Obituary: “I am not a pacifist. I am against the war”. Gino Strada (1948-2021)

Gino Strada, 10 Settembre 2010, Mandela Forum, 9th National Congress of Emergency, Florence ©maso83

One of the most noticeable people in the field of solidarity has left us: Gino Strada, founder of the NGO Emergency in 1994, which guaranteed free medical and surgical care to the victims of wars and poverty, and a critical spirit against the corruption of Italian health, and the EU arms trade policy.

Gino Strada graduated in Medicine and Surgery at the State University of Milan in 1978, at the age of 30, and specialized in emergency surgery. From 1988 he worked with the Red Cross to assist the war wounded. Then in 1994, together with his wife Teresa Sarti, Strada founded the NGO Emergency, which in 2006 was recognized as a partner of the United Nations. From 2015 he became a member of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and, in 2018, an official partner of the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.

In 1999 he published the book Green Parrots (Pappagalli verdi). He recounts there the stories of injured and mutilated adults and children, whom he tended as a civilian war surgeon during the wars in Iraq, Pakistan, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Peru, Kurdistan, Ethiopia, Angola, Cambodia, ex-Yugoslavia, and Djibouti.

Gino Strada was a determined and moral person, a teacher of humanity and a tireless peace activist. He devoted his life to realizing the dream of a world without wars, following in Einstein’s steps, who claimed that “war cannot be humanized, it can only be abolished”.

Gino Strada said:

If one of us, any human being, is suffering like a dog right now, is sick or hungry, it affects us all. It must concern us all, because ignoring human suffering is always an act of violence, and one of the most cowardly.

I believe that war is something that represents the greatest shame of humanity. And I think that the human brain must develop to the point of rejecting this tool as inhuman.

New release: Warrior Songs releases third CD, featuring songs by Vietnam vets

The Last Thing We Ever Do:  Vietnam Era Veterans Speak Truth will be officially released on August 8 to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Warrior Songs third CD, The Last Thing We Ever Do:  Vietnam Era Veterans Speak Truth, will be officially released on August 8 to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.  The CD, featuring 14 cuts, is a collaboration of 19 Vietnam vets with 21 professional musicians and songwriters to create an eclectic compilation of rock, jazz, blues, and blue grass-inspired stories of the war and its aftereffects.  The project involved 81 studio musicians and 14 studios in the United States and Vietnam.  A total of 109 artists, 17 of whom are Vietnamese, were involved in creating the CD.  The diversity of musical styles mirrors the diversity of the stories, from the Selective Service System to combat to coping with returning to the U.S., civilian life, and moral injury.  In all, the songs on the CD chart the three stages of war: “going, there, and back.” 

Warrior Songs was founded in 2011 by Iraq War veteran Jason Moon, who, diagnosed with PTSD, attempted suicide.  He began to write songs about his experiences, and in 2010 released the CD Trying to Find My Way Home.  This led to performances at educational sessions for non-vets and veterans’ retreats, which in turn led to vets sharing their stories with him.  He realized that music could be an agency of healing for others if he could transform the stories into songs with the help of professional musicians and songwriters.  He founded Warrior Songs in 2011, and the first CD, If You Have to Ask . . ., with Moon as executive producer, was released in 2016.  The CD Women at War: Warrior Songs Vol. 2 was released in 2018 and represents the first time in the history of modern music that a full length CD was created from the testimony of women veterans.  Eighteen women veterans and two Gold Star family members supplied testimony.  17 songwriters and 64 professional musicians brought the songs to life. 13 engineers, working in recording studios across five states, created the final recordings.  In total, “Warrior Songs Vol. 2: Women at War” was produced by the collaboration of 95 people, of whom 49 were women.  Women at War won the Wisconsin Area Music Award Album of the Year for 2019.

Moon has long-range plans for Warrior Songs.  Volume 4 featuring songs by veterans of color is scheduled for a 2023 release.  Future themes are “Family, Friends, and Support,” “Native and Indigenous Voices,” “Injured and Disabled Veterans,” “Rainbow Warriors/LGBTQ ,” “Tales from the Combat Zone,” and “Women Veterans of Color.”  By 2030 he hopes to release volumes 1 through 10 as a full box set.   A supplementary 11th volume will explore the experiences of survivors of US wars. 

The new CD, as well as volumes 1 and 2, are free for veterans and are available from Warriorsongs.org.

(text by Larry Abbott)

Excerpts from the CD songs (courtesy from Warrior Songs):

Conscription

I’ve seen the war on television, seems so far away.

It could be me there on the screen, could happen any day.

Rice paddies, helicopters, Agent Orange and a jungle trail,

 Body bags and stretchers, all while the mothers wail.

