2021 Board Candidates

2021 Board Candidates
Michael Dempsey Dave Logsdon
Danny Beever Susan Schnall
Ken Mayers Bruce West
Paul Cox Bill Homans

 

 

Michael Dempsey

I am currently serving on the VFP Board Of Directors, filling a vacancy created after a prior member stepped down unexpectedly. Recently I accepted the role of Recording Secretary, again stepping up when a vacancy occurred unexpectedly.

My reason for joining the Board is simple, I believe in organizing for peace and justice, and exposing the cost of military solutions to social problems world wide. The main reason this country does not have adequate social programs is its military budget.

Retaining and increasing membership in all organizations is an ongoing problem, that requires multiple actions. Open and transparent communication between the Board and membership is necessary. All members need to be involved in; committees, projects, actions, recruiting, fundraising etc. VFP is the best kept secret in the world

 VFP could be organized in regional districts, with a Board member as the director, and various chapter members of the district as committee members, and have scheduled regional meetings. We have to make alliances with All Organizations devoted to Peace and Justice and find common ground, no exclusions. VFP is the best kept secret in the world, instead we should be the Umbrella all organizations devoted to Peace and Justice are organized under. 

The current Board has introduced a couple of policies aimed to make this a safe space for all, and is currently rewriting existing policies and procedures to reflect its understanding of our changing society.

Peace, Is The Only Solution

Read Michael's Questionnaire


 

Dave Logsdon

These are powerful and challenging times we live in and I believe I can be someone to help Veterans For Peace meet that challenge! Otherwise, why would I want the job?

I was drafted in 1966 and immediately went to a Navy recruiter to join. My efforts to avoid combat didn’t work that well as I ended up on a destroyer off the coast of North Vietnam in the forward gun mount!

I got involved in VFP actively after 911 which more or less coincided with my retirement. I retired from 26 years of truck driving and the statement of purpose and logo aligned perfectly with my values.

It’s been a wild ride, literally sometimes, with road trips and actions around the country. The brothers and sisters I have met in VFP are the cream of the crop in this country. We have a lot of work to do, but we have a great team in St. Louis and a dedicated and talented Board of Directors and I want to continue my work on it.

I want to continue my new (self appointed) role as head Zoomer, to reach out to as many chapters as I can, be a listening post, and do my best to represent you!

Read Dave's Questionnaire


 

Danny Beever

I served in the British Army from 1993 to 2002 as an Electronics Technician on the Challenger II MBT (tanks). This included peacekeeping deployments to Bosnia (1997-98) and Kosovo (2001).  These deployments allowed me, for the first time, to interact with locals in another country who I found to be personable human beings despite all of my military training that had taught me to view these people as an enemy to be feared.  These experiences made a lasting impression on me, though I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time.  It took a few years of re-examining everything that I had thought to be true (plus a few other things) which eventually resulted in me joining Veterans For Peace UK in 2015.

During the past five years, I have been an active member of VFP UK at the regional and national level, as a member of VFP UK Southeast (London) and as an elected member of our Policy Group (three years running).  I have participated in and led actions against the Arms Fair in London and the UK’s heavy involvement in the worldwide arms trade. I have organized actions calling for the release of Julian Assange.  I have protested with my region many times outside the Ministry of Defence and Downing Street in support of our mission and goals as an organization.  I helped draft and implement our Code of Conduct in an effort to ensure that VFP is a safe space for all veterans.  I served as the National Events Coordinator for two years, which involved organizing our Annual Gatherings, Summer Camps, and other activities.  I have participated in and led our annual march to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in honor of all victims of war.  Over the past year I have served as the Chairperson of VFP UK, and helped keep our organization active throughout lockdown. 

