August 26, 2016
At the Banquet Dinner on Sunday, August 14 over 400 attendees were treated to the first ever showing of Pat Scanlon’s new music video,“Extremists” for Peace. The video was accompanied by VFP members singing along as the video played. Colonel Ann Wright commented afterwards, “I love it. I can’t stop singing it.”
The origins of the song:
After 9/11, Homeland Security was created which included the formation of eighty-six Fusion Centers, formally named Regional Intelligence Centers (RICs) across the country for the collection of local intelligence. In Boston it is known as the BRIC. These RICs received a lot of resources and equipment including surveillance equipment. In Massachusetts, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild wanted to know the extent of surveillance of area peace groups including the VFP Smedley Chapter. In order to get that information they ended up having to sue the BRIC in Federal Court. As a result of that lawsuit, in which both Pat Scanlon and the Smedleys Chapter were named as plaintiffs, they received a load of films, tapes, reports etc. Within the documents Veterans For Peace was identified as an extremist organization. Pat was troubled by the BRIC’s classification of veterans who work nonviolently for peace being labeled as in the extreme, in other words a real danger to the homeland. Upon reading this Pat went home and wrote the song,“Extremists” for Peace.
August 18, 2016
The US Peace Memorial Foundation has awarded its 2016 Peace Prize to Veterans For Peace “In recognition of heroic efforts to expose the causes and costs of war and to prevent and end armed conflict.” The Peace Prize was accepted by Michael T. McPhearson, Veterans For Peace Executive Director; Barry Ladendorf, President of the Board of Directors; and by Doug Rawlings, a VFP Founder.
Michael Knox, Chair of the Foundation, presented the award Veterans For Peace last night at the national convention banquet. In his remarks, Knox said, “Thank you, Veterans For Peace, for your tireless antiwar work, creativity, and leadership. Your organization is an inspiration to peace loving people throughout the world.”
President Ladendorf commented, “For 31 years, Veterans For Peace has been the only veterans organization that has consistently led the peace movement in an effort to abolish war, eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, expose the real costs of war, stand in solidarity with veterans and victims of war, and to keep our nation from interfering overtly and covertly into the affairs of other nations. This award is a great honor for Veterans For Peace and is a testament to the foresight, wisdom and dedication of our founders and to the thousands of VFP members worldwide who have led us in our non-violent struggle for a peaceful world. We are indeed grateful and honored to receive the 2016 US Peace Memorial Foundation Peace Prize.”
August 18, 2016
In August, VFP held our 31st annual convention in Berkeley, CA. This year, over 380 people attended the convention, of which 45 were Post 9/11 veterans. The convention was cross-generational with veterans from WWII to the current era of wars and active duty personnel. We also had veterans from our international chapters in the UK, Okinawa, and Tijuana, Mexico.
Throughout the week, we heard from many speakers: veterans, activists, scholars, and military families about the state of these times and the need for our work. The convention included 4 major plenaries, 25 workshops, 3 mini plenaries, a banquet dinner and social gatherings. Veterans For Peace was also the recipient of the 2016 Peace Prize, from the US Peace Memorial Foundation. Check out some of photos from the convention. More photos and video will be available soon!
Each year, the annual convention brings together members and activists from around the world and creates space connecting and learning, We know that these face-to-face meetings are important as we move forward and grow VFP membership internationally.
As we all know, events like this take a great deal of planning. We want to lift up the efforts of Chapter #69, the local VFP chapter in San Francisco, CA and thank them for their time and energy in planning the convention this year. The 2017 convention will be hosted by VFP Chapter #26 in Chicago, IL with a theme of “Education Not Militarization” [dates to be announced soon.] We hope to see you at our 32nd convention!
August 01, 2016
At the January 2015 Board meeting in Los Angeles, the Board listened to a presentation by Chuck Searcy of the Hoa Binh, Vietnam Chapter 160, and Paul Cox of VFP Chapter 69, San Francisco. The presentation centered on whether VFP should consider entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Project RENEW as the fiscal non profit sponsor. Project RENEW, established in 2001, is a cooperative partnership between the government of Quang Tri Province and international NGOs dedicated to restoring the environment and neutralizing the effects of war. VFP's fiscal sponsorship of RENEW would help facilitate RENEW's receipt of donations from individuals, groups, corporations or government entities like USAID.