And will they call my name?

 When I learn my fate?

 Will I come home again?

Oh, conscription.

(Lyrics: John Zutz & Danny Proud; Music: Lisa Johnson)

Disquieted Mind

As we burned your reality down

And I would hold you blameless 

If you’d only want me gone 

But I was cold

And you’ve been kind 

And you have kept me warm

And I’m not home

And I’ll never be home again

But I’ll take off my shoes 

And sleep on your floor if you’ll let me in

And I could never blame you

If you want to send me back where I’m from

But if you let me stay here

I can build you something out of my love

Take it or leave it

It’s a trivial gift

But there’s a thing that I’m building

From silence

And a hammer that cracks in the wind

(Jeff Mitchell and Steve Gunn)

Military Trauma. The Sacred Wound and the Warrior’s Journey Home

A free seminar by Dr. Edward Tick. May 14, 2021

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Moral Injury have proven to be of epidemic proportions in our military and veteran populations but very difficult to treat. Healing efforts must not merely strive for symptom reduction and control but match the transformed inner worlds, life experiences and values of the survivors, provide corrective experiences that counteract the traumas, and offer a life and growth path consistent with military service. Our training day will present Dr. Tick’s proven “Soldier’s Heart” holistic and psycho-spiritual-communal model for the understanding and practices that bring true healing, homecoming and transformation to our military and veterans.

Participants will:

  1. Be able to present relevant lessons from world warrior traditions.
  2. Understand the sacred and moral dimensions of military service and warriorhood.
  3. Gain a holistic understanding of Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  4. Understand and be able to apply the concept of soul wounding to PTSD and Moral Injury.
  5. Understand and be able to report the Necessities of Warrior Return.
  6. Understand the Soldier’s Heart Transformational Model and Path of Homecoming and apply it to direct work with veterans.
  7. Understand the concept of Moral Injury and be able to offer strategies for Healing and Recovery.
  8. Understand and apply the concept of restoring the warrior archetype.

Download the full program of the seminar with link to register here

Short story of close encounter in war: “Soul Operation”, by David Klein

“I’m not letting him, or any other gook sonovabitch get anywhere close to me. Especially near my eyes!” 

This conversation was going nowhere fast, but he didn’t have the option of choosing another surgeon; it was the only specialist available in this region for the relatively rare ocular condition that was slowly blinding my 80-year-old combat veteran therapy patient. Dr. Kim’s highly respected reputation mattered not. As it were, he happened to be of Chinese ethnicity.

That was all Don needed to know. He had served with the “Triple Nickel” 555th Military Police Battalion during the Korean War. From the outset, he was clear that he was still filled with rage towards his former enemy. Curiously, he reserved his deepest vitriol not for the North Koreans, but for their Chinese allies who had joined the effort to push the Americans off the peninsula and into the sea…

Download full story

New publication: “Community, Diversity and Reconciliation in Remote Vietnamese Villages” by Edward Tick

Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine, 5, 2 (2020)

Meeting with the non-combatant Pioneer Women and Men who worked the
dangerous and heavily bombed Ho Chi Minh Trail during the war. The author is sitting next to Tran Dinh Song, a southern air force veteran; Kate Dahlstedt, therapist, is standing behind.

ABSTRACT

The American War in Viet Nam created
significant divisions among their population. Factions include southern Army of
the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) veterans, northern People’s Republic or North
Vietnamese Army (NVA) veterans, Viet Cong (VC)veterans who were essentially
militia, non-combatant Pioneers – largely women, Agent Orange victims. All
these are now treated as one people, one family. Some government prejudice and
denial of benefits remains toward ARVN vets, but as we will see not among the
common people. We turn to our American experiences in the Viet Nam of today of
otherness, differentness, moral responsibility for the war, the possibilities of
reconciliation between former foes. How do the Vietnamese experience us? And
what is our experience of being the outsiders from our country that formerly
invaded this land?

Download the open-access article as PDF for free HERE.

Poet, author, psychotherapist and international activist and guide, Edward Tick,
Ph.D., (www.edwardtick.com) is author of four nonfiction books, including War
and the Soul, and two volumes of poetry. A specialist in war and trauma healing
and the cultures of Viet Nam and Greece, Ed uses the humanities, literature,
cross-cultural and ancient psycho-spiritual-cultural practices for healing.

Close Encounters in War launches a new section for stories and poetry

Stories and poems of close encounters in war

Close encounters in war are, before anything else, life experiences that change in depth those who make them. As editors of the Close Encounters in War Journal, we have always been aware of this simple but basic fact and therefore decided to open the third issue of the journal (2020) to creative writing. We wanted to propose an experimental encounter between scholarly research and forms of creative and non-fictional writing whose roots go deep into experience and imagination.

