May 25th, 2006
Dori Smith, of Talk Nation Radio, is sending around a letter she wrote asking people to support early release for imprisoned conscientious objector Kevin Benderman. I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing it here:
May 25, 2006
Dear friends in concern for peace and justice,
As you may know Kevin Benderman remains in Military prison at Fort Lewis serving a 15 month sentence for refusing to return to Iraq. He sought conscientious objector status from the US Military because after his initial deployment to Iraq in March of 2003, Benderman came to recognize the deceptions used to bring U.S. forces into Iraq and he developed a deep commitment to peace that would not permit him to return to the war zone.
He told listeners of WHUS Radio at the University of Connecticut about his concerns about what was happening to the civilians, and of his horror at having been ordered to shoot children on one occasion. He and others in his company refused.
Kevin Benderman was court martialed in 2005 and Amnesty International continues to call him a prisoner of conscience.
While other soldiers in similiar situations have received parole Kevin is serving his time under adversarial conditions that now include isolation from his family. He is under a disciplinary order and cannot contact anyone by phone. That includes his wife Monica and their children. The Military commanders argue that he was not quick enough to stand up when an official entered the room but those of us who know more about Kevin’s story understand the picture better–The commanders are not happy about the fact that he remains so strong and outspoken and they want to muzzle him. His prison stay has not been an easy one.
You can read the request Kevin made for clemency and to be released to his loving wife and family on their web page. He points out that they need him and that they desperately need his income from the work he will be doing upon his release. –Kevin plans to work for Evans Media USA, raising funds to help veterans and active duty military personnel who are experiencing PTSD and related medical and emotional problems and need legal or personal counseling.
Kevin Benderman has served 11 months of his term thus far as Monica continues to try to gain his release. She recently told her story on C-Span. As I watched her I remembered her gentle strength during radio interviews as she called her husband a hero for standing up for peace. Monica has been a source of inspiration for many of us who have been reading her statements and comments over long months of war. She continues to keep us informed at the NeverGiveUp blog:
http://www.newcafe.org/ to register, NeverGiveUp; The War, for discussions with first Kevin and Monica and now Monica on her own.
After filling us in all the infuriating story of what is happening to Kevin in Military
prison Monica said: “Please just keep Kevin’s name out there… and let people know – he is doing everything he can to help people learn what they need to know – so that we can begin to make the changes we need to make. Thanks!!!!”
You can write to Monica Benderman
Despite her work on behalf of Veterans it has been difficult for Monica to pay her bills every month on one salary and she is struggling. Please do what you can to support to her by writing a letter on Kevin’s behalf which might be entered into the Congressional Record by Representative, Cynthia McKinney. You can also write Kevin and Monica privately or you might also contact the representatives below to follow up on Monica’s efforts to get them to work for Kevin’s early release.
If you can please consider making a donation to help cover Kevin’s legal defense costs and provide financial assistance to his family while he is in confinement.
Contact these representatives to follow up on Monica’s recent appeals or use their web site linked above to contact other members of the House and Senate. You might also think about writing letters to the editor. Please feel free to write to me for further information.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
Dori Smith, Talk Nation Radio, WHUS Storrs http://www.whus.org
Bridges Sinyard – Sen. Saxby Chambliss — Bridges_Sinyard@Chambliss.Senate.gov
Sara Hudson – Sen. Saxby Chambliss(GA) — Sara_Hudson@Chambliss.Senate.gov
416 Russell Building Washington, DC 20510
Sean Moore – Sen. Barbara Boxer(CA) — email@example.com
112 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
Justin Walling — Rep. Lincoln Davis(TN)–
410 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Alexandra Nunez — John Kerry(MA) — firstname.lastname@example.org
304 Russell Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510