To Victor Agosto, Ft. Hood, Texas:
‘You will deploy in support of OEF on or about [XXXXX] with 57th ESB. This is a direct order from your Company Commander CPT Michael J. Pederson.’
By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / May 7 / 2009
In a photo taken at Under the Hood Café in Killeen, Texas, Victor Agosto stands soldier tall, flanked by two older women peace activists from Fort Worth. Victor doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does he reveals a resolve and intelligence that seems far older than his 23 years.
Victor has served three years and nine months in the U.S. Army, including one tour in Iraq. His Estimated Termination of Service (ETS) date was until very recently August 3, 2009. With his impeccable record and accrued leave, he was slated for release at the end of June. That date slipped away, apparent victim to the Stop Loss clause that renders the phrase “voluntary service” meaningless. The Army has told Specialist (SPC) Victor Agosto that he will be deployed to Afghanistan. He has told the Army he won’t go.
Victor’s Facebook page posts the specifics. His Counseling Form dated May 1st states the Army’s position:
“You will deploy in support of OEF on or about [XXXXX] with 57th ESB. This is a direct order from your Company Commander CPT Michael J. Pederson.”
Victor’s Session Closing statement is succinct:
“There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan. The occupation is immoral and unjust. It does not make the American people any safer. It has the opposite effect.”
Victor has been something of a fixture at Under the Hood. In the small house turned gathering spot, a free speech zone has been created for GIs, military families and friends. Coffee, snacks and GI Rights literature is available.
A large world map featuring U.S. interventions takes up one wall. The first interventions posted were Iraq and Afghanistan. Gradually, more countries and dates have been added: Chile, 1973, the CIA-backed military coup; Guatemala, 1954, the Marine invasion; Iran, 1953, the CIA-backed overthrow of the democratic government.
Under the Hood is a place where GIs can talk, relax, and think. It is the thinking that has brought Victor to his decision. In his words, “The supportive ‘family’ that I have found at Under the Hood helped me muster up the courage to resist.”
[Under the Hood Café is a project of the Fort Hood Support Network. Donations can be made at underthehoodcafe.org.: Rag Blog contributor Alice Embree is a founder of Austin’s original underground paper The Rag and serves on the Board of the Fort Hood Support Network.]