Welcome to the official website for the documentary film Grounds for Resistance by Lisa Gilman.

In November 2008, a group of U.S. veterans opened COFFEE STRONG, a coffee shop located outside the gates of the U.S. Army base Fort Lewis in Washington. Inspired by the Vietnam-era G.I. coffee house movement, Coffee Strong provides a safe space where service members, military families, and veterans can drink coffee and discuss issues, such as their experiences of war, deployment concerns, the hardships of life in the military, and veteran benefits.  Members of Coffee Strong–most of whom were deployed one or more times to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all of whom are under the age of 30–provide G.I. rights counseling and direct people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual assault, discrimination, recruiter abuse, and medical and legal problems to the appropriate resources. They also provide counseling for those seeking options for leaving the military early, including entry-level, dependency, hardship, medical, psychological, and conscientious objection. Visitors to Coffee Strong read books from the free library, use the free computers with Internet access, explore literature on war and imperialism, and enjoy special events, such as punk rock shows and movie nights.

This fifty minute documentary film is about Coffee Strong: its importance for its most active members, active duty soldiers and their families, veterans of recent and past conflicts, and regional and national political movements. At the center of the film are the men and women whose experiences in the military and war compel them to commit themselves to help others who are serving or have served in the past. Each individual featured in the film exists within a nuanced tangle of conflicting emotions tried to pride, dedication to service, friendship, anger, disillusionment, sadness, and guilt. The film examines each one’s stories from their decisions to join the military, their experiences of war, and their motivations for devoting themselves to Coffee Strong. It explores how their relationships with one another and their activist efforts to make a more peaceful and just world help them cope with their own experiences.


About Lisa Gilman

I am a professor of Folklore and English at George Mason University. This is my first film project though I've been working for several years on a project with veterans about music and war. I also do research in Malawi on dance, gender, and politics.
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2 Responses to Welcome!

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  2. In the summer of 2010, I was at the Lewiston Arts Festival in August, when a guy saw my 2008 book, This War Won’t Cost Much. He said, “You should give war a chance.” He then continued, “It has led to some really great innovation.” I asked him if these things could have still resulted without war. As he was walking away he mentioned something about war making men out of boys. I didn’t get a chance to respond, but I should have said, “I worked with Richard Knaus in Cheektowaga a few years ago. He was shipped off to Vietnam and never returned alive. Do you have anything more to say?” That same afternoon a gentleman who had been in the service saw my book and said, “No one hates war more than a soldier.” A few months later, when I relayed these encounters, a woman whom I talked to said that if someone needs to enlist to become a man, he’d never be one.

    At the Letchworth Arts & Crafts Festival in 2010, someone mentioned the Greatest Generation, as covered in Tom Brokaw’s book. I objected, saying if they were that, they would have brought up their war experiences and made efforts so that we wouldn’t have had Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I and II, Afghanistan and all the others in the last 65 years.

    Today, we have a great opportunity for a true Greatest Generation, if we can only stand up and work towards peace, ending war, as we know it. My book is a free download at my website, bobcooks.com.

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