Veterans for PeacePRESENT: Dud Hendrick, Seth Bernier, Bob Healy, Jack Bussell, Kristina Wolff, Tom Whitney, Tom Sturtevant, Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Dan Avener, Clarence Smith, Michael Uhl, Dan Ellis, Doug Rawlings, Bruce Gagnon, Mary Beth Sullivan, Victor Skarapa, Bob Dale, Bob Lezer, Peggy Akers, Suzanne Hedricks, Tim Blanchette, Rob Pfeiffer, Stan Lofchie, and Lukie Lofchie
William Ladd Chapter 001
Minutes and Observations from Retreat
January 24, 2009
At 8:30am, Dud began the day with a brief welcome and an invitation for us to share an anecdote or two about our military service or our peace activism. We were done at 10:15am. The remarks were both somber and humorous, ".important to the teller and to the listener" (Dud). Dud closed this part of the session by thanking all of us for being a part of VFP.
At 10:25am, Bruce facilitated a discussion about the changing political landscape under the Obama administration. He began by outlining his concerns about the new National Security Advisor, General James Jones. If we're concerned about an expanding military empire, he's the "guy to watch." He's closely aligned with Robert Gates and is very interested in the US establishing a stronger foothold in Africa. Suzanne suggested that Obama need not always be willing to compromise with the militarists, that he should listen to groups like VFP. Smitty pointed out that Obama's team is IT savvy and therefore susceptible to messages from us. Michael advised us to look out for the first national security statement from the Obama administration. It will provide us with a roadmap into this administration's worldview. Stan brought us back to General Jones - he aspires to be the next Kissinger - and reminded us that Obama is no "leftie." Seth compared Obama's Charisma to that of JFK's - people mistook his youthfulness for liberalism, too but he led us into Vietnam. Seth advised us to "connect the dots" and reach out as a group to other groups who are equally skeptical. Bob Lezer reminded us that we should be a group for peace. Dud thought that Obama will be more inclusive than Bush, but we still can't accept the war in Afghanistan; Dud hoped that the air wasn't out of the peace movement and reminded us that we as VFP must keep the pressure on Snowe and Collins to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Victor mentioned that the corporations control our government and that the only way to break free of that control is to hold instant run-off elections. Rob Pfeiffer stated that right now there are 35,000 veterans in this country who have been severely injured in Iraq and there are untold thousands who are suffering from PTSD.
Jack thanked the Chapter 003 members for getting the word out about removing the National Guard from Iraq and Afghanistan. Tom Sturtevant mentioned that he has been trying to get legislators in Maine to support a bill withdrawing all National Guard troops from Iraq. Tom Whitney reminded us that we need to look for root causes and then act from that knowledge. We should connect the dots, as Seth says, and work with groups around certain issues. For Tom, a major issue is health care and the need for a single-payer system. Dan Avener thinks that campaign finance reform is at the heart of many of our political woes - we need to be realistic and stay focused on politicians and their connections to he corporations. Bob Healy quoted Phillip Berrigan ("War is a failure of the imagination") and reminded us that we're all dependent on this country and how its government distributes our resources; we need to re-think that mode of distribution so that we can all have a life that is peaceful. Suzanne thinks that the time is perfect for women in the US to voice their concerns and to support Michelle Obama as she begins her work in the White House.
Dud reminded us of the upcoming No Bases Campaign conference in Washington at the end of February and beginning of March. Dud, Michael, and Bruce will be involved. Michael thinks that Obama's centrist stand will give us some openings to begin a dialogue. He reassured us that the national board of VFP is working on elevating the public image of VFP as a credible player. Tim urges us to look at war from an ethical standpoint, to approach war as a moral issue as we make contact with the Obama administration. Stan suggested that we remain skeptical of the Obama administration: Obama has not contested the CIA torture stance; concerning Palestine, he sends Mitchell with the same rhetoric as the Bush administration uses; we must remain vigilant since there is no record that Obama is for peace and there's plenty that he's bought into the military/industrial/congressional model of war and aggression.
Bruce reminded us of the upcoming Town Hall Meeting, which is gaining support. There's good press coverage; they still need money to help cover the costs of the hall; it's a great opportunity for various groups to dialogue even if the politicians don't appear. Seth agreed with Bob Lezer - VFP should advocate for peace and work on bringing others along with us.
This session ended at 11:05am. Dud moved us on to the next agenda item. We broke into small groups of four or five to discuss the following topics:
*Fundraising — Michael framed the topic for us. How do we raise money outside of our existing sources?
*Chapter Initiatives — Probably the most eloquent speaker of the day rose to address the membership and frame this question. He-who-need-not-be-named expressed an interest in following three strands as we develop our strategies and policies for the coming year: education of the public about war and its consequences; political action to emphasize our stances on particular issues to the general public; and community service focusing on the victims of war (including but not limited to veterans and their families).
