Military Counseling Network (Germany)
The Military Counseling Network (MCN) is a non-profit GI Rights organization dedicated to being a free source of information to U.S military members concerning military regulations and discharges, with an emphasis on working with military personnel who wish to apply for a conscientious objection discharge. The Network is a project of the German Mennonite Peace Committee (Deutsches Mennonitisches Friedenskomitee, DMFK) and is located in Bammental, Germany. MCN is part of the GI Rights Network. MCN provides information on a wide range of regulations and discharges, such as conscienctious objection, medical, and hardship to U.S military members stationed in Europe. Counselors do not provide legal advice, but assists in finding lawyers who can give appropriate advice.
MCN has its origins in September 1986, when Bill Boston created the "Military Counseling Project – Mutlangen" in West Germany, offering an independent source of information about GI rights and discharge possibilities for US service members. In the fall of 1987, Janice Hill and Andre Gingerich Stoner joined with Boston and created the ‘Military Counseling Network. The first mission statement read:
Presently more than 250,000 members of the US military and their families and US civilian employees are stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany. Many of them suffer violations of rights and face conflicts of conscience and other difficulties within the military. The Military Counseling Network advises US soldiers free of charge about their rights under military law and can assist them in achieving various discharges (conscientious objection, medical, hardship, etc.). The network of trained civilian counselors was established because soldiers are often poorly informed of their rights and until now had no source of assistance in Germany outside of the military. The network also seeks to build bridges and foster dialogue between US soldiers and the German population in order to break down stereotypes and prejudices. MCN counselors are committed to the principles of nonviolence. The network works in close cooperation with European, American, and international human rights, peace, church, and women’s groups.
Through trainings in cooperation with the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), the network expanded and included counselors in Berlin, Frankfurt, Mutlangen, Heilbronn, Tübingen, and Hunsrück. All of the counselors contributed on a voluntary, part-time basis, while continuing in their other jobs until August of 1990, when MCN officially closed due to financial struggles and a number of counselors leaving the area. Later that month, however, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the US military build-up in the Middle East began. Over 100,000 US troops were deployed from Europe, and the need for MCN revived. During this time, MCNs' caseload increased, and counselors were brought over from the US to help with the counseling. By mid-1995, however, MCN was disbanded as a coordinated organization after another decrease in case load.
In 2003, when the United States prepared for another war in the Middle East, David Stutzman saw the reemerging need for military counseling. With the help of Connection e.V, Mennonite Central Committee, and Ohne Rustung Leben, MCN was re-founded as a project of DMFK (German Mennonite Peace Committee) 17 days before the War in Iraq began. After 2004 there were two full-time personnel in the office.
Mennonite Central Committee Peace Section. "Military Counseling Network: Helping Military Servicemembers Lay Down Their Arms." Peace Office Newsletter 38 (January-March, 2008). Available online at: http://mcc.org/peace/pon/mcc_pon_08_01.pdf
Address: Hauptstrasse 1, D-69245 Bammenta, Germany
Website: Military Counseling Network
Website: GI Rights Hotline
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Hershberger, Daniel. "Military Counseling Network (Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2009. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/military_counseling_network_germany.
APA style: Hershberger, Daniel. (March 2009). Military Counseling Network (Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/military_counseling_network_germany.