Veterans for Peace, Chapter 101 welcomes all veterans, regardless of length, time and place of service. Participate in events in which you feel comfortable, or simply support veterans’ peace causes in any way you see fit. Join your voice with ours, or be your own voice, but do not remain silent. VFP Chapter 101 meets on the third Wednesday at SJ Peace & Justice Center.
Veterans for Peace is an organization of conscience. We served in the armed forces of the United States, some willingly. We cannot, however, write off this experience as a closed chapter in our lives, to be put at the back corner of the closet shelf.
None of us was untouched by the experience of military service. We depended on others, and they depended on us. When we could not keep them from harm, we grieved. We share a collective responsibility for suffering, death and destruction done in the name of our country.
As an organization, we believe that war should be undertaken as an instrument of national policy only as a last resort, when all other means of settling differences have been tried and have failed; only in the true defense of our country, and only when the reasons for war have been clearly and honestly laid before the American people.
We take no pleasure in telling our country “We told you this would happen,” when we spoke out and marched before the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans for Peace was formed in 1985 by a few visionaries who saw American involvement in Central and South America, and in the Middle East, as evidence of the warnings given by President Dwight D. Eisenhower about the pervasive and insidious influence of the “militaryindustrial complex.” We know that there are those of us in America who make a business of war and who gain great profit from the planning and exercise of war, and who influence policy decisions. We are recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization.
Our hearts go out to the decent, trusting young men and women who are in our armed forces today. We urge our representatives and senators to preserve our system of medical care, education and compensation benefits. We do not tolerate the hypocrisy of those who purport to “love the troops,” while voting to curtail funding for the treatment needed for their bodies and minds after the combat experience. We believe that the best support is to bring them home, the sooner the better, and to take care of them once they are home.
The local chapter was founded in 2001. We have about 30 members on an immediate notification list and at least 30 others less active but still interested in our mission. We meet every third Wednesday at the Peace Center on Seventh Street in San Jose. Although some of us have participated in aid missions, including Katrina relief, our chief mission is increasing awareness of the cost and consequences of war, and of who is bearing the burden, and who pushes that burden off on “other people’s children.”
We maintain a presence at cultural events, films and events where we think that a presence of veterans who question this war might be appreciated. This includes film debuts, art festivals, and the annual Holiday Peace Fair in San Jose. We have participated, in 2004 and 2005, in local Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day events, marching and making statements consistent with our views on the current war and on war in general.
We have presented alternatives to military service to students who are actively being recruited by military recruiters. We take no issue with adults who make an adult decision to serve, but we do not condone the glorification and promotion of war to young people the age of our children and grandchildren.
We actively support the efforts of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, such as Iraq Veterans Against the War, who question our nation’s motives and involvement. We offer support, and, when possible, a forum for their voices.
Veterans for Peace Chapter 101 welcomes all veterans,regardless of length, time and place of service. Participate in events in which you feel comfortable, or simply support veterans’ peace causes in any way you see fit. Join your voice with ours, or be your own voice, but do not remain silent.
By Doug Nelson
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