By Mathis Chiroux
WCW Editor’s note: Mathis Chiroux recently was called to appear before a board of U.S. Army officers in St. Louis, Missouri, and answer for his public refusal to participate in the activation and deployment orders for Iraq he had received in the summer of 2008. Mathis’ hearing resulted in a “general discharge under honorable conditions.” The following is a statement Mathis issued shortly after the hearing concluded.
On Apr. 21, I stood before the Army. I looked a board of officers in the eyes, and I told them I thought they were sending people off to participate in war crimes. And what did they say? Get out of here, Sergeant, and keep your damn G.I. Bill!!!
Indeed, folks! The Army awarded me a recommendation for a general discharge under honorable conditions from the Individual Ready Reserve for my refusal to deploy to Iraq last summer. This landmark decision means not only am I a free man, I’m free to continue school this fall with the “new” G.I. Bill that I earned while on active duty.
Though this discharge is identical to the one I refused in exchange for having this hearing, I can now rest easy knowing I never submitted, I never backed down and the Army has heard my story.
And not just my story, but the stories of those brave veterans at Winter Soldier and those who’ve participated in IVAW’s Warrior Writers’ program. Full texts of both books were submitted to the Army this morning, and I can only imagine the fun they’re having transcribing them into the record.
I testified, Marjorie Cohn, the president of the National Lawyers’ Guild, testified, and my mother Patricia testified as to why my refusal to deploy was quite legitimate and not deserving of attack by the military.
Though Maj. Laws, the prosecution, did everything he could to keep my legal arguments from the ears of the board (he even prevented me from reading to them from my Constitution calling the document irrelevant), our voices were heard loud and clear by a board of gentlemen who’ve given me a new respect and hope for our nation and servicemembers world-wide.
The hearing, which lasted around four-and-a-half hours, cemented in my mind that not only is military resistance to our illegal occupations righteous, it is finding new breath amongst troops who are fed up with the status quo.
This all came after a provocative appearance this morning on the local Fox News Channel in which I wore a patriotic symbol of distress (an upside-down flag) on my uniform.
During the hearing, my girlfriend Alexandra among others were present in the board room to offer moral support. Having them there made all the difference as I squared off with the military over human slaughter that we’ve all been forced to bow down to.
So what does this mean for the military? RESIST!!!! Now’s the time, ladies and gentleman. The flood-gates are open. Your leaders are listening, and more and more, they are agreeing. Resisters are moving away from being the exception, and slowly becoming the norm.
If I can refuse to go to Iraq, climb monuments, march into presidential debates, lobby congress, face the military, not go to jail and not even loose my G.I. Bill, we just don’t have any excuses anymore! Resistance is rising, and IVAW will stand firm underneath it. My story is now history, and I humbly pass the torch. More to follow soon on my testimony at Winter
Soldier and the juicy details of my hearing. Now, I’m going to sleep like I haven’t in a year!
Peace and Solidarity, Matthis Chiroux Matthisresists.us