Military mom speaks out

Mary Hanna, mother of Iraq war veteran and activist Evan Knappenberger, read a prepared statement from the front porch of her Woodbrook home Friday morning, speaking out against the practice of involuntary active service extensions for members of the military and throwing her support behind her son's cause.

"I need to put my voice next to his," Hanna said. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for him."

As she chastized both the military bureaucracy that she says has lied to young people entering the armed services, and the political pressure she says her son experienced as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq, Hanna's voice shook with emotion. She addresseda small group of family, friends, fellow activists, and reporters.

"We have a moral obligation to stand up for what we believe is right," she said, calling involuntary service a "shameful practice" and "deeply troubling."

Knappenberger, who graduated from Albemarle High and joined the army in 2003, is currently holding a seven-day vigil atop a makeshift scaffolding on the Mall in Washington D.C., protesting the stop-loss and inactive reserve policies of the American military, which require soldiers to stay in or return to combat, Knappenberger claims, in violation of their original agreements.

"He went in there very gung-ho, believing in what he was doing," Hanna said of her son. "It's my opinion that he [now] feels that it's not going well."

Hanna said her son's security clearance was revoked after he complained that his intelligence reports were being ignored, and that he was discharged after not wanting to return to regular infantry duties.

Though Hanna said she has no Sheehan-esque motivations or aspirations beyond supporting her son, she feels speaking out is her maternal duty and wants others to join her. "All military parents should be doing this," she said. "I'm calling on all my friends and neighbors to add their voices to my voice and Evan's."



I'm behind you all the way! My son didn't serve, but some of his friends did and I don't know them anymore. They either drank to much or have major depression. If they were to have to go back using this method, I'm not sure they would want to live. These guys have given all they have, let them rest and get back to what ever a "NORMAL" life is in this day and time. Just maybe there would be more people willing to volunteer if not for the underhanded crap like this. The Montel show was hard enough to watch, lets all stop sitting around waiting for the other person to speak out. I know it would be scary for me to speak out if my son was over there, but the time has come to speak out or risk losing them for good either in battle or mentally. I cry for these young men and women that have lost so much and for what?? I mean really, for what?? I'm very proud to be an American, but ashamed as well. There has to be a better way it just has to be. Count me in....

great to hear from Evan's mom....he is doing such an important and unselfish thing. i had the opportunity to meet Evan and spend time with him in Bellingham during his vigil here. he talked to so many people. most didn't know about stop loss or if they did they didn't really know what an unfair,disgraceful practice it is. i learned alot during the week from Evan. what a fine young man he is!!!