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Page 18
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Thank You VVAW

By Aaron Hughes

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Without the support of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) I never would have become an organizer.

When I was first getting involved in Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and the anti-war movement Barry Romo from VVAW and a good friend of mine once told me that the most important way to measure the success of an organization or an organizer was not by how many times they got arrested or how many people followed what they said or came out to their action but instead by how many organizers they helped cultivate and develop.

This is a lesson that I have seen shared over and over again by history's great social justice organizers like Ella Baker, Miles Horton and Cesar Chavez, and powerful social justice organizations like United Farm Workers, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, United Workers, and National Domestic Workers. A lesson that I have taken to heart in working to build the IVAW Field Organizing Program and the reason I am writing this thank you.

You see, VVAW members not only encouraged Iraq veterans to form IVAW, supported IVAW financially every step of the way, helped IVAW organize projects like Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, supported IVAW in forming the Field Organizing Program, helped individual veterans navigate the VA, and supported veterans through the stresses of returning home from combat, but mentored and developed a whole new generation of veteran organizers that are committed to peace, human rights, social justice and continuing the legacy of VVAW.

So as I step down from IVAW staff I want to give thank to VVAW members for the emerging community of committed veteran organizers that would not be here without VVAW just as I would never have become an organizer without the support and mentor ship of VVAW.

In measuring successes be assured that VVAW continues to be one of histories most powerful antiwar and social justice organizations.

From the depths of my heart and with so much love, thank you.

In November 2012, Aaron Hughes will be stepping down from the IVAW Field Organizing Program to spend time with his family and work on healing and his art practice. He will be attending an art residency at the Ashkan Alwan Center for Lebanese Art in Beirut, Lebanon.

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