From March 13 to 16 2008, a steady stream of U.S. military veterans took the stage to describe their experiences from the front lines as part of "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan" organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).
Their eyewitness accounts of free-fire zones in dense civilian areas, house raids that terrorized residents, indiscriminate shootings, severe beatings and torture of detainees, and the medical neglect they faced upon returning home riveted the audience of several hundred people who attended the event in Silver Springs and many more who followed the hearings through the independent media.
If you have any doubts about the wars of occupation in Iraq or Afghanistan watch these testimonies and you'll be firmly against both these wars. For more testimony videos go to http://ivaw.org/wintersoldier/testimony/video
Goldsmith saw the World Trade Center towers collapse on September 11, 2001. He enlisted in the Army and went to Iraq in 2005. In Sadr City, he witnessed abuse of Iraqi civilians and the killing of noncombatants. He was assigned to take pictures of Iraqis found in a shallow grave, ostensibly for intelligence purposes, but they were only used as trophies by those who received them. After repeated commendations, he was expecting to return to civilian life and college when President Bush announced the “surge,” and the military adopted its stop-loss policy, essentially making Goldsmith a prisoner of war. He tried to kill himself rather than return to Iraq, but survived. He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but then was discharged for misconduct as a malingerer. He now delivers pizzas and struggles to overcome his persisting symptoms with treatment through the VA.
Iraq veteran Camilo Mejia (chair of the IVAW board of directors) describes the long history of resistance in the military and salutes those who continue to speak out about their experience. “We live today in times of universal deceit,” he says, “but throughout the past four days, we have witnessed firsthand accounts that challenge that universal deceit… We have become a dangerous group of people, not because of our military training, but because we have dared to challenge the official story.”
When U.S. Army scout sniper Garett Reppenhagen got to Iraq, he realized that the rules of engagement he’d just learned in training had evaporated. Two Iraqi farmers trying to work their fields past curfew one night learned that at the point of a machine gun and belt-fed grenade launcher not even authorized for use on enemy combatants. They were only the first of many innocent civilians that Reppenhagen would see gunned down.