Protesters at Occupy Wall Street include veterans of the U.S. military, many of whom are struggling with their multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, mental and physical trauma and illness, and the hardships of pulling their lives back together when returning to civilian life. “It’s no secret that a lot of veterans are facing unemployment, homelessness, and a lot of other issues that are dealing with the economy,” says Jose Vasquez, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We’re standing here right around the corner from Wall Street. About a week ago, one of the largest mass arrests in U.S. history, 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. They had left this square, Zuccotti Park, what they’ve renamed Liberty Plaza, which actually was the original name of this square. Now thousands of people occupy it every day.
Tell me your names.
JOSE VASQUEZ: My name’s Jose Vasquez. I’m the executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
AMY HERRERA: I’m Amy Herrera, and I’m the Philly chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fit into this movement, why you’re here today.
JOSE VASQUEZ: Well, it’s no secret that a lot of veterans are facing unemployment, homelessness, and a lot of other issues that are dealing with the economy. A lot of people get deployed multiple times and are still kind of struggling with their deployments. So I feel like I’ve met a lot of veterans who have come here. I just met a guy who is active duty, took leave just to come to Occupy Wall Street. So we thought it was important to be here and do some outreach.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that again.
JOSE VASQUEZ: So, there’s someone who’s here who’s took leave from the military just so he could come to Occupy Wall Street. So he was inspired by what he saw and decided this is where he needed to be for a week.