Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 001
Minutes from Business Meeting
held as part of January 2008 Retreat at
Chewonki Institute, Wiscasset, Maine

PRESENT: Tom Whitney, Victor Skorapa, Kristina Wolff (vice-president), Dan Ellis (Membership Guru and Web Servant), Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Stan Lofchie, Bill Rixon, Bruce Gagnon, Tim Blanchette (Treasurer), Robin Spencer, Bob Lezer (President), Arthur Whitman, Marianne Whitman, Clarence Smith (archivist), Jack Bussell, Tom Sturtevant, Suzanne Hedrick, Tom Whitney, Peggy Akers, Dud Hendrick, and Doug Rawlings (Secretary)

After a delightful evening of good food, good entertainment, and a hearty night in the yurts for some of us at the Chewonki Institute, the members of VFP William Ladd Chapter gathered for a business meeting on Saturday, January 26th. Note: once again, the Chewonki staff are to be thanked for their hospitality, including breakfast and lunch on Saturday.

President Bob Lezer began the session with an hour and a half “introduction”: each member around the table introduced herself or himself and then provided some personal history – why he or she joined VFP, etc etc. It was great fun and an excellent opportunity to learn more about our brothers and sisters in the chapter.

The Business Meeting began at 11:10am.

  • Last month’s Secretary’s Report was accepted (Bussell motion; Whitman second).
  • Treasurer’s Report: Tim Blanchette gave us the January numbers:

    • We received a check from MaineShare for $4,628
    • We received a check from RESIST for $350 (RESIST provided all recent grantees with a “bonus” check; we had received a grant from them for our Calendar Project)
    • We received $200 in membership dues.
    • We paid out $698.09 to MaineShare as part of our sponsorship.
    • Available funds as of January 26th: $11,800.
    • Treasurer’s Report was accepted (Whitman motion; Smith second).
  • Membership Report: Dan Ellis reported that he thought membership reminders by e-mail were not effective. As of January 26th, there were 118 members who were paid up for the year (93 veteran memberships and 25 associate memberships). Of our membership base, there were 50 who had not yet renewed for the year. Dan sent out 63 reminders in November alone (with 36 renewals as a result). Following monthly renewals were not as successful. Dan will continue to send out snail mail and e-mail reminders.

    • Bruce Gagnon pointed out that non-profit research has shown that the best months to ask for donations and membership renewals are January and February when people are more likely to give. The next best month is September.
    • It was suggested that members willing to call for renewals do so, and quite a few people around the table agreed to make those calls.
    • Tim reported that so far we have raised $1640 in membership dues for 2007, which is lower than we usually get (about $2200). We did receive $646 in donations during 2007.
  • President Bob Lezer announced his decision to resign as president, effective February 1st, 2008. Bob’s decision was greatly influenced by his doctor’s advice. He will remain active in the chapter. Bob received a resounding round of applause for his great work as our president, with special emphasis on his Herculean efforts in putting together our 2007 PTSD Symposium. We all acknowledged that Bob’s efforts have advanced the interests and standing of our chapter immensely.
  • The VFP William Ladd Chapter Nominating Committee (Art Whitman, Tom Sturtevant, and Stan Lofchie) presented a slate of officers for the members to consider:

    • President: Dud Hendrick
    • Vice-President: Kristina Wolff
    • Secretary: Doug Rawlings
    • Treasurer: Tim Blanchette

The floor was then opened for discussion. No more nominations were forthcoming. President-elect Dud Hendrick thanked the assembly for their confidence in him and then offered some reservations: since he lives in Deer Isle, the trips to various business meetings can be onerous, so, on occasion, he would have to turn our meetings over to our very capable vice-president-elect. He definitely sees August as a month when that would occur. No one saw that as a problem. He also suggested that we hold every fifth meeting in Belfast. Dud acknowledged the magnitude of the job he has been nominated for and urged us to spread out the responsibilities of all positions to more members. He would like to see an organizational chart designed and implemented that would share our commitments and take advantage of the skills our members possess. He also suggested that we should consider limiting officers’ terms to two or three years each and begin to look for successors at every two years. We should also stagger terms to allow for more continuity.

Peggy suggested that we seriously consider car-pooling to various meetings. Tim suggested exploring videoconferencing to increase participation in meetings. Kristina suggested that we take the opportunity to use the Belfast meetings as joint meetings with the Bangor Chapter. Dud agreed to contact them to see if that would be possible. He also suggested that we use our next meeting to establish terms and site locations for this year’s business meetings.

Vice-president-elect Kristina Wolff remarked that she would be thrilled to continue what she’s doing as the vice-president. Her research is important to her (and will be important to the chapter as well). She and a colleague are exploring the nature of Junior ROTC around the country and have tentatively concluded that ROTC programs have a negative impact on college-going rates among high school students. Stan suggested that Dr. Wolff present her findings at a VFP National Convention.

Secretary-elect Doug Rawlings said that he’d be glad to serve another term.

Treasurer-elect Tim Blanchette accepted his nomination and suggested that officers’ terms be held to 2 or 3 years, max.

Discussion of the nominees and the nomination process was then concluded. The nominating committee had invested in standing president Bob Lezer the power to cast a single vote for the slate of nominees. He did in the affirmative. His vote was applauded by all around the table. The new officers will take office beginning February 1, 2008.

  • Bob Lezer announced that we have an Eric Hoerter-produced DVD of the 2007 PTSD Symposium and asked how many copies we’d like to have. Each copy would cost $1.75. We recommended making up a dozen copies for circulation (perhaps at tables or to send to prospective speakers at future PTSD Symposia). We officially thanked Eric for his contribution to the chapter and his excellent work as “unofficial” VFP Chapter 001 videographer.
  • Jack Bussell and Bruce Gagnon announced an upcoming 1st District Forum for people running for Tom Allen’s vacated seat, sponsored by our chapter and various peace groups around the 1st district. The forum would focus on U.S. Military Foreign Policy. It will be held at the Rhines Auditorium in Portland on March 11th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. Five of six Democratic candidates have confirmed attendance. The auditorium would cost $155.00. Snacks and other amenities about $350.00. Jack and Bruce requested $500 from our VFP Chapter to help sponsor the event. VFP would have a table at the event. The event will be videotaped and moderated by Rev. Bill Bliss of the United Church of Christ in Bath. After opening remarks (5 minutes each) by the candidates attendees would have the opportunity to question the candidates. Rawlings moved and Wolff seconded the proposal that VFP Chapter 001 contribute $500 to the event. Approved.
  • Children of War Project: Doug shared an e-mail message from Jerry Genesio urging us to start working on organizing/preparing for wounded Iraqi children (there are 10 ready for flight to the U.S. within the next several weeks). We need to contact hospital administrators, find hosts and transportation providers, and translators (Spoken Arabic). His website ( provides more information. Volunteers from the chapter are needed. Please contact Doug Rawlings at if you’re interested in helping out. Doug will see if the Farmington area might have the infrastructure to help out. Other towns?
  • After lunch Bob Lezer encouraged us to sign up for committees to carry on this year’s work. His goal is to “flatten out” the organization and get more of the work spread out to as many members as possible. Bruce suggested that we establish a year’s calendar and then send out committee announcements. Each committee should have a chair to coordinate activities and to report back to the chapter officers.
  • Kristina Wolff began a discussion of the group’s organization, based on suggestions that arose at the organizational meeting earlier in the month. Her suggestions:

    • We maintain the same structure to accommodate the demands of MaineShare and other potential granting agencies
    • We need better lines of communication and we need to involve more people
    • We need to formalize the president’s and vice-president’s jobs more precisely. Background administrative work is too much for the president to do, so we need to set up major committees (“Groups of Ostentatious Fun”) with clear organizational responsibilities. These committees (GOOFS) would cut down on business meeting time and keep more members better informed.
    • President would be in touch with half the GOOFS and the vice-president with the other half.
    • Kristina agreed to do more of the “paperwork.”
  • Dan Ellis has created a new e-mail address for the chapter that will never change, regardless who the officers are. It is
  • Doug Rawlings discussed his current role as secretary and “gatekeeper” of the list-serve. He wanted to clarify the list-serve function: i.e., that he has been making decisions about what goes on to the list-serve and what doesn’t. Dan Ellis, our web servant, has already included a disclaimer at the end of each message that explains the purpose of the list-serve (it’s not a blog nor is it a place for personal messages). Doug wanted to find out if members felt comfortable with his process. They do. He then suggested that officers and board members maintain an informal oversight function to ensure that he doesn’t suddenly get too whacked out and start posting inappropriate messages. He seemed to think that might be a possibility.
  • Dud posed this question: how do we get younger people to join our chapter? Kristina (the youngest member in attendance) suggested that her generation would be tough to bring on board: we need to encourage non-combat veterans to join us. How do we reach them? Put small cards onto posters. Put small ads into local newspapers.
  • Dan Ellis asked for $100 to get website calendar software for our site. That would help get word out about our future meetings and actions. Doug moved and Jack seconded the proposal that $100 be given to Dan for the calendar software. Approved.
  • We spent the remainder of the afternoon watching the documentary “”Soldiers of Conscience,” a beautiful film about Iraq and Afghan veterans who decide to seek conscientious objector status.
  • The meeting officially adjourned at 3:30pm.