As a result of the current pandemic, my wife and I are moving to the United States and will be settling in as the 2020 VFP US Convention is taking place.  I intend to be as active a member within VFP US as I have been in VFP UK, keeping in mind our effort to achieve peace and social justice.   I am a lifetime member of VFP US, and have attended several conventions.  I have a lot of experience to bring to the Board of Directors as a veteran and peace activist.  VFP US is facing some hard experiences that VFP UK has been able to handle differently, and I hope to bring another perspective to VFP US.  I am open to all discussions, and I am able to hear and listen to differing points of view. I am willing and able to listen to people’s needs.  And I am committed to ensuring VFP is a safe space for all Veterans who share in our vision.  

Read Danny's Questionnaire


 

Susan Schall

Susan Schnall has been active in peace and social justice movements for over fifty years.  She began as  an active duty Navy nurse  during the American conflict in Vietnam by  dropping anti war leaflets over military  installations  in the Bay Area and wearing her uniform in the October 1968 GI and Veterans March for Peace in San Francisco.  She has been active in the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Medical Aid for Indochina, GI coffeehouses and the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign.  She is President of the New York City VFP chapter which has won VFP Chapter of the Year Award. The NYC chapter works with other VFP chapters and both local and national organizations from Brooklyn for Peace, Raging Grannies,  Artist  Sanctum to  the Maine VFP chapter and the Full  Disclosure working group commemorating Memorial  Day by holding a zoom reading of Letters to the Wall with over 100 VFP participants across the country.  

For 31 years Susan was a senior administrator at a number of public hospitals in New York City, retiring from Bellevue Hospital Center in 2006 where she was  responsible for budget, staffing, quality analysis for several major hospital departments. For the past 24 years she has been an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at NYU’s School of Professional Studies.

Platform:

In his 1967 Riverside speech “Beyond Vietnam,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., identified “triplets,” three forces he considered impediments to peace and justice. “We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society,” he said. “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Dr. King argued that unless we overcome these three obstacles, our country cannot become the kind of country which would not fight wars like those waged against Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan-to name a few.  Veterans  For Peace  carries the  power and authority of those who have been to war  and today struggle for peace and social justice  at home.   We must support and join  the continuing battles against racism and repression by working with organizations and groups raising those issues  including Black Lives Matter,  struggles of Native Peoples for the sovereignty of their land, embracing new immigrants, recognizing  the hundreds of years of the  US government’s repression of people of color  and women.  We must work with, support and respect local VFP chapters and their projects.  We need a board composed of individuals who have a track record on peace and social justice issues and local organizing, who  have honesty  and integrity, to tell truth to power as well as to each other.  For, if we truly strive for a just world, we must provide that just example within our organization.  Board responsibilities should include fundraising not just from our members, but also external potential donors, helping to raise awareness of VFP to civil society and assist us in recruiting new  members. I  bring many  years of organizing history, administrative talent, and reputation for fairness, leadership, and integrity to the VFP national board.

Read Susan's Questionnaire


 

Ken Mayers

Ken Mayers was commissioned in the US Marine Corps in 1958, expecting to be a career officer.  Eight and a half years later he resigned his commission and returned to UC Berkeley to try to figure out how the country had gone so far off the rails.  Although he has had subsequent careers in academia and business, the continuing thread of activity has been working for peace and justice in a variety of organizational settings.  In 1985, Ken was recruited into Veterans For Peace by then President John Barr, another former career Marine Corps Officer.   After moving to New Mexico, in 2002 Ken cofounded the Santa Fe Chapter of VFP which has become widely recognized in the Santa Fe community as a leader in peace activities.  He served on the VFP Board of Directors from 2005 through 2009, and as national treasurer for 5 of those years.  He has participated in VFP delegations to Vietnam, Jeju Island (Korea), Okinawa, Palestine, Ferguson, Standing Rock, and Ireland.

Ken Mayers Candidate Statement:

“They're on our left, on our right, in front of us, and behind us ... They can't get away this time."  Chesty Puller, Chosin Reservoir, December 1950. 