After that exciting experience, being aware that stories and poems of close encounters in war deserve a place of their own in the website, we are happy to announce the launch of the new section “Stories and poems of close encounters in war“.

This new section of the journal is divided into three subsections (Poetry, Fiction, and Testimonies and Autobiographical Essays) and is meant to be a space for creativity and exploration of all those forms of writing that help us understand war more thoroughly as a multifaceted and complex experience. We invite storytellers, veterans, practitioners, relatives and friends of veterans, poets, therapists, and much more to feel free to submit their contributions to the CEIWJ. We will be happy and grateful to read year round your original and unpublished works about your encounters in and with war, real and imagined. We will select and publish the best, more insightful, and inspiring contributions.

Call for articles: CEIWJ n. 4 (2021), “Emotions and Close Encounters in War”

The editors of the CEIWJ invite to submit abstracts by February 10, 2021

The universe of emotions has always represented a major challenge for research in every field of knowledge, from Philosophy to Physics, from Psychology to the Arts. Although everyone knows what emotions are insofar as almost everyone can “feel”, as it comes to provide a clear or systematic explanation of emotions, words fail. Today, interdisciplinary studies see cognitivists working side by side with psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, biologists, historians, and philosophers to elaborate insightful theories of emotions. One breakthrough that has oriented the new research agenda since the 1990s consists in the claim that the human mind is – despite the rationalist tradition rooted in Descartes’s philosophy and the following theories of Enlightenment and Positivism – emotional (see, for example, pivotal studies by Antonio Damasio and Joseph Ledoux in the 1990s).

During the preparation of Issue n. 3, devoted to post-traumatic stress disorder, we have grown even more aware that war and emotions are deeply entwined. We may even dare to say that if humans go to war, it is mostly due to emotions, although the rational urge to organise and explain war in term of science is equally powerful (as historian Bernd Hüppauf and ethologists such as Irenäus Eibl-Eibelsfeld have demonstrated). For sure, the individual caught in a war, from its preparation to the very experience of battle, is exposed to a great number of emotional stimuli that affect their reactions and decision-making. Propaganda, the feeling of “belonging”, affective bonds, ethical inclinations, and cultural notions such as racism, nationalism, patriotism, cosmopolitanism, as only some of the numerous and varied contributing factors that may lead people to make war or to avoid it. We believe that the “close encounter” makes this list as well as a fundamental emotional experience in war.

Issue n. 4 of CEIWJ will aim to investigate the theme of close encounters in connection to the emotions by exploring its facets both on a micro-scale, by studying individual testimonies and experiences, and on a theoretical and critical basis throughout history. CEIWJ encourages inter/multidisciplinary approaches and dialogue among different scientific fields. We therefore welcome articles that frame the topic within the context of close encounters in war from the perspective of Aesthetics, Anthropology, Arts, Classics, Cognitive Science, Ethics, History, Linguistics, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and other disciplines relevant for the investigation of the topic. Case studies may include different historical periods as well as over different geographic areas.

We invite articles which analyse the connection between war and emotions from ancient to modern and contemporary periods, from the perspective of the encounter, reaching beyond the study of military tactics and strategy and focusing on the emotional dimension of how human beings “encounter” each other – or themselves – in war. Contributions are invited to promote discussion and scholarly research from established scholars, early-career researchers, and from practitioners who have dealt with the emotional response to war in the course of their activities.

Topics and research fields that can be investigated include but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical inter/multidisciplinary approaches to the study of emotions and war;
  • The emotional impact of war on culture and social behaviour;
  • The emotional and ethical impact of language in the context of war (propaganda, pacifism, anti-war literature, etc.);
  • The emotional aspects of oral history, memory studies, therapy, and PTSD-counselling in theory and practice;
  • Expressing and representing emotions and war in music, figurative arts, literature, testimonies and personal narratives;
  • War and the emotional elaboration of death, mourning, trauma, and loss;
  • The emotional impact of colonial and civil wars, captivity and deportation;
  • Emotional response to war crimes and military justice;
  • Emotional implications of otherness, race, and gender in war-contexts.

The editors of Close Encounters in War Journal invite the submission of abstracts of 250 words in English by 10 February 2021 to ceiwj@nutorevelli.org. The authors invited to submit their works will be required to send articles of 6000-8000 words (endnotes included, bibliographical references not included in word-count: please see submission guidelines at https://closeencountersinwar.org/instruction-for-authors-submissions/) in English by 30 June 2021 to ceiwj@nutorevelli.org. All articles will undergo a process of double-blind peer-review. We will notify the results of the peer-reviewing in September 2021. Final versions of revised articles will be submitted by November of 2021.