“Yes to the Troops, No to the Wars,” by Wayne Finegar, Quaker House, Fayetteville North Carolina

The message at Durham Friends Meeting on February 5 was “Yes to the Troops, No to the Wars,” by Wayne Finegar, the Executive Director of Friends House in North Carolina. He spoke about the ministry of Friends House, about his own role in being its leader — a ministry of service he called it — and about his preparation (also doubts) for doing this work. He grew up in Sandy Spring Friends Meeting where he is still a member, went to Swarthmore College, earned a law degree, worked for a time as an attorney, married and became a stay-at-home dad, then worked for Baltimore Yearly Meeting (Associate General Secretary, then Acting General Secretary), before coming to Quaker House a year ago — just as the war in Ukraine began. He shared with us this description of Quaker House (“a place of peace in a place of war” that “works to end wars and militarism”):

What is Quaker House?

Quaker House is a manifestation of the Friends’ (or Quaker) Peace Testimony. Based in Fayetteville, NC, home of Ft. Bragg, Quaker House provides counseling and support to service members who are questioning their role in or treatment by the military; educates them, their families, and the public about military issues; and advocates for a more peaceful world.

Quaker House began in 1969 when Dean Holland, a Vietnam era soldier seeking CO (conscientious objector) discharge, hitch-hiked from Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina to Chapel Hill Friends Meeting to request their help. Once there, he said to the Meeting, “Quakers should be in Fayetteville.”

The response of Chapel Hill Friends was the founding of Quaker House. The work was soon joined by Durham and Raleigh Friends Meetings, and then by other meetings and supportive individuals. By July 1969, the Board named the first director, Wood Bouldin, and rented a house near downtown Fayetteville.

In the 50+ years then, Quaker House has evolved in a variety of ways, in response U.S. wars and their harmful effects on our service members, their families, the Fayetteville community, and the nation.

Our founding support for active military participants has become the GI Rights Hotline. Along with other groups, Quaker House’s counselors handle several thousand calls per year, from military members stationed anywhere over the world. The counselors advise on issues of conscientious objection, AWOL, forms of discrimination, harassment, and other related issues.

The recognition of the effects of trauma on the military and their families led to the development of the Quaker House Counseling Service. We provide confidential counseling for participants and families experiencing domestic abuse, moral injury, and substance abuse.

Quaker House is deeply rooted in the traditions and practices of the Religious Society of Friends. After more than fifty years, we remain steadfast in our motto: “Yes to the Troops. No to the Wars.” This means advocacy for peace and against militarism in our schools, our homes, and our society.

The counseling provided through the GH Rights Hotline and the Counseling Service is free to everyone. Quaker House depends on the support of donations to continue our work.

For more information: Wayne Finegar, Quaker House Executive Director

quakerhouse.org                  910-323-3912                       execdirector@quakerhouse.org

GI Rights Hotline       24/7

GIRightsHotline.org              877-447-4487