Veterans for Peace
Tom Sturtevant Chapter 1
December 17, 2015
Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick
Brunswick, Maine

PRESENT: Bob Lezer, Rita Clement, Bill Laidley, Gerry Kamke, Robin Spencer, Peter Morgan, Peter Woodruff, Regis Tremblay, Richard Clement, Dan Ellis, Bud Buzzell, Clarence Smith, Martha Morrison, and Doug Rawlings

* Our first order of business was a deeply sad one. We passed around a card to be sent to Tim Blanchette’s widow, Dottie. Tim died on the 15th. We did take a moment to remember Tim:
> Richard remarked on how upbeat Time always was
> Smitty, who saw a great deal of Tim in his last days at the Maine Veterans Home, spoke of Tim’s indomitable spirit. He said that Tim wanted to have VFP listed on his grave marker because we meant so much to him. As the hospice worker extraordinaire, who has seen many dying patients in his work, Smitty remarked on how Tim never complained. He told us that Tim’s memorial service will be held in January and that we ought to wait to send flowers until then. He also informed us that Peggy has maintained contact with Dottie and that we should all still write up prayer flags in remembrance of Tim.
> Regis recalled seeing Tim most recently in Portland at Monument Square holding up a “Don’t Bomb Syria” sign. Regis was amazed at Tim’s energy — he would never stop; at the Fourth of July parade in Hallowell he “was a trooper” even though he finally needed some help with his wheelchair (most of us remember Tim from earlier times when he would load up his chair and do everything independently — a true inspiration.
> Doug remembered that when Dud and Bruce and others, including Tim, entered into the Brunswick naval base to protest the Blue Angels, that Tim snuck the big banner through under his wheelchair.
> Robin remarked that, as someone familiar with MS, she was impressed by Tim’s quality of life.
“Tim Blanchette PRESENTE!” “Tim Blancehette PRESENTE!” “Time Blanchette PRESENTE!”

* The Secretary’s report from the November meeting was accepted as written.

* The Treasurer’s report was presented by our new treasurer with assistance from Robin. We have a balance of $5,116.94.

* Richard reported that MaineShare was very pleased with the donation we provided after our fundraising event.

* Dan, putting on his membership guru hat, reported that there was no change in our membership profile — we have 132 members of which 87 are veterans, 23 are associates, 11 are donors, 10 are honorary, and 1 is a lifetime member. Dan will send out December renewal notices on December 17th.

* For our Media report, Regis shared with us his latest profile in his “Warriors For Peace” series.  Peter Hind is a 92 year old Catholic priest (Carmelite Order) whom Regis knew as his teacher in the distant past. Peter was a WWII fighter pilot in the Pacific theater, flying over Nagasaki two days after the bomb leveled the city. Peter recognized that he was a mere “cog in the war machine.” He did as he was told for awhile but was eventually courtmartialed for insubordinate behavior. After leaving the Air Force, he became a priest and worked closely with Stokley Carmichael and SNCC, as well as working with campesinos in the Andes Mountains. Part of his mission is to bring back to us, in the USA, word of how people suffer under our imperialist foreign policy. He currently works in Juarez, Mexico to help those workers in the  sweat shops on the border of Mexico and the US.  Peter is a member of VFP. Regis’s film of his life can be found on our website.

* Doug reported that Fred Brancato’ of the USM Elders Group will be leading a contingent of peace activists to Senator Angus King’s office. Along with representatives of the Elders Group and the Moms Against Gun Violence group, five VFP members will be accompanying Fred — Richard, Peter Morgan, Gerry, Doug, and Bud. We will meet at King’s Augusta office on January 7th at 11:00am. We will discuss the eight point recommendations for gun safety legislation drawn up by the Elders Group.

