September 30, 2016
Executive Director Michael McPhearson recently gave remarks at the World Without War Conference. #NoWar2016
Below are his remarks in text:
Changing War Culture to Peace Culture
by Michael McPhearson
During the past decade I have been told on more occasions than I can count that my Veterans For Peace t-shirt or the idea of Veterans For Peace is a great idea, “but” - the person goes on to explain to me why peace is not possible. I have never met anyone who does not want peace or an end to war, but I have met countless people who do not believe we can achieve it. So that has led me to believe that the most entrenched obstacle we face is not the Pentagon, corporations or the military industrial complex. Our greatest challenge is to help enough people believe peace is possible so that we have the political and social will to achieve it. It is impossible for us to achieve our goals without a critical mass of people who also share a vision of a peaceful world. Most people simply will not work to achieve something that is not possible. Further, humans tend to create what they believe is possible and acceptable. If people believe peace is impossible and war is acceptable, they will not demand real and lasting peace but will expect and accept war. For some this may not seem relevant, however I believe it is extremely important because there is clearly not enough of us to bring about the changes we seek, which increasingly are changes we need for humanity to survive.
September 30, 2016
Veterans For Peace is saddened to learn that former staff member and veteran, Chris Snively has passed away. He worked for the National office from 2001-2003.
Read the touching tribute from his family.
Former Executive DIrector, Woody Powell, offers these words in memory of Chris:
Chris Snively came to the VFP office very soon after it had moved to St. Louis from Washington, D.C. He brought to the task of office manager an easy-going, amiable yet very efficient presence that quickly earned the respect and good will of our somewhat polyglot and sometimes fractious membership. I never heard him hang up a phone angry or saw him scowl and mutter the way I would.
September 26, 2016
The VFP Chorus singing new lyrics to the National Anthem, as written by VFP Board Member, Tarak Kauff and member Ellen Davidson.
Also be sure to check out member Doug Rawlings article that contain the lyrics:
September 23, 2016
Advisory Board member, Ann Wright, is getting ready to embark on the Women's Boat to Gaza. Make sure to follow her journey!
She sent an update to Veterans For Peace:
"We will be in Messina with our new delegates that are arriving from all over the world! We have had wonderful delegates on the first two legs--such worldwide solidarity for Palestinians.
Do check out the great photos and stories--and our Al Jezeera team that was on board from Ajaccio to Messina are posting great videos as well as our Israeli journalist!!!
Wish us smooth seas for the 1,000 mile journey! Break the Israeli Blockade of Gaza!!!"
Below is an update from the Boat:
Messina, Italy – This morning the community of Messina, Italy welcomed the participants on board Zaytouna-Oliva as they arrived following their voyage from Ajaccio, France. The sailing boat will leave Messina for its final destination, the shores of Gaza.
Lucio Intruglio, the local organizer in Messina noted “we have been waiting eagerly for our sisters to arrive and have a variety of activities to celebrate their mission.” During their stay at Messina, the women will participate in a nonviolence training and have a chance to meet with citizens, student groups and the mayor of Messina. Intruglio adds “but we will also be sure they get plenty of rest. We know that it is a long difficult journey and we want them to leave Messina refreshed for this important next leg.”
September 07, 2016
The Veterans For Peace (VFP) delegation of six members from different chapters around the US is traveling to Okinawa to join the local resistance to oppose the expansion of two US military bases. Our delegation consists of a diverse team of war veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. Also, three of the members are former US Marines who were stationed on Okinawa during their service.
In Henoko Bay, the USMC wants to expand its Camp Schwab base to build an airstrip, which will destroy an entire ecosystem underneath the bay area. The bay is filled with hundreds of endangered species including the famous Dugong, a beautiful marine mammal. The bay isn’t the only destruction caused by the US military. Okinawa’s fragile democracy is being crushed by the presence of the US military.
A recent poll showed that 80% of the all islanders of Okinawa oppose the expansion of Camp Schwab. As a joint effort made by both governments of Japan and the US, the peoples voice in Okinawa is not only being ignored, but destroyed. Remember, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between both countries is considered superior to Japan’s own Constitution. In a nutshell, whatever America wants in Japan, America gets in Japan.
Thousands of islanders have been protesting the new base in Henoko for over 12 years. As VFP members, we want to stop the US military from intervening in other nation’s affairs, but as Americans we want Okinawa to strengthen its democracy. The local resistance has welcomed us with open arms. Being Americans, and even former members of the US military, our presence here in Okinawa has had a huge impact.
We’ve had dozens of people thank us personally for traveling and joining the resistance. Despite the idea of the US military taking control over the island without permission from the people, Okinawans love Americans. They understand the distinction between Americans and the American government. In return, we’ve been inspired and motivated by the strength of the islanders. We want to understand them more, provide support, and share their stories back home as well as with other movements of resistance around the world.
The second site where VFP joined protestors is in Takae where new helipads are being constructed. Two helipads already exist and four more are being built. Of the 1.4 million people on the island, 70% of the people oppose the new helipads.
These helipads are built for the USMC V-22 Osprey Helicopters. Despite having a reputation of being an accident-prone helicopter, these Ospreys are still being used by the USMC. US Marines fly these helicopters at a dangerously low altitude disturbing most of the residents of Takae.
September 06, 2016
Delegations of Veterans For Peace activists have arrived in Okinawa, Japan, to join protests against the construction of U.S. Marine helipads in Takae, as well as the construction of a new U.S. military base in Henoko. Residents of Okinawa have staged massive protests against both the proposed base and the helipads. Okinawa already houses about 26,000 U.S. troops. The Veterans For Peace delegations arrived as a U.S. marine was arrested in Okinawa for allegedly trying to enter a woman’s apartment. Earlier this summer, protests erupted on Okinawa after a former U.S. marine working as a civilian contractor at a U.S. base was accused of raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. The victim’s father has called for the removal of all U.S. bases on Okinawa.
Veterans For Peace members Ken Mayers, Tarak Kauff and Mike Hanes sing a rousing rendition of "Lay Down My Sword and Shield" while in the midst of a Japanese police cordon on Okinawa. The VFP team is on Okinawa to stand with, support and learn from Okinawans opposed to the American military presence on Okinawa. Polls show as many as 80% of Okinawans are opposed to the American military bases on their island.
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!
Conventions, of course, also cost money. We want to thank all of our donors, current members, and lifetime members. We couldn’t have done this without you! If you haven’t recently given to VFP, please consider making a one time donation of $10, $20, $50 or more. Give this month and your gift will be doubled, thanks to a generous matching donation from VFP Chapter #56 in Humboldt County, CA.
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.
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