Michael Patterson

Anchorage, AK

Working-Class Parent, Homegrown Alaskan, Iraq War Veteran, Occupy D.C and long distance trail runner

I was a soldier in the United States Army. I enlisted in the Army at seventeen as a Human Intelligence Collector (Army Interrogator). At nineteen, I was deployed to Iraq and was attached to Special Operations Command. I still struggle with PTSD. I acknowledge that I personally facilitated crimes against humanity and against the Iraqi people. I was an agent of imperialism.

I strongly believe that to reconcile my complicity with U.S crimes I must be a part of a Socialist Revolution to liberate the Working-Class in the United States. That’s why I joined DSA. That’s why I’m running for NPC.

My parents moved to Alaska when I was an infant. They moved in order to work on cleaning the Valdez oil spill and we just never left. We grew up in poverty until I was about ten. I remember at one point only having powdered milk and bread in the fridge. Even though I had never been to New York City, the attacks on September 11 had a profound affect on me. On September 12, I decided at the age of eleven that I wanted to enlist in the Army as soon I could. My biggest fear that the war would be over by the time I was old enough. 

When I had left Alaska I would have considered myself a Republican. When I returned after my deployment, I was a left-leaning Democrat. After coming home I began to experience signs of PTSD. Everything came to a head one day when I was watching Chelsea Manning’s “Collateral Murder” video in my barracks room and suddenly everything clicked. I fully credit Chelsea Manning with my decision to leave the Army.

Shortly after my discharge from the Army in 2011 the Occupy movement started. I left Alaska and flew to Washington D.C to part of the movement. I was there from the first day we occupied McPherson square until the day the police attacked us and dismantled the camp. After the police attacked, I began to call myself a Socialist.

I returned to Alaska and began to educate myself in socialist theory, working low-wage jobs and attending the local university. My kiddo was born 2 years ago and I’m currently the Co-Chair of Anchorage DSA. 

Today, I work at a boys home for disabled youth. All of my kids depend on Medicaid to survive and to manage their trauma. Because I live with PTSD, I have a bond with the boys and their mental health struggles. Without access to social services and healthcare, many of these kids will end up in prison, on the street, or dead. The criminalization of mental health sets these kids up to die. Abolition is their only hope.  

In my time as an activist, I coordinated protests, demonstrations, and rallies on a local and national scale. In the Army, I learned about institutional discipline and the need for clear policies to protect marginalized people from abuse. I’m now a member of the veteran’s working group, and I look forward to emphasizing issues of imperialism and war if I am elected to the NPC. I also want to see inclusion for our comrades with disabilities, in addition to the abolition of criminalization as the social response to human needs.

Thank you.