VETERANS FOR PEACE, Chapter 23, MINUTES of meeting 2/17/2021

 

Present: Rev. James Swarts, Jeremiah Knowles, Bob Shearer, Marybeth Knowles, Arnie Matlin, Bruce Pease,  Jack Spula, Mick Cole, Roger Griswold, Bob Ames, VIc, Dave Longsdon

 

25 minute video on the School of the Americas

Chapter 23 previewed a video about the School of the Americas now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC); a military training school that was particularly ruthless in its training and violation of human rights in Latin America. If you would like to preview the video follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwiLHo6o6nM&t=556s. For more information about School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) you can visit their website at https://soaw.org/home/. The video is a little out of date but still contains relevant background information. 

 

Group Discussion

Arnie Matlin is a member of Veterans for peace and secretary of Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA). For more information on ROCLA follow this link https://rocla.org/. Vic, Bob Ames, and Mick Cole have participated in protests against the School of the Americas on the southern border. Veterans for Peace members who are interested in participating in protests at the souther border can reach out for more information and first hand experience. The headquarters of the SOAW was previously located in Arizona, and has now moved its location to the southern border. Recently, ICE has disregarded an order from President Biden to cese deportations. More information about this developing issue can be found here https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/02/ice-immigration-migrants-asylum-seekers-abuse-allegations

 

Of great concern is our local representative, Joe Morelle, was recently added to the Armed Services Committee while also receiving a campaign contribution from the Harris Corporation. The group discussed who would be the most impactful to petition for changes. Pressuring Kristen Gillabrand may be the most reliable method of change. 

 

The group discussed the possibility of leveraging our knowledge as a collective organization to work with college students and institutions to spread messages and awareness as well as grow the organization with younger members. 

 

Deported Veterans Update

President Biden has recently expressed interest in returning deported veterans to the United States. More information about these developments can be found at this link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/08/politics/veterans-immigration/index.html. “The existence of deported veterans is a disgraceful stain on the United States” (Dave Logsdon). 

 

The National VFP Deported Veterans Working Group is developing an initiative to put a mural, bringing awareness about deported veterans, to every city with a Veterans for Peace chapter. The mural may cost $300/chapter. Dave Logsdon will inquire how the logistics of this initiative will take place.  For more information about deported veterans follow Jesus Manuel Valenzuela on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brothers.valenzuela

 

National Updates

On the VFP National Page, there is a recent article reminding us of the Winter Soldier Investigation. You can find the article by following this link: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/pressroom/news/2021/02/02/winter-soldier-investigation-50-years-later

VFP is sponsoring an online petition to suspend military exercises in South Korea. When you get the chance, please consider signing the petition https://veteransforpeace.salsalabs.org/suspendus-southkorearokcombinedmilitaryexercises/index.html

There is a webinar taking place on February 18th on suspending military exercises in South Korea. More information about the webinar and guest speakers can be found here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_j9nn-Z2RTUOHPIXPzmH7Rw

This Sunday there is a Facebook Live and Zoom event featuring a call to action in closing Guantanamo Bay. One of the guest speakers is former U.S. Army Capt. James Yee who was a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo. He counseled prisoners and was imprisoned himself for his service. If you are interested in the event you can find more information on this Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/193924592432053/.

Dave Logsdon shared a documentary that was made called Peaceful Warriors: On the road with Vets for Peace that can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/311128527. The documentary features a group of VFP members attending the annual protest against the School of the Americas.