Send Anti-War Veterans to Students

Debra Sweet |  December 9, 2020 

When World Can’t Wait was founded in 2005, we spent four years raising the demand that the Bush regime be driven from power via mass non-violent protest and prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  We knew that those crimes would happen again and worsen if accepted and normalized, as they were under the Obama administration.

In 2016, we joined in the formation of, as an exponentially more dangerous cabal entered the White House.  People in the U.S. did not rise up in protest at the level needed to drive out Trump and Pence either, but they were voted out.  We celebrate that open fascism has been rejected by a majority of voters, yet grapple with the fact that 73 million voted for it.  Much of World Can’t Wait’s energy and expertise has gone into the battle to stop this homegrown U.S. variety of fascism, for which your active and financial support is very much needed. 

You may donate online; or by check/money order. 
Your donations may be tax-deductible if given through The Alliance for Global Justice , our fiscal sponsor.

The very important work against the ongoing crimes of our government continues by World Can’t Wait. It is funded solely by your donations, centered primarily around our We Are Not Your Soldiers project. Formed in 2008, this grassroots effort brings veterans into classrooms to share their experiences in the U.S. military and engage in dialogue with high school and college students. We Are Not Your Soldiers brings exposure of imperial wars to a generation largely unaware of the crimes being carried out throughout the world in their names. As both awareness and activism has grown among youth especially around white supremacy, immigration, climate crisis and the Trump administration, We Are Not Your Soldiers has drawn the connections between these issues and U.S. wars, to consider the U.S. as the “policeman of the world.”

We Are Not Your Soldierspresentations are free of charge to the schools. Your donations will keep us going through 2021, remotely for now, hopefully in person later in the year.

Even with the onset of the pandemic, we completed visits to 36 classes in a wide variety of schools.

In a We Are Not Your Soldiers presentation, the veterans tell their own vivid stories of how the military affected them and address the effects on the peoples of the countries under attack. Speaking so openly and forthrightly is difficult and not many veterans can do this. We are very grateful to each of our speakers: John Burns, Will Griffin, Miles Megaciph, Lyle Rubin and Joe Urgo.


Pre-lockdown/school closure, the veterans speak with students in various classrooms.

In a NYC alternative high school, a question was asked that comes up in almost every class: “If you had the option, would you join the military again?” At the end of that session, a young man wrote in the chat: “This was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your hard truths.”

We Are Not Your Soldiers began the first half of 2020 with in-person presentations until the COVID19 pandemic made it impossible to continue. We completed:

  • An all-women NYC charter school where students had been reading a novel about the war on Vietnam. Wanting exposure to varying perspectives, the teacher felt “We Are Not Your Soldiers’ work supports this goal and pushes all our thinking on the ideas we typically have about wars.”
  • NYC middle school class, two alternative high school classes and three college philosophy classes.
  • Four Philadelphia high schools and a college class. Students consistently reacted with surprise at three things:
            1) The U.S. is currently involved in 7 wars dropping a bomb every 12 minutes in at least one of those countries.
            2) The U.S. has over 800 military bases outside its borders while the total bases of all other countries outside their borders is at most 60.
            3) The U.S. is the richest country in the world. This had not been evident to them in their schools or communities.
  • Three college social psychology classes in North Carolina which had been pre-COVID-arranged to be remote. We connected to their study of the Stanford prison experiment and the Milgram experiment to the depersonalization and dehumanization processes in Marine boot camp which erodes recruits’ resistance to becoming killers.

This fall semester we got off to a late start due to the effects of the pandemic on education. It has been a different experience doing all our visits remotely. But, we’re off and running:

  • Three JROTC classes in Philadelphia where we were invited after students raised concerns about the U.S. military being used domestically against BLM protesters.
  • An evening with a NY State suburban church youth group.
  • Several classes at an alternative high school in Manhattan where students spoke of relatives and close friends who had noticeable behavioral changes, some dealing with PTS, after stints in the military. One young woman wrote in the chat, “My brother left the military because the sergeant abused him. Does that happen often or was he just unlucky?” Another asked, “How does it feel to you to hear veterans and those who died for their country called suckers and losers?”
  • Two college ethics classes in NYC raised significant issues. “Is there a correlation between dehumanization and the depersonalization process and is that involved in PTSD?” “Does the dehumanization and depersonalization process affect the assimilation of veterans back into society?”  “Do you think the ‘othering’ of people is carried on within the U.S. too?”
  • A virtual day at a large NYC high school talking with five classes.

We always emphasize that students shouldn’t believe us any more than “authority figures” such as the mass media. They should do their own research and check on facts for themselves. We also introduce morality as a core idea for students to consider throughout the presentation and discussion – knowing the difference between right and wrong and what to do when you know something is wrong.


speaking remotely


Connecting remotely for presentations.

 Your support is needed to continue this life-changing program.

We Are Not Your Soldiers can’t go on without your help. We need to broaden our outreach by advertising. We need to supply stipends to the veterans allowing them to take time off from work in order to share information with young people to which they would otherwise not be exposed. These are challenging times for all of us, especially for the youth. The experiences described here give a sense of what a difference We Are Not Your Soldiers can make. Please donate today on-line or by writing a check. Thank you for your support.

And, spread the word of what We Are Not Your Soldiers is doing. If you know educators, students, parents, suggest they invite us to their schools.


Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait

Stephanie Rugoff, Coordinator,


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.