G.I. Voice "is a non-profit corporation in the State of Washington founded in 2007 made up of recent veterans and civilian supporters. We currently work on three related programs: Coffee Strong, this website, and G.I. Radio."|
Coffee Strong "is a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse. Veterans provide a safe place for soldiers to share the effects of disastrous wars, within 300 meters of the gates at Ft Lewis. The unique coffeehouse welcomes soldiers with a free cup of coffee. There is access to the Internet, an informative library, and many referrals are available to community resources, including GI Rights counseling and Veterans Benefits. Free legal and educational resources are available."
Seth speaks about the history of the coffee house and why it is so critical to soldiers, both during and after their service. At first the army designated the coffee house as subversive, but they have since changed their attitude and no longer discourage soldiers from taking advantage of the important and crucial services provided.
As one example, if a soldier mentions that he or she is gay, civilian counselors aren't required by law to turn the name over to the authorities, in accordance with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" army regulations.
Another crucial service, among many others mentioned in the interview, is that they assist soldiers with the cumbersome bureaucratic red tape of the Veterans Administration once they are back in the States.
Quote from Coffee Strong website:
"Coffee Strong serves as a safe place for active duty soldiers, military families and veterans to discuss issues like: war, deployment, PTSD, and the hardships of life in the military. In addition, the caf? strives to spark and support soldiers building relationships amongst themselves to improve their everyday lives."
According to Seth, the coffee house runs in the red every month and it is only grants and donations that keep it's doors open. They are currently in a matching funds campaign for the next two months.
Photographs by Kellie La Bonty