Veterans Demonstrate Outside Ft. Stewart - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/21/07

Veterans Demonstrate Outside Ft. Stewart

As the Third Infantry Division deploys for their third tour of duty in Iraq, a group of veterans wants to bring them home. This afternoon, Veterans for Peace lined General Screven Way with a message for soldiers and their families.

"It's time to bring the troops home," said Harvey Tharp.

Tharp, a former Navy Lieutenant and a decorated veteran of the Iraq War is one of about 25 veterans, traveling throughout the southeast with Veterans for Peace.

"We could be in Iraq for 10 years and we could be in Iraq for 20 years," he said, "and nothing is going to change and it's just a matter of how many people are going to be killed in the meantime."

Pat Tate, is a former platoon sergeant who served in Vietnam and was once stationed at Fort Stewart.

"I think it's criminal they're being sent back for a third tour of duty," said Tate. "Since this war's onset, I've been losing brothers and sisters and I would like to bring that to an end."

Veterans said they're against the war, not against the troops. They want the soldiers at Fort Stewart to know that they have rights, including the right to appeal for a redress.

"[A redress] is a document active duty soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen can sign to encourage their congressmen and senators to bring the troops home," explained Army veteran Cherie Eichholz. "We want to get them information about their rights. We want to get them information for them to know that we support them," she added.

Former Third ID soldier Kevin Benderman thought redress was the right thing to do. Benderman spent 14 months in military prison after he was convicted in July 2005 of missing movement for failing to deploy to Iraq with his unit.

"They're not going AWOL," said Benderman. "They're not deserting. They're not doing these other things that a lot of people push some soldiers to do."

He told WTOC he had no regrets about his own actions.

"I can't tell you that going to jail wasn't a hard thing to do," he said, "but no, I don't have any regrets. I know I made the right decision for myself and for my family."

Some soldiers listened to what Benderman and the others had to say; however, at least one said he didn't think they'd get much response.

"It's their right to do what they want to do," explained Third ID Sergeant Sgt. Sean Horne. "I don't agree with it, but if they want to stand here, it's a military town. I doubt they're going to get much support."

Veterans for Peace has traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina, Fort Bragg, and Columbia, South Carolina. Tomorrow, they'll be at Mayport Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly