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Hanna said her son's security clearance was revoked after he complained that his intelligence reports were being ignored, and that he was discharged after not wanting to return to regular infantry duties.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