Refugees From the Military-Industrial Empire

brandon_toyBrandon Toy worked for General Dynamics, one of the leading U.S. war corporations. He was an engineering project manager who built Stryker armored fighting vehicles. Before working for GenDyn, Brandon was in the Michigan Army National Guard as a rocket specialist, team leader, and vehicle commander. He deployed as a military policeman in Baghdad in 2004-2005.

Today he resigned – in protest – from the whole shebang. (Read his letter below.)

There are thousands of people who joined the military or war corporations after the attacks on Sept. 11 because they thought it was a way to being meaning to that senseless carnage. Additionally, in the midst of the Great Recession, there was only one industry that was always hiring: military-industrial-information corporations.

I applaud Brandon for “throwing down his gun.” It’s up to the rest of us to find him gainful employment in something that contributes to the “culture of life,” rather than the war machine.

He told Common Dreams on Wednesday: “I felt a lot of cognitive dissonance for the last two or three years. I knew what the truth was and what the consequences of our actions were. But I needed to make a living. … When [Edward Snowden] talked about how he had believed in the mission, joined after the Iraq war, and found out it was false, it was like my words coming out. It gave me hope that he took the chance and risked his life to do what he was doing.”

Here’s Brandon’s letter of resignation:

I hereby resign in protest effective immediately.

I have served the post-911 Military Industrial complex for 10 years, first as a soldier in Baghdad, and now as a defense contractor.

I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.At the time of my enlistment, I believed in the cause. I was ignorant, naïve, and misled. The narrative, professed by the state, and echoed by the mainstream press, has proven false and criminal. We have become what I thought we were fighting against.

Recent revelations by fearless journalists of war crimes including counterinsurgency “dirty” wars, drone terrorism, the suspension of due process, torture, mass surveillance, and widespread regulatory capture have shed light on the true nature of the current US Government. I encourage you to read more about these topics at the links I have provided below.

Some will say that I am being irresponsible, impractical, and irrational. Others will insist that I am crazy. I have come to believe that the true insanity is doing nothing. As long as we sit in comfort, turning a blind eye to the injustices of the world, nothing will change. It is even worse to play an active part, protesting all along that I am not the true criminal.

I was only a foot soldier, and am now a low level clerk. However, I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.


  1. Thinking it was back in the 1980’s that the bishop of Amarillo spoke out against a nuclear weapons plant, Pantex (was that it?).
    Anyways he urged esp Catholics to leave the company. He promised he would do everything possible to get other jobs for those who left.
    Always wondered if anyone resigned from the plant and were able to find jobs…


    • Thank you Janice for recalling that important history. Catholic bishop Leroy Matthiesen called for resignations from the Pantex plant outside of Amarillo in 1981. He took the step after hearing so many of his parishioners express their own conflicted feelings of guilt for working at Pantex, which was the final assembly point for nuclear missiles. It was all part of a vibrant conversation happening in American Catholicism about actively removing consent from the weapons of war. All of this fed into the 1983 publication of The Challenge of Peace, one of the best pastorals to come from the U.S. Catholic bishops.

      I wonder if it is time for a new moral call for people of faith and conscience to resign as an act of conscience from the military-industrial-information complex that supports war, weapons of war, and the violation of human rights.


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