In 2020, VFP is surrounded by challenges: racism, militarism, imperialist attitudes and policies, unbridled capitalism,  … the list goes on.  In other words, wherever we turn, we have opportunities to make a constructive difference in the new world unfolding before us by recognizing the intersection of all these threats with the elements of our statement of purpose.  The criticality of these opportunities varies from location to location; thus, the ones that can be most effectively addressed will be different from chapter to chapter, as will the most effective means of addressing them.  Our heritage as a member-and-chapter driven organization – as distinct from a top-down, centrally directed one – is a great advantage and one that can best be served by a board which takes as its major function providing the supporting resources that the chapters need in manifesting a broad, intersectional understanding of the VFP mission in their respective areas of operation.

To provide these supporting resources, board members must devote a major portion of their time, thought, and energy to raising funds well beyond what can be raised by dues alone.  Frankly, in my 35 years as a member, we have never had a board which faced this responsibility with the seriousness that the challenge requires.  As a member of the Board, I would work hard to correct this shortcoming.

To amplify the effectiveness of VFP in striving for “Peace Abroad, Peace At Home” it is essential that we act in alliances at the local, regional, and national levels.  The board should support chapters with alliance building aids, and every board member should be a de facto (if not de jure) liaison to at least one organization whose goals and principles align with those of VFP.  By showing up, listening, and offering appropriate support, we can not only further the shared goals but may also increase the visibility and, potentially even the size, diversity, and viability of VFP.

Read Ken's Questionnaire 


 

Bruce West, Jr. 

Recognizing that Veterans for Peace is an organization uniquely qualified and situated to make a significant contribution to the lives and welfare of veterans and the victims of war, it is my sincere desire to contribute however I may be able.

While on active duty in Vietnam I was assigned as the liaison between the Seabee battalion and a local Vietnamese village. Working closely with village elders we were actually able to "win the peace" in that small corner of the war, an account of which is described in Auspicious Journey.

As in Vietnam, my experiences as an officer in the Juvenile and Criminal Courts required the ability to incorporate disparate, often antagonistic individuals and organizations to address the urgent needs of public violence and victim safety, as well as the appropriate evolution in community consciousness to support lasting change.

Experience:

Education:

What do I bring to the Board?

For the past several months the question of what I hope to bring to the board has been on my mind. Like every other organization, Veterans for Peace faces critical existential challenges regarding vision, goals, and how we will conduct business in an uncertain future. Are we agile enough to retain our values while embracing new and different ways of doing business?

One thing is clear. The organization will not be the same. We often hear people say they want to "go back" to life the way it was. It doesn't work that way.

So, what do we keep and what do we take with us into the new realities of the post-pandemic world? What burdensome baggage do we let go of and leave behind? What new paradigms do we embrace in order to carry our mission forward into that new world, whatever it may be? 

I believe that my experience in successfully addressing the issues of Substance Abuse, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, provides a wide range of practical knowledge and proficiency in tackling difficult and daunting challenges.  

The willingness and ability to research the issues and needs of veterans has provided the capability to question assumptions that may, or may not, be accurate. Likewise, the will to author Auspicious Journey, a novel of the War in Viet Nam, has served to provide an emotional and spiritual context for the realities of wartime.  

This organization, Veterans for Peace, enjoys a special legitimacy with an international platform and the potential to be a powerful beacon in a world that seems to have lost its way.

We have a challenging and exciting future. I stand ready to put my shoulder to the wheel.

Read Bruce's Questionnaire


  

Paul Cox

Paul Cox joined the USMC in 1968 and served 18 months in Vietnam, returning from the war angry, upset, and shaken about what he had witnessed and participated in.  He helped start an underground anti-war newspaper—the only one ever on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  He has worked for justice and peace since, to end war, and heal its damage. Paul is a founder of VFP Chapter 69 in SF and is on the board of Chapter 160 in Vietnam.  He serves on the board of Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, a national project of VFP.  He is a founder of American Legion Robert Basker Post 315, and recently completed 5 years as Chair of the War Memorial Commission in SF.   A board member of Swords to Plowshares Veterans Rights Organizations since 2005, and chair from 2009 to 2012.

