U.S. Veterans Lobby Congress to Close School of the Americas Print

Tuesday, September 24, 1PM
National Press Club, Zenger Room
529 14th St. NW, Washington DC


Fr. Roy Bourgeois
spent four years in the military. He received a Purple Heart for service in Vietnam. After leaving the military he became a Catholic priest and worked in Latin America for six years. He is the founder of SOA Watch, a grassroots organization dedicated to closing the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

Laura Slattery is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY. She was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division. Since leaving the military in 1991, she has been involved in many forms of social service and activism. Last November she hung her Army Battle Dress Uniform on the fence of Ft. Benning, during a protest of 10,000 people to close the SOA.

Jack Gilroy served in the Naval reserves for two years, and in the Army for two years. He engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience at the SOA for the first time six years ago. Since then he has visited Washington DC regularly to meet with members of congress. He has served six months in prison for nonviolent civil disobedience at Ft. Benning.


U.S. Veterans comprise a major contingent within the growing movement to close the SOA/WHISC. Vets from around the country are in Washington, DC this week for two days of lobbying and educational activities, including distributing a new video The New Patriots to Members of Congress.

The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in documented human rights atrocities. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution. In December 2000 Congress authorized the WHISC to replace the SOA. The renaming of the school was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its reputation. SOA Watch maintains that the underlying purpose of the school, to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by aiding and influencing Latin American militaries, remains the same.

?The SOA is the terrorist training camp in our own backyard,? said Fr. Bourgeois.