* Dan filled us in on the rather complicated process of switching credit unions from Robin’s credit union to his in Brunswick. He thought we might have to contact our lawyer, John Branson, for legal information about our chapter. We have decided to open a business account rather than a personal account. Dan, as our treasurer, would be the lead signor on the account with Richard and Doug acting as alternate signers. Bill Laidley, who has had experience with this type of situation, asked some good questions and offered some advice. Presently, Dan has opened the account as a personal one but wants to switch it to a business account  as soon as possible. Our first order of business is to get approval of the switch to the Brunswick Credit Union from our chapter’s Board of Directors. Dan will use Quicken to keep the account and will have checks made up as soon as possible. He will also acquire a debit card from the Credit
Union. Since all members of the Board of Directors were present at the meeting, we passed a resolution this evening to approve the switch and to leave the maintenance of the account up to the discretion of Dan Ellis, chapter treasurer.

* Richard reminded the chapter that your humble servant writing these minutes is only serving in an interim capacity and that we are currently seeking a more permanent secretary. Any takers?

* Richard shared with us a recent mailing from Chapter 003’s Dan Avener concerning “Waging Peace/Maine,” a group that has brought Paul Chappell to Maine (Paul is a member of VFP’s national Advisory Board. The group is working on a full-length documentary and is seeking financial donations. We decided to table the consideration until we could do further research into the matter.

* Richard mentioned that he has been contacted by Maureen Topa, who hosts a show entitled “Animal Sounds” on the Portland radio station WMPG. She wants to explore the topic of violence via an on-air discussion. She would love to have our veterans’ perspective on the show.  The show would be aired in January, so Richard asked if any Portland residents might be interested in going on to represent VFP. Bud volunteered and agreed to contact Peggy Akers also. Regis has been on her show before and praised it.

* Richard announced that Bud’s three year term on the chapter’s Board of Directors is ending at the first of the year. Gerry Kamke volunteered to replace him and, after a lengthy discussion of about three seconds, we unanimously voted Gerry on board, so to speak. Thank you Bud for your service and thank you Gerry for stepping up to the plate.

* Martha asked about an on-line Peace Studies course that she had heard about that may have come from USM. No one knew about it. Any help out there?

* Bill had the following letter published in the Portland Press Herald. He reported that he received some very good feedback.
Dear Editors, If the PPH is going to give unwarranted publicity to the Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer at least balance it by making a few comparisons to what 4.5 billion might have done for the Nation, and/or the State. Where to start? Money to spend on drug addiction programs? Highways, and bridges? Health care? Education, at all levels? Space exploration-no, they have their own billions to spend. You get the point. Will it protect us? Maybe. Any weapon system can be defeated. There are too many examples to list. One system leap frogs the next. A motor boat to almost destroy the USS Cole? Who could have imagined? Apparently, not the Navy. I hope someone takes a page from SAC Gen.Curtis Lemay’s playbook, poking at the soft underbelly of the Zumwalt’s systems to find possible weaknesses. That’s a lot to spend on a ‘maybe’ for protection.
William R. Laidley
* Smitty reported on the recent conference on ALS at Togus that he attended both as a member of VFP and also as a hospice volunteer. He said they did an excellent job. He stayed for the general morning session but skipped the afternoon clinical discussions. He was impressed by the integration of social workers, psychiatrists, and other health professionals at Togus as they grapple with this disease that attacks the central nervous system. The life span of those afflicted by it has been extended from 2 to 3 years to 3 to 5 years. The personnel at Togus are most concerned because ALS is much more prevalent in veterans than the general population.  The ultimate goal at Togus is to extend the life span of veterans with ALS even further.
* Richard reported out on recent chapter activities that include Tom Whitney’s participation in the recent SOA Watch; Peggy’s participation in Portland’s activities to welcome refugees; Richard and Rita’s participation and leadership at the Winthrop Church Peace Festival including the bridge action with VFP’s banner flying high; Dud and Bruce’s actions in South Korea and Okinawa(see Bruce’s blog for more information); and Doug’s poetry workshops at Togus’s Psychiatric Ward.
* Dan noted that Kristina Wolff sent a note about her work in New Hampshire. She misses us….
* Dan and Richard reminded us that we owe Bruce $95.95 for our sound system deep cycle battery. Robin wrote out a check for that amount.
* Dan announced that we can now rent the Brunswick UU Church room for $20 for our meetings.


* The meeting adjourned at 8:41pm.


Doug Rawlings
Veterans For Peace