Thursday, April 22, 2010

GI Resister Marc Hall Is a Free Man!

VFP and IVAW helped to anchor successful campaign


GI resister Marc Hall is now a free man. Under pressure from his supporters, the U.S. Army has backed down from their plans to give him a kangaroo court martial in Iraq. Instead they have granted him a discharge. Marc Hall is known as the GI “rapper” who recorded a song against the Army’s “Stop-Loss” policy last July. But his real troubles began in December when he filed a formal complaint with the Army’s Inspector General about the poor quality of the Army’s evaluation and treatment of his PTSD. Five days later, the Army arrested the Iraq veteran and charged him with 11 counts of violating the good order of the Army (Article 134), including “threatening violence against fellow soldiers.”



The GI resister support group Courage To Resist found him a lawyer near his base, Fort Stewart, Georgia, and the Army sent him 8,000 miles away to a prison in Kuwait. Marc’s mother worked with Courage To Resist and members of VFP and IVAW to form the Family and Friends of Marc Hall, which rallied political support and raised funds to send a lawyer and doctor to the Middle East.


The presiding military officer at Marc Hall’s arraignment (Article 32 hearing), threw out 5 of the 11 charges against Hall, finding them totally without basis or evidence to support them. She recommended that Spc. Hall be given a Special Court Martial, which can give a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a Bad Conduct Discharge. But the Army command, clearly wanting to make an example of Marc Hall, insisted it would give him a General Court Martial. Marc Hall was facing a sentence of up to 6 years in prison and a Dishonorable Discharge. Finally, though, the Army appears to have come to its senses.


Veterans For Peace played a significant role in supporting Marc Hall. When VFP called for emails to be sent to the Army on behalf of Spc. Hall, 643 members of VFP did so. One hundred and ten VFP members forwarded the action alert to friends, and 113 contacted newspapers on behalf of Hall. Iraq Veterans Against the War also mobilized its members in support of Marc Hall.


VFP members Russell Brown, of Buffalo, New York, and Gerry Condon, of Seattle, Washington, participated in weekly strategy sessions of the Family and Friends of Marc Hall, along with Jeff Paterson, a VFP member who heads up Courage To Resist. Courage To Resist raised and spent $7,100 for Marc Hall’s defense fund, and has another $1,500 of outstanding expenses at this time.


Marc Hall’s lawyer, David Gespass, who is president of the National Lawyers Guild, will now work to get Hall’s Other Than Honorable discharge upgraded, and to insure that Hall, who saw 14 months of combat in Iraq, will get treatment for his PTSD from the Veterans Administration.


Veterans For Peace has supported GI resisters for several years, and will soon be launching a GI Resistance Working Group, in order to provide timely information to VFP members about how they can support GI resisters in their time of need.


Read Dahr Jamail’s excellent article on the Marc Hall case at http://www.couragetoresist.org/, and find out about another GI resister, Eric Jasinsky, whom the Army has jailed with untreated PTSD.

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