At the time of its January 2015 meeting, the Board was aware that RENEW was interested in applying for a grant from the Leahy War Victims Fund, and that such a grant would be administered by USAID. The purpose of obtaining funding from the Leahy War Victims Fund was to provide assistance to the victims of Agent Orange. After discussing options, the Board voted 120 in favor of becoming RENEW's fiscal sponsor. The Board held a separate vote on whether VFP would act as fiscal sponsor should USAID ultimately agree to accept RENEW's grant application and issue funds to support RENEW's efforts to assist victims of Agent Orange.
After a thorough discussion, the Board voted 8 4 to act as fiscal sponsor for RENEW if it received the requested funding from USAID. During this time, the Board was advised that submission of concept papers (which precedes the filing of a grant application) would likely be due in April 2015,and VFP could expect an early decision on whether RENEW would be asked to submit a full application.
July 05, 2016
Thanks so much to the many members of Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace, Chapter 92 who showed up and helped out with Golden Rule outreach at the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival over the three day weekend. We reached thousands of people with our uniquely engaging message for nuclear disarmament, peace and sustainability.
It was inspiring to see once again how VFP members are proud and excited to be part of the VFP Golden Rule Project.
Schedule of Golden Rule Events in Seattle Area
July 04, 2016
Executive Director, Michael T. McPhearson article appeared on billmoyers.com
Two recent polls demonstrate that support for Donald Trump in the military and among veterans outpaces support for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. A May Military Times survey of active-duty troops showed Trump beating Clinton by better than a 2-to-1 margin. A Morning Consult poll of veterans and active-duty members taken later the same month showed the likely Republican nominee leading his Democratic rival by 9 percentage points.
People ask me on a regular basis why so many veterans support Trump. First, we must consider that the military personnel in general seem to skew a bit to the right. If we have more Republicans in the military — through self-selection or geographically targeted recruiting in the South — it stands to reason to have more military personnel support for the Republican nominee.
July 03, 2016
Submitted by VFP Executive Director, Michael T. McPhearson
Twenty-five years ago today, I was in Washington DC visiting my mother for the 4th of July. Having recently returned from the Iraq War, I was happy to be home with family. We watched a spectacular fireworks display meant to celebrate our country’s triumph over Saddam Hussein, and to welcome me home as part of the returning victorious U.S. military.
I can’t say I was proud, but I was impressed by the array of lights and glad to be there. I also knew that the time for me to leave active duty had drawn near. I had allowed myself to go into harms way for my country once and returned, from what I could tell, unscathed. Unless someone invaded the U.S, I had no plans to do it again. I did not fully agree with U.S. foreign policy, and I would no longer be an instrument in it.
June 24, 2016
In the days following the horrific attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando – one of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history, which claimed the lives of 49 people (50 counting the shooter) and left over 50 wounded – evidence began to mount that the gunman likely possessed multiple motives. This evidence is not surprising in light of what research has revealed about the origins of violence, which includes the knowledge that most people who commit violent acts are driven by a complex, multifaceted and intertwined set of factors. The underlying root causes of violence, then, cannot be reduced to one or two sources. To invoke a cliché, the world is not black and white. The nature of violence is no exception, and our individual and collective understanding of it must not be either if we are to effectively address and prevent all forms of it.
It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the shooter’s perceived justifications for perpetrating the murderous rampage may have been intense psychological and emotional pain over his sexual orientation – a catastrophic blend of deep shame, humiliation and bitterness over his possible queerness. Besides his apparent queer inclinations, there were several noteworthy details about the shooter’s life that were omitted during many discussions about motives: his history of domestic violence, both as a victimizer and a witness to it in childhood; his employment with G4S, one of the largest private security firms in the world, for which he rendered services that included the imprisonment and mistreatment of juvenile offenders; and, his fascination with the NYPD, which he apparently idolized as a would-be police officer. In addition, based on testimony from eye witnesses and acquaintances, racism could also have influenced his choice of target. What is more, we know from reports that both the ideologies behind and atrocities of the so-called U.S-led “war on terror” and terror groups operating across the world could have contributed to the gunman’s unspeakable act.
June 15, 2016
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
June 15, 2016
As veterans and as members of Veterans For Peace, we have not forgotten our oath to protect the Constitution. In a direct assault on the First Amendment’s fundamental right of free speech and in a blatant attempt to suppress that speech, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order that would create a blacklist of groups, institutions, businesses and withdraw state funds from any organization or institution that in any way supports or endorses boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a tool in the struggle against Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.
The BDS movement, initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society, is now a global campaign using nonviolent means to place economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law; end the occupation of Palestinian land, including Gaza; grant full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
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