Recent Veterans against Iraq War

The otherwise dark and silent CC Theatre was kept bright and loud Thursday night with images of soldiers, weapons and dead bodies; and sounds of bullets, bombs and shouting.

The sights and sounds came from the film “The Ground Truth”- a documentary of the War in Iraq directed and produced by Patricia Foulkrod.

The documentary was put on by Students Against War and presented by Drew Cameron-a UVM student, Iraq War veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).

Foulkrod’s work was based around commentary from people who had served in Iraq in each phase of personnel’s time while in the military – recruitment, training, combat and the return home. The film focused on how the military views killing before and during war and the effects of the casualties after.

Essentially, basic training orients recruits to be “killing machines,” which transforms in combat to what one United States Marine Corp Corporal described as “peer pressure group killing.”

A sergeant in U.S. Marine Corps said that soldiers sometimes make fun of members of their infantry if they didn’t get a kill that day – like it was something to be ashamed of.

The sections of the film on recruitment, training and combat were a preface to portraying how they psychologically injured the soldiers, and what effect that had on them upon their return home.

In addition, Foulkrod exposes the indifference the government has towards treating psychological damage from the war and providing veterans with promised benefits.

Veterans spoke about how they now have an activist role; speaking actively against the war and in the interest of veterans.

Cameron, who toured Iraq in 2003, spoke about the war and led a discussion after the film.

“When I was over there, it was nowhere near as bad as it is now,” Cameron said.

Questions arose from audience members on what it will take to get people to become active in bringing troops home. Many comparisons of the War in Iraq were made to the War in Vietnam for argument’s sake.

When speaking about activism against the war, particularly that of veterans, Cameron said, “It’s not an easy thing to say, what [the veterans in the movie] said, that ‘We went over there and sacrificed ourselves and it was all a lie.'”

The forum turned to a lengthy and in-depth discussion about what democracy means and how it is defined both in the U.S. and in foreign countries, such as Iraq.

Although overall the topic of the event was taken seriously, there was one thing that drew a laugh from the audience:

“They were going to call the Iraqi War ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation,’ but they decided against it,” Cameron said smiling as he wrote the letters “O-I-L” on the chalkboard.