Paul Cox Candidate Statement:

VFP's first priority at this time remains waging peace—continuing support for critical issues raised by Black Lives Matter; the struggles of Native Peoples; and ending repression of people of color, immigrant populations, and women.  Recognizing 500 years of vicious European history in the New World and species-long dominance of patriarchy is a start.  We must listen and learn to help the US climb out of its centuries-long dysfunction to become humane and centered on the health of Mother Earth.  We must get into the streets, communities, and halls of government to use our experience and status as veterans of US imperial wars to assist those struggles.

The VFP board structure is dictated by US non-profit law—not an ideal structure for VFP.  The center of gravity in VFP is the chapters and members.  The board has a supportive, not controlling, not dictating, role.

VFP has severe financial issues to address.  All board members should work continuously and seriously on fundraising.  It is the most effective effort the board can take to assure the health and effectiveness of VFP.  In this new era of lockdowns and online communication, our budget requires adjustments to account for additional costs in some areas and savings in others.  We must pay staff well enough to support and retain them. 

VFP membership has been stagnant for a while, with people joining and leaving at similar rates.  Why join? Why leave?  Chapters are best equipped to answer those questions through personal contacts, though the board can provide analytic tools to assist.  These questions, however, must be addressed.

VFP is a small organization, but has a powerful position as one of only two national veterans' organizations speaking loudly and consistently for peace and justice for ALL.  Many of us work in and with other organizations, carrying our witness in our practice. Organizational and project coalitions greatly magnify our voices; the board must support them.

Finally, the Board must remain fully committed to our Statement of Purpose.  Individuals and chapters will focus more on some issues and less on others, but the Board should ensure all efforts are supported.

Read Paul's Questionnaire


 

Bill Homans

Born April 25, 1949, in Boston, MA. Son of William P. Homans Jr., who fought the Nazis in two navies, first in convoy escort with the British, starting in June 1941, before the United States joined the fight. He then fought with the US Navy at the Anzio Beachhead. He is celebrated in England as the youngest member of the Royal Naval American Reserve. I am my father's son when it comes to fighting Nazis and other fascists, and bear proudly the scar I got at Miami in 1972 when we bounced the Nazis.

Enlisted in the Army and volunteered for Vietnam, where I was over-sprayed while on patrol. I was discharged in 1970 after 16 months of service for naively outing myself to my company CO. My discharge was honorable, unusual for a gay soldier in those times. I am a widower; my second wife died last year. My daughter is 28 and married.

Joined VVAW in 1971, on Bunker Hill. Became a full-time VVAW, elected Massachusetts State Coordinator and served in that role until 1974 when I resigned due to the influx of the Revolutionary Union, or RU. Currently serve as an elected co-coordinator for VVAW/Old School Sappers, the REAL VVAW after the rump Chicago Office (VVAW Inc.) split from us.

In Nam I was primarily an R.T. forklift operator, and in my civilian life primarily made my living driving forklifts and trucks, and various grunt labor. Retired to become a full-time musician in 2004. Received a B.A. in History and Journalism at U of Oregon (1986), and an M.A. in History (2000).

I was encouraged to become a candidate for the VFP Board by my long-long-time VVAW brother, and VFP Board member Willie Hager. I’m concerned about strife between the Board and some VFP members, and hope to mediate between both sides. We have opportunities to make a difference, which the recently reported “Wall of Vets” should demonstrate to all.

I have never campaigned to be an officer of antiwar veterans' organizations (or even Captain of my bowling team). I’m politically savvy, but have no political ambitions. A professionally trained writer, if elected to the VFP board, I would be eager to write and/or edit position papers and other important textual material on behalf of the organization.

Read Bill's Questionnaire


 

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