*Website, brochure, and list-serve — Dan Ellis reminded us that our publications (in print and on line) are our first line of communication with the public and our fellow veterans. So our first item of business here is to update the brochure. Secondly, we need to become more actively involved in the website. Dan is getting little feedback (in particular with the on-line monthly calendar). He does receive stats from our server company on the number of hits per day. He would like us to consider a system that allows others to participate in providing content to the web. Doug also mentioned that the list-serve is still being "monitored" by him as chapter secretary. Although he has received a few complaints about access to the list-serve, it seems to be going okay. Is that true?
*2010 Convention — Jack gave us some samples of how the t-shirts might look. He also requested that groups come up with some recommended speakers and entertainers. He also asked us to consider a theme for the convention. Reminder: the convention is the 25th anniversary of VFP, will take place August 18th to the 22nd at the Eastland Hotel in Portland. There is a role for all chapter members, so get ready.
After the small groups met and after lunch, we gathered as the group as a whole and reported out our suggestions and comments. Here they are without any editing (remember that this is a brainstorming session):
Tim submitted the January 2009 report. Our current balance is $6821.84 (January 22, 2009). We began month of December with a balance of $5182.75. During the next two months we expended $3775.45 (postage and supplies of $33.60; donation given to Sunny Corner Fuel Assistance of $200; Chewonki Retreat deposit of $200; a $2500 transfer of funds into the 2010 convention account; $64.20 for Maine Sales tax. $727.65 in MaineShare dues; and $50 paid out in petty cash). We also took in $5414.54 during the same time period (MaineShare gave us $4624.54; membership dues amounted to $360; donations amounted to $430).
The Legal Defense Fund is holding at $1730 (no activity) and the 2010 Convention account is now at $4500.
The question was raised if we need to keep a 2010 convention fund since our understanding is that the national will cover all convention expenses. Michael said that he'd check into this. Some of us felt that it's still a good idea just in case and we can use the money for initial expenses to be reimbursed later by the national. We concluded to leave the account as is unless an emergency need develops.
ROB PFEIFFER PRESENTATION AND REQUEST FOR FUNDING
Rob is requesting $1,000 from the chapter as seed money to get his personal counseling service for veterans with PTSD off the ground ($350 for printing of brochures; $150 for mailing and phoning costs; $500 for scholarships for needy veterans). He presented two prototypes for advertising his services: a brochure and a broadsheet. Right now he has lined up 26 volunteer practitioners who have had some success working with alternative health practices when dealing with PTSD clients. He would charge clients anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00 per visit.
Comments: Michael would support the $1,000 contribution if Rob agrees to provide a workshop at this year's symposium at no charge to the chapter Stan and Tom Whitney were concerned about the scientific validity of these alternative practices. Set offered some legal advice: in his opinion the way Rob has set up the proposal, our chapter would not be subjected to any legal obligations and future difficulties. Rob assured us that all practitioners would be covered under their own malpractice insurance. Kristina suggested that we go ahead but ask Rob not to use our VFP name. Tom Whitney wanted to know if Rob would be acting as a coordinator or a facilitator. He also expressed concern about the program's dependence on volunteer services. After awhile, Tom pointed out, volunteers stop volunteering. He suggests that a firmer, paid commitment should be sought.
Peggy remarked that she's be proud to be associated with Rob's program and that we should keep our VFP name closely associated with the venture. Rita concurred - she pointed put that this is a direct service to veterans and isn't that what we're all about? Doug suggested that if funded by us that Rob should be responsible for submitting quarterly reports on the project's progress.
Motion: Kristina moved (and Smitty seconded) that our chapter provide Rob Pfeiffer with $1,000 in seed money to support his "Veterans Helping Veterans" project contingent upon three requirements: that all material used to promote the project include our chapter's contact information (mailing address and website address); that Rob submit quarterly reports to our chapter president for discussion at chapter business meetings; and that Rob commit to presenting his work at our annual PTSD symposia in workshop format. Discussion: hitney remarked that Rob's quarterly reports not be too detailed. Seth's legal opinion is that if all participants are insured, we as a chapter should have no problem. A vote was called: 24 in favor and one not in favor. The motion passes and Tim Blanchette will cut Rob a check for $1,000.
BRUCE GAGNON'S ANNUAL CONVENTION IN SEOUL, KOREA:
Dud thinks that our chapter should help Tom Sturtevant (a Korean War veteran) to attend the conference. Bob Lezer moved (Stan second) that the chapter should provide Tom with $300 to help defray his costs. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.
PEGGY AKERS REFERRED TO A LETTER FROM GRANNY D. THANKING EVERYONE FOR THEIR SUPPORT.
PTSD SYMPOSIUM FEBRUARY 18TH IN PORTLAND
Dud suggested that we pay Michael Uhl's registration fee for attending the PTSD conference in Portland on the 8th. He would act as an "emissary" of sorts, promoting our June symposium and also gathering information/names for help in designing our own symposia. Stan moved to provide $200 in chapter funds to support Michael. Bruce seconded. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.
TOWN HALL MEETING
Peggy moved that we provide $50 in support of the upcoming town hall meeting in Portland. Bob Lezer's friendly amendment upped that to $100. Peggy moved that $100 be provided to Bruce Gagnon to support the Town Hall meeting. Kristina seconded the motion. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned, and the retreat ended, at 3:45pm.