Vets for Peace turn out for "Safeguard the Guard"

Mark Foreman of Milwaukee Vets for Peace speaks at a press conference in support of AB203. From left to right, veterans Dennis Coyier, John Carey and Tom Contrestan Photo: Paul McMahon

 Photo gallery here...

Vets for Peace members from Milwaukee, Madison, Sheboygan, Elkhorn, Belleville and Mt. Horeb converged on Madison March 9, to testify before the state Assembly's Veterans and Military Affairs committee in support of AB203, the Safeguard the Guard bill.

The bill would require the Governor to conduct a legal review of any federal request for troops from the Wisconsin National Guard, and to refuse any request determined to be unlawful.

Mt. Horeb resident Steve Books, a veteran of the Wisconsin Guard said, “Assembly Bill 203 would help insure that our national treasure, or what our own Governor Doyle called ‘The Greatest Citizen Militia in the World’ during his January 26 ‘State of the State Address,’ is used with clear thinking and by legal means, especially when called out of Wisconsin for service abroad.” Full testimony here...

Jane Hammat-Kavaloski of Dodgeville drew on her experience of 30 years in public education and her service on a state Task Force on Civics Education in her testimony. "In that committee we discussed how vital it was for students to understand and respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Likewise it is important for students to know something that all of you know very well - how a bill is created and passed.  But students also must understand that besides these structures and procedures of government there must be values and ethics. For our country to remain truly democratic there must be integrity and the rule of law in the legislative process." Full testimony here...

Those testifying faced tough questioning from Assembly Representative Marlin Schneider of Wisconsin Rapids, who raised concerns that requiring a legal review would impede Guard deployments overseas.

Also testifying in favor of AB 203 were the bill's author, Representative Spencer Black of Madison, and Mike Fisher, a state Representative in Vermont, who authored the nation's first state-level legislation challenging federal deployments of the National Guard. Rep. Fisher reported that a similar bill in Vermont has attracted the sponsorship of 77 of the 150 members of Vermont's lower house.