdown of the Port of Oakland on Wednesday by organizers for Occupy Oakland, which is planning to disrupt the nation’s fifth-busiest shipping container port in a broad call to action that will include a march against local businesses.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"Honest and true,
As the morning star.
Vote for just two,
Ament and Lamar."

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