THANK YOU IVAW
Thank you Iraq Veterans Against the War for giving me the opportunity to work with you, the community that brought me home. I don't say that lightly. Over the past six years IVAW has been a family that brought me out of a metaphorical desert of guilt, anger, confusion, anxiety, and isolation and into a home of love, hope, empowerment, and healing.
I am stepping down to continue that journey of healing and wrestle with what it means to truly dedicate my whole self to the work of social justice and creative transformation for the long haul. As many of you know, over the past three years I have not kept a sustainable pace living on the road up to eight months of the year, working upwards of 80 or 90 hours a week, neglecting my creative aspirations and family life, and repressing my own need to heal.
It is time I learn to bring my family, creative aspirations, and healing into my organizing work and vice versa. So I am stepping back to answer that question in hopes that I can be there for this community for the long haul. When we are old and tired, I want to be there for all of you and I hope you all will be there for me.
I am proud of the work I have done and the relationships I have built over the past three years. I have helped develop an organizing model, build a field organizing team, bring that model to the IVAW membership, and develop Operation Recovery, IVAW's first strategic campaign. As a result, our organizing program has helped win concrete victories for our community and develop many powerful and inspirational new IVAW leaders. One of the most brilliant and passionate of those leaders is Maggie Martin. She is the most effective natural organizer I have ever met, and my transition out of staffing creates an opportunity for even more people to experience her wisdom. I am excited for Maggie Martin to lead the organizing program through the current transition and I hope into the distant future. With her experience and insight, the organizing program will be in a good position to address some of the weaknesses and barriers to success that have emerged over the past three years and build a powerful veterans movement.
It is really all so humbling. I am excited to be a part of what is to come and support the emerging new leadership. Thank you again for the opportunity to make a living doing the work I love and believe in. It has been a humbling blessing.
I will step down from IVAW staff effective November 11th and depart for Japan November 14th to do a month long art and speaking tour with IVAW member Ash Kyrie. After returning from this journey I will begin preparing to attend the Ashkal Alwan Center for Lebanese Art in Beirut and travel throughout the Middle East in the early spring. On both of these journeys I will share the lessons I have learned with IVAW, and I hope to learn about different cultural and social projects and strategies for political transformation. I will then be heading west to build a home with my beautiful partner Nicky Baltrushes.
To our past and to our future.
Aaron Hughes an Iraq Veteran Against the War
PS: Thank you to VVAW for all your suport and mentorship. And a big shoutout to Lily Hughes, Ryan Harvey, Jose Vasquez, Robert Clack, Brad Thomson, Maggie Martin, Joe Callan, Chantelle Bateman, Andrew Wright, Amadee Braxton, Greg Rosenthal, Jason Hurd, Lovella Calica, Barry Romo, Hans Buwalda, Kelly Dougherty, Joyce Wagner, Iris Feliciano, Sabrina Waller, Vince Emanuele, Scott Kimball, Sergio Kochergin, Peter Sullivan, Greg Brouse, Jethro Hiko, Todd Denis, Joe Miller, Matt Howard, Drew Cameron, Lori Hurlebous, Ash kyrie, Maryam Roberts, Clare Bayard, Abe Mwaura, Camilo Mejia, Derek Giffen, Jason Moon, Josh MacPhee, Kyle Wesolowski, Graham Clumpner, Brock McIntosh, Erica Slone, Terry Davis, Michael Eisenscher, Nicolas Lampert, Jon Turner, Alejandro Villatoro, Chris Arendt, Crystal Colon, Jerome Grand, Daniel Tucker, Jason Matherne, Shawna Foster, Afghans for Peace, Nicky Baltrushes, my mom, and Chicago IVAW! I love you guys.