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Peace Soldiers March Across America for Veterans' Rights
by Carol harvey ( carolharveysf [at] yahoo.com )
Tuesday Dec 10th, 2013 10:06 AM
Two San Francisco Occupy veterans, Stephen Michael Clift (Army) and James Cartmill, (Navy), radicalized and humanized by their military service and their Occupy experience, began a self-described 'epic' 'Trans-national mission to wage peace,' Code Name: March Across America, a quest to end veterans' homelessness by preventing and healing the spiritual wounds vets incur from their war experience and military service, and to carry a personally crafted flag signed by many veterans to their model and guide, the heroic and revered veterans' advocate, Scott Camil, on his 67th birthday, May 19th.
On Tues / November 19, 2013, two Occupy veterans, Stephen Michael Clift (Army) and James Cartmill, (Navy), radicalized and humanized by their military service and their Occupy experience, began a self-described 'epic' 'Trans-national mission to wage peace,' Code Name: March Across America.

This two-man team represents Occupy Veterans San Francisco (OVSF), a working group of Occupy San Francisco.

Their journey will be undertaken in the name of Veterans For Peace whose 81+ chapters they are determined to visit. They intend to advocate for “the establishment of a special [VFP] chapter for homeless veterans and other non-joiners,” to honor the government's chosen goal of ending veterans' homelessness by 2015.

The Occupy Veterans San Francisco mission statement stresses encouraging U.S. Veterans to cease suiciding through “addictions and despair” and “instead take their lives back into their own hands, without depending on either government styled bureaucracy or on the Federal Government itself which has exploited the soldier and continues to exploit the veteran soldier through many of the various so-called charitable or non-profit organizations.”

At this writing, the OVSF team is heading south from San Francisco toward “the sun drenched waves of San Diego,” visiting towns along the Pacific Coast. So far, they have established temporary base camps and Field Service Centers as they passed through San Jose (Tues / 11-19), Santa Cruz (Tues / 11-26-13), Monterey (Sun / 12-1-13), Salinas (Tues / 12-3-13), and King City, CA (Thurs/ 12-5-13). They will soon arrive in San Luis Obispo.

These are two veterans whose service has trained them well in survival skills: How to weather rough conditions, sleep outdoors on city streets, under Monterey pines, or on beaches, 'spangeing' ('spare changing') for bus money or food as they walk, thumb, bus, or bike to each new location.

In his serial blog posts on his website, http://occupyveteranssanfrancisco.weebly.com/ Mike Clift writes of waking up to sunlight filtering through the branches of trees, while “two husky little squirrels run and leap, joyously defying gravity.”

From San Diego the two will swing east, crossing the Southern states where they will hit “every Veterans For Peace chapter between here and Gainesville, [Florida].”

Gainesville is the home of Mike's personal hero, Viet Nam veteran, Scott Camil.

They will conduct an Occupy Direct Action, bearing the symbol of their mission, a Peace Dove flag, on which they will collect veterans' signatures for an May 19th surprise birthday greeting honoring Camil for his help ending the Viet Nam war, conducting the Winter Soldier campaigns, and founding VVAW, Viet Nam Veterans Against The War.

Wrote Mike, “I just read about [Camil] in a book, and I was amazed and shocked and surprised and cried and laughed, but the guy's a living hero, and I'm honored to take this upon myself to surprise him on his birthday with these loving well-wishers' signatures collected from across the country.

“Scott Camil is awesome. He's more like my Dad, I guess. And, I've got to carry this flag to him to show him that I love him.”

They intend to connect with, “strengthen and encourage,” other Occupy groups and build “The Occupy Railroad.”

In each town these Peace Soldiers visit, their modus operandi is to first reconnoiter, locating the Veterans Memorial where they personally honor soldiers who gave their lives. Then, they radiate outward establishing a 'field spectrum,' in which they determine the best location for their Veterans Field Service Center. At this VFSC locus, they may hand out leaflets to those they engage in conversation. Or, Occupy style, they may megaphone messages to people passing by.

In their video diaries, they explain that their chosen tools of Peace are a megaphone, launching words instead of ordinance, and a camera, shooting live action instead of deadly bullets.

In their megaphone addresses, they plan to weave together local and global issues. Mike, whose Occupy name is Pirate, describes his speaking style as different from James,' who calls himself 'Liberty' or 'One Liberty.'

“I tend to be polite yet frank, sometimes steamed, fact-driven op/ed style, and Liberty tends to comically rant, Ala CARLIN TECHNIQUE.

“Our favorite bit is the QnA on horn relay, usually short bursts.”

In the future, they intend to show the Fran Strine video about homeless, addicted veterans, 'Battlefield of the Mind.'

You can follow their trip on the Occupy Veterans San Francisco website where James and Mike speak about their adventures on video together. Part 1 and 2 have been posted on Writing For Godot videos, titled 'Veterans March Across America.'

James, an accomplished photographer and videographer, also has several websites full of photos and videos at:

#ICM3 Website - http://independentcitizenmedia.weebly.com
#OSFTV Ustream - http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupysftv
#OSFTV YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/OccupySFTV
Livestream Archive #OSF 2011 - http://www.livestream.com/occupyliberty

I intend to write updates throughout these two Peace Veterans' 'Epic journey.' In the next installment, I will tell you more about them. You may feel you know them personally, but there will be much to discover as they stride across America toward their mutual holy grails.

Their website also has a Paypal button for contributions to this important effort. They are documenting for their followers exactly how such monies have been spent.

http://occupyveteranssanfrancisco.weebly.com/

[All quotes above are taken from Mike Clift's blog posts.]