As part of that protest, combat veterans threw their medals across at the U.S. capitol in protest against the war that was continuing under the Nixon administration. VVAW participated in and organized antiwar demonstrations, public education efforts, militant actions, and public hearings. In addition to his passages of scripture and citations of poetry was a personal statement, including the following: The Gold Star Mothers and a few others approached the cemetery gate to enter and lay wreaths, but the gate had been closed and locked upon word of their impending arrival. Injured and disabled veterans who were inpatients there were brought into the chapel in wheelchairs. Originally conceived as an option during the protest march in Washington, Camil's Phoenix Project plan was to execute the Southern senatorial leadership that was backing the war, including John Tower, Strom Thurmond, and John Stennis. Led by Gold Star Mothers (mothers of soldiers killed in war), more than 1,100 veterans marched across the Lincoln Memorial Bridge to the Arlington Cemetery gate, just beneath the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The VVAW and town citizens that supported them decided instead to camp on the village green.  By 1972, negotiations at the Paris peace talks were in full swing, signaling the beginning of the end of the war as well as the end of VVAW's primary mission. Vietnam veterans considered this to be another joke. By 1973, US combat involvement in Vietnam ended, and VVAW changed its emphasis to include advocating amnesty for draft resisters and dissenters. United States Declaration of Independence, Vietnam Veterans Against The War Anti-Imperialist, "Vietnam Veteran Ministers Arlington Memorial", http://www.vietnamveteranministers.org/chaplain/memorial.htm, http://www.c-span.org/vote2004/jkerrytestimony.asp, "Vietnam Veteran Ministers Walter Reed Memorial", http://www.vietnamveteranministers.org/chaplain/vvaw.htm, http://web.archive.org/web/20051016032051/http://innerspace-unltd.net/writing/camil.html, "How Kerry Quit Veterans Group Amid Dark Plot By Thomas H. Lipscomb", http://web.archive.org/web/20040314171432/http://daily.nysun.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:ArticleToMail&Type=text/html&Path=NYS/2004/03/12&ID=Ar00100, http://books.google.com/books?id=3AhGjLUf8SYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Turning:+A+History+of+Vietnam+Veterans+Against+the+War&hl=en&src=bmrr&ei=aW4KToW5DZGcgQfIhJCFCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=book-preview-link&resnum=1&ved=0CDgQuwUwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false, Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, The Winter Soldier Investigation sponsored by VVAW, VVAW Coordinator Barry Romo's speech against the Iraq War and cutting of veteran health care funding, GI Antiwar Movement films, audio clips, photos and libraries, Opposition to the War in Afghanistan (2001–present). As early as 1970 VVAW initiated "rap groups" in which veterans could discuss the troubling aspects of the war, their disillusionment with it, and their experiences on arriving home. Those bodies in existence have tremendous power. Veterans Against The War Veterans taking action against militarism and endless wars We are Post-9/11 service members and veterans organizing to end a foreign policy of permanent war and the use of military weapons, tactics, and values in communities across the country. , These were lonely campaigns since the "main stream" veterans groups regarded Vietnam veterans as "crybabies and losers" in general, and VVAW in particular was seen as being unpatriotic and anti-American. John Kerry, as VVAW spokesman, testified against the war for 2 hours in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before a packed room of observers and media. Price New from Used from Hardcover "Please retry" $851.00 . The Sixties Project supports the peace efforts of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc., and is committed to keeping the history of VVAW alive. VVAW occupied the Statue of Liberty a second time in 1976 to bring renewed attention to veteran issues.. , The fluctuating membership size of this organization has been a point of some confusion, with some sources claiming it peaked at over 20,000 and others claiming it never exceeded several thousand. In the mid-1970s, as VVAW membership severely dropped after the end of the war, members of Bob Avakian's militant RCP were able to gain influential positions in the VVAW, including the National Office. Several historic events would serve to fuel the organization's rapid growth as well as its decline in membership. Some of you saw right away the evil of what was going on; others of us one by one, adding and re-adding the balance sheet of what was happening and what could possibly be accomplished finally saw that no goal could be so laudable, or defense so necessary, as to justify what we have visited upon the people of Indochina. After initial refusal of entry, the veterans were finally allowed in. There were two significant battles fought simultaneously by VVAW after the fighting in Vietnam ended in 1975, that of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Agent Orange. A Washington District Court judge angrily dissolved his injunction order, rebuking the Justice Department lawyers for requesting the court order and then not enforcing it.  With the Nixon administration's decision to invade Cambodia and the Kent State shootings in 1970, VVAW's visibility increased, as did their membership, from 1,500 to almost 5000. More veterans continued to meet with and lobby their representatives in Congress. The vets planted a tree on the mall as part of a ceremony symbolizing the veterans' wish to preserve life and the environment.  With internal struggle still threatening to tear the group apart, 2,000 members demonstrated in Washington DC in July 1974, demanding universal amnesty for draft resisters and deserters, and universal discharge with benefits for all Vietnam veterans. Dischar… Intended as a public event, it was boycotted by much of the mainstream media, although the Detroit Free Press covered it daily and immediately began investigating what was being said. Membership requirements were relaxed, and political differences arose as new members fought with old about which direction the VVAW should take. Simultaneous protests took place across the country, such as at the historic Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia (for 45 minutes) and Travis Air Force Base in California (for 12 hours). , In 1973, after months of heated debate, the VVAW changed the name of the organization to VVAW/WSO (Winter Soldier Organization), and opened its membership to non-veterans as a remedy to its diminishing size. The service included time for individual prayers or public confession, and many veterans took the floor to recount things they had done or seen for which they felt guilt or anger. It was referred to by the participants as "a limited incursion into the country of Congress." The VVAW "rap group" treatment methods are the basis for treating PTSD today. VVAW considers itself as "anti-war," although not in the pacifistic sense. VVAW describes itself as a national veterans' organization that campaigns for peace, justice, and the rights of all United States military veterans. They placed the wreaths instead along the gate, and peacefully departed. Other VVAW members in California also briefly occupied the Saigon Government consulate in San Francisco.  An FBI informant within the organization notes in March, 1971 that membership had grown from 1,500 to over 12,000 in the past four months. 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