Veterans for Peace
Tom Sturtevant Chapter 1
February 26, 2015
USM’s Abromson Center
Portland, Maine

Present: Clarence Smith, Richard & Rita Clement, Bruce Gagnon, Dan Ellis, Peter Woodruff, Bud Buzzell, Doug Rawlings, Gerry Kamke, Regis Tremblay, David Larsen, Tom Whitney, John Herrich, Dovey Balsam, Annie Hyde, Dave Crowley, Bob Funke, Russ Christensen, John Morris

Reading/Inspiration: Budd recently spent two days in hospital. Surgery later this month will be followed by rehab. Doug read a poem about nuclear energy.

Secretary Report: Minutes from last meeting accepted and are on the web site

Treasurer Report: We now have $7,042.29 in our bank account. Dovey handed out our projected 2015 budget which folks can review and discuss at next meeting if they have any questions. Dovey reported that the cost of our annual IRS filing preparation was more than expected.

Membership: Now have 140 members, 85 are currently paid-up with dues. Dan will send a letter to those not yet paid to find out if they wish to remain members of VFP.

MaineShare: Our annual report is done.

Hell’s Angels September 5-6: The Navy’s Blue Angels will once again headline the Brunswick air show on September 5-6. We need someone to take leadership in organizing our protest since Bruce will be gone the entire month of August. Two years ago we held a protest march from downtown Brunswick to the base on the Saturday and on the Sunday we bought tickets and entered the airshow with banner and flyers which we handed out. We anticipated being arrested but nothing happened so we paraded around the airshow and held the banner under the wing of a B-1 bomber.

Voices from Jeju: Our chapter is co-sponsoring the talk and film showing by two activists from Jeju Island (South Korea) who are doing a national tour to promote support for the long and inspiring campaign to stop the building of a Navy base in Gangjeong village. Recently the Navy has begun to take even more village land for military housing. The talk/film will be held on Friday, March 20 at 7:00 pm in Bath at the Grace Episcopal Church (1100 Washington St). Parking in back of church just off Edwards Street.

Spring Mobilization Against Wars: The national mobilization for peace has called for actions around the country on March 21. In Maine we will join the effort with a protest on Saturday, March 21 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm in front of the General Dynamics BIW shipyard in Bath. A bus from Portland is being organized by CodePink that will stop in Brunswick on the way to Bath. For details see more here or call 399-7623.

Next Peace Walk: Jason Rawn and Bruce have begun work on another peace walk through Maine next October. It is tentatively called Walk to Stop the Militarization of the Seas: Pentagon’s Impact on Oceans. The tentative dates for the walk will be October 7-24. The walk will begin in Ellsworth, Maine and end in Portsmouth, N.H. (assuming we find interest and support in that community), otherwise will end in Kittery, Maine. The route of the walk will be US 1 south the entire way. Overnight stops will likely be in Ellsworth, Bucksport, Belfast, Camden, Rockland, Bath, Brunswick, Freeport, Portland, Saco, Kennebunk, and Kittery. Next meeting will be held on May 23 at the Addams-Melman House (212 Centre St) in Bath at noon beginning with potluck lunch. All are invited. VFP will be a co-sponsor of this event.

2014 Chapter Action Summary: Richard went through meeting minutes from 2014 and wrote up a three-page summary of all we did last year. Quite impressive. You can find it on our web site here

Peace & Planet: The chapter endorsed the Mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World in New York City that will be going on during the UN’s NPT Review Conference. Will consist of conference on April 24-25, a protest march on April 26 and civil resistance actions on April 28. Find more details here

Donation to Chapter 3: The board was queried via email before this meeting and agreed that we should share $500 with VFP Chapter 3 in Bangor.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade South Boston: Bob Funk from Smedley Butler chapter in Boston urged us to come support their peace parade on March 15. Meet at D Street and West Broadway in South Boston at 11:00 am. Many from our chapter are planning to go.

Veteran Song: Doug requested we donate $1,000 toward the project called Veteran Song. Dovey was concerned about spending that much money so early in the year. Was agreed that we’d offer the money “if needed” and that hopefully it will serve as incentive to others to donate. First workshop for veterans and their families will be held on May 2 at the Telling Room (225 Commercial St) in Portland. These workshops will be free to veterans of any war and their families, and participants will get to work with professional writers and musicians, as well as each other.

The Lonely Soldier/Women at War in Iraq: A documentary play by award-winning journalist and playwright, Helen Benedict. The play features seven women, ranging in age from 19 to 47, who vividly tell the real life stories of military women who served in Iraq. Their stories focus on the challenges they faced from warfare, discrimination, to their own consciences. March 12- 29 in Augusta, Portland and Bangor. Get details here

VAST Program: Vets Adaptive Sports Training for disabled vets looking for volunteers at Pineland Farms.

Full Disclosure: We are calling on concerned citizens who have been seared by the Vietnam war to each send a letter addressing the Vietnam War Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, DC directly. We are asking you to share your memories of this war and its impact on your loved ones while expressing your concerns over future wars. Direct your words to those who died in the American War on Vietnam. At noon on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, we will place these letters at the foot of the Wall in Washington, DC as a form of remembrance. If you wish to submit a letter that will be delivered to the Wall on Memorial Day, please send it to (with the subject line: Memorial Day 2015) or by snail mail to Attn: Full Disclosure, Veterans For Peace, 409 Ferguson Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27516 by May 1, 2015.

Ukraine: Growing concern as Obama and Congress move toward arming the US-NATO installed regime in Kiev in their war against Russian speaking Ukrainian citizens in the eastern part of the country who live along the Russian border. This US-NATO directed war is a provocation against Russia and risks turning into a nuclear exchange. You can learn more and sign a petition to the Senate opposing US weapons to Ukraine here

Books on Capitalism’s Impact on Planet: Russ has purchased 200 books on how capitalism is impacting the planet. He wants to send them to the pope and to various college and university departments across the nation. He requested that the chapter serve as his fiscal agent as he raises funds for postage. We agreed to do that. Tom suggested the books would have greater impact if sent to high schools and public libraries across Maine. Many others agreed. Doug and Tom will work with Russ to come up with a distribution plan.

National VFP & AID Fiscal Sponsorship for Project RENEW:We had a lively and informative discussion about the current controversy at the national VFP level. National has been asked by Project RENEW in Vietnam to serve as fiscal agent for a possible $2.3 million grant from USAID to do Agent Orange and land mines remediation. Bruce read a letter he wrote to the VFP national board before their second vote on this issue outlining his opposition to the proposal saying that AID historically funds operations to destabilize governments that Washington wants to control. (In the first vote the board said no, but in a second one they voted 8-4 in favor. Because the issue has caused so much controversy within the membership it might be brought to next national convention or a membership snail mail vote might be taken.) Doug spoke in favor of the proposal saying that anything to help reverse the evil affects of the war should be supported. Various members spoke up on either side of the issue. Some VFP members have resigned over this (including Brian Willson) and a couple Advisory Board members (Margaret Flowers and Chris Hedges) have sent letters opposing the plan. Some other members of Advisory Board support the plan.

Next Meeting: Will meet on March 26 in Brunswick at Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Middle Street.