Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 1
Minutes from Business Meeting
December 15, 2011
Pat’s Pizza, Augusta

Attending: Clarence Smith, Dan Ellis, Arthur Whitman, Peggy Akers, Richard & Rita Clement, Bob Lezer, Kristina Wolff, Suzanne Hedrick, Dave Crowley, Ed McCarthy, Peter Woodruff, Diane Messer, Dud Hendrick, Tom Sturtevant, Doug Rawlings, Bruce Gagnon

Free Dinner: The first order of business was to unanimously agree to Peggy’s motion that the chapter pay for everyone’s dinner at Pat’s Pizza.

Inspiration: The evening inspiration was having Arthur Whitman with us again.

Secretary & Membership Report: Decision on approval of past month’s meeting minutes was postponed due to not having yet been posted on web site. Dan’s computer has been down and thus he was also not able to give a full membership report.

Treasurer Report: Kristina warned that we should be cautious with our expenditures as we have agreed to organize another PTSD conference next year which will be costly. A $100 donation was received from the Hebron Academy.

Nominating Committee: We need a new Treasurer to replace Kristina who would like to cycle out of the post. Also need new members on the board. Board and officers need to approve the annual budget we submit to Maine Share in January – there are not many other direct responsibilities for board members.

Meeting Publicity: Tom suggested that if we publicized each monthly meeting in the local paper we might get some new members. Bruce suggested we ask who ever makes reservations for each meeting location also take responsibility to get an announcement posted in the local paper. Tom will draft something we can all use.

Occupy: “The tents might be gone but the genie is out of the bottle.” Dianne reported that Augusta Occupy has been disbanded but a General Assembly will be held on Dec 17 at the park. They intend to do alot of direct action and foreclosure support is a likely next step. Doug reported that national VFP is working on a bus tour of veterans to visit Occupy locations around the country to do training and give support. Peggy reported that Portland Occupy got eviction notices today from the city. A lawsuit is pending which will buy some time for the camp. They have an office at the Meg Perry Center. People are a bit discouraged. Ed said he was unconvinced about the value of Occupy. Several responded saying they thought it had given a sense of direction to the overall movement and helped increase awareness about growing income divide and corporate domination of our political system.

Phone Tree: Doug volunteered to set up an action phone tree. If you got a call you would call 2-3 others, make a support call to police/city, etc, and/or show up at the action. A sign-up sheet was passed around for the phone tree and anyone else who wishes to be included should contact Doug.

Mexico Trip: Dud reported on his recent trip to Mexico to meet the Raramuri people in the Sierra Madre where a film made by his brother about these people was presented. Dud wants to present the film to Peace & Justice groups around the state. Highly relevant to our concerns as the people fight to maintain their way of life in the midst of growing militarization in their region because of the “war on drugs”. This region is called the murder capital of the world.

Bring Our War $$ Home: Bruce reported that the recent meeting of the campaign drew good attendance and much discussion was around connecting to Occupy movement. Was decided to pursue the idea of holding another rally inside the Hall of Flags during the legislative session and then remaining to “occupy” the hall. The idea is to connect the social spending cuts, tax cuts for the rich in Maine, and war spending. None of the groups now holding events in Augusta are making these deadly connections. Bruce underscored the fact that most of the organizations holding rallies in Augusta are connected to the Democrats and some Dems in the state legislature voted along with the Republicans last session in favor of more tax cuts for the rich. These same Democrats now complain about LePage cutting back on health care. We need to build an independent movement in Maine that challenges both political parties. The next meeting will be Jan 14 in Augusta.

PTSD: Doug said we are already behind in our normal timeline for having a conference in April-May and that we might have run the course on holding it at USM in Portland. He suggested we could explore connecting the next PTSD confab to the three recent veteran shootings in rural communities in Maine where they shot at police and then were themselves shot. Might focus on what communities can do to deal with these situations. Dan heard from Michael Mead (The Homecoming) that he is interested in coming to Maine. We need to know what he charges but Mead wants to know what we want from him. It was agreed we should ask Mead – If we gave you a full day what would you do with it? Kristina suggested we form a committee:

• Dan (Chair)
• Diane
• Ed
• Doug (will help)
• Dud (will help)

Bruce suggested The Homecoming video be shown in these three communities ASAP in order to help make an entry and to establish more connections with local vets.

Annual Retreat: Smitty reported that we can use Point Lookout in Lincolnville for the same price as in the past. Feb 3-4 is available. Everyone agreed we should go for it but also see if Feb 10-11 is available as well. Bruce suggested we consider hiring a professional facilitator he knows to work us through two questions: How do we get new members and what do we do next as a chapter? It was agreed Bruce could secure the facilitator and spend a couple hundred bucks if needed. A conference committee was formed:

• Peggy (Chair)
• Bruce
• Peter
• Dave
• Bob

Homeless Vets Project: Smitty has spoken with Maine Housing Authority and wanted our agreement for him to approach Sen. Collins again for her support on this project. The HUD/VA application for funding is complex and he feels that getting Sen. Collins support would be helpful. Bruce suggested we wait to do anything until the chapter had more time to discuss this at the retreat. Doug and Dud responded that we should let Smitty go forward and a vote was taken with all agreeing to have Smitty continue to explore the project, except Bruce who voted no.

Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act: Dud and Robert Shetterly met with Rep. Michaud about HR 2634 (The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act). The bill would “direct the Secretary of State to provide assistance for certain individuals affected by exposure to Agent Orange and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enhance the availability of medical care for descendants of veterans of the Vietnam era, and for other purposes.” Michaud said he would only support the bill if it did not take funding from existing VA funds. Dud would like to have a meeting with Rep. Pingree as well and needs some folks who live in her district to be involved. Smitty reported on a Habitat for Humanity project being organized for Vietnam and the cost would be $1,700 plus airfare. He also said an acupuncturist in Freeport wants to give veterans treatment for free.

Other Business: Richard Stander (Stockton Springs) has a neurological condition and is quickly deteriorating. Dud requested the chapter make a $200 contribution for his expenses. Was unanimously approved.

Everyone was urged to contact MPBN and request that they show the film “This is where we take our stand”.

There will be no meeting in January. Next meeting will be the retreat in February. More details will be forthcoming.

Santa Visit: Near the end of the meeting a full dressed and robust Santa came into the meeting carrying a bag of gifts and cookies. Santa (Peggy) gave each of us a Tibetan prayer flag and thanked the chapter for our support while she was suffering from cancer last year. Three cheers for Peggy!!!