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Veterans For Peace is an Americanmarker organization founded in 1985. Made up of male and female veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and other conflicts, as well as peacetime veterans, the group works to promote alternatives to war.

Foundation

The stated objective of the group is as follows:

We draw on our personal experiences and perspectives gained as veterans to raise public awareness of the true costs and consequences of militarism and war - and to seek peaceful, effective alternatives."


Veterans For Peace was founded as a non-profit 501 educational organization and recognized as a United Nations Non-governmental organization (NGO) in 1990, where it has represented since at least 2003. Chapters and members are active in communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. National conventions are held annually and members communicate through quarterly newsletters as well as daily list-serve news, online discussions groups as well as the national and chapter websites. Veterans for Peace has a national office in Saint Louismarker, Missourimarker and members across the country, both organized in chapters and at-large.

At least one unrelated anti-war group from the Vietnam War era had a similar name: "Veterans for Peace in Viet-Nam" participated in a number of demonstrations in 1967.. Yet another group with a similar name may also have existed at the time of the Korean War.

Anti-war activities

Starting in late 2003 Veterans for Peace became a major participant of protests against the Iraq War.

In 2004, a Southern California chapters of Veterans For Peace began installing Arlington Westmarker, a weekly "temporary cemetery" in tribute to those killed in the war in Iraq, each Sunday in Santa Barbaramarker and Santa Monicamarker, Californiamarker.

2005 Dallas Convention and Camp Casey

In August 2005, Veterans For Peace provided support to Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a US Army soldier killed in Iraqmarker who embarked on an extended anti-war vigil near the ranch of US President George W. Bush in Crawfordmarker, Texasmarker. In May 2004, one month after the death of her son, Casey, Sheehan had first learned of the organization after seeing coverage of the Arlington West display on television. On August 5, 2005 she spoke at the organization's 20th annual convention in Dallasmarker, Texasmarker, just a day before traveling to Crawford to begin her vigil. Members traveled from California to install an Arlington West display at "Camp Casey," the site of Sheehan's protest.

2006 March

In March 2006, Veterans For Peace and coalition partners Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out joined with Hurricane Katrina survivors and the relief and rebuilding organizations Savin' Ourselves After Katrina, Common Ground Collective, and Bayou Liberty Relief, as well as a number of African-American churches along the Gulf Coast on a march from Mobilemarker, Alabamamarker to New Orleansmarker, Louisianamarker.

Originally titled the Veterans and Survivors March, it quickly took on the moniker of Walkin' to New Orleans, in tribute to the famous song by Fats Domino. The marchers traveled the Gulf Coast advocating an immediate end to the war in Iraq and redirection of funds to help rebuild areas Katrina damaged not only in New Orleans, but also in Mississippi, and Alabama. The march and the events surrounding it have inspired a plethora of websites and images on the web.

Currently, the Veterans Truth Project is working to tell the stories of soldiers returning from the Iraq war to inform the public and connect veterans with their communities.

2008 July

According to Vets for Peace - Peace Action Network, "The military has a clear and dangerous presence at Milwaukee's Summerfest" (June 26 - July 6, 2008). "One exhibit is especially offensive: kids as young as 13 years old can aim automatic weapons from atop a humvee at a large screen to virtually kill people."

Issues

Veterans for Peace takes positions on a number of issues.

War in Iraq

When the U.S. government threatened invasion, VFP conducted public forums, met with elected representatives and participated in marches to express its opposition. As the war began, VFP gathered in Washington, DC, with other veterans groups for Operation Dire Distress. The organization participated in the Bring Them Home Now campaign and supports the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Local chapters continue to conduct educational forums, demonstrations, and ongoing Iraq memorial displays such as Arlington Westmarker (portrayed in the documentary Arlington West: The Film) to remember the growing human cost of the war, to end the occupation, and to bring U.S. troops home.

Veteran's affairs

Members and chapters actively participate in efforts to save VAmarker healthcare and defend veterans rights; to provide counseling through the GI Rights Hotline to active duty military needing assistance; and providing alternative information to counter military recruiters in the schools.

Patriot Act

Veterans for Peace seeks to protect civil liberties that they believe are threatened by the Patriot Act and other similar legislation.

War on Terror

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, VFP called for restraint while agreeing that: "...the hijacked airplane attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon a grievous assault upon innocence; a cause for outrage, sadness and disbelief....At this critical point, we believe it is essential to recognize that terrorists do not represent, nor are representative, of any community or country as a whole. We must not allow terrorism the power to create fear, suspicion and hatred -- or to direct our nation's domestic and foreign policies. We must not surrender to the cycle of retaliatory violence these angry people would push us into. Instead, we must come together and support each other, with faith and trust." [174088]

Impeachment of George Bush

VFP has called for the impeachment of President Bush. In a letter sent to each member of the U.S. House and Senate, Veterans For Peace stated that "this administration's war on Iraq, in addition to being increasingly unpopular among Americans, is an unmistakable violation of our Constitution and federal law which you have sworn to uphold. In our system, the remedy for such high crimes is clear: this administration must be impeached."

Agent Orange

VFP works with other Vietnam veterans, Vietnamese-Americans, and the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign to secure justice and compensation for the estimated 3 million Vietnamese whose health has been damaged by the 19 million gallons of poisoned Agent Orange and other herbicides that were sprayed over more than 1/8 of the land of southern Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during the American portion of the Vietnam War. In 2005, the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) sued 36 U.S. chemical companies for supplying the dioxin-laced herbicides to the Department of Defense. The suit was dismissed in Federal District court in 2007 and the reinstatement appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has not been successful. The suit is likely to head to the Supreme Court in 2009. VFP supports this activity because it wishes to promote reconciliation and friendship between the United States and Vietnam governments and people, and help heal the wounds of war.

School of the Americas

Each year VFP members from across the country go to Fort Benningmarker, Georgiamarker, to demonstrate for the closing of the Army's infamous School of the Americas, a training center for thousands of soldiers from Latin American countries which VFP identifies as having "long records of human rights abuses."

Korea

After revelations of the massacres of civiliansmarker by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War, VFP sent several fact-finding delegations to investigate these allegations and bring the hidden history of that war before the public [174089]. They continue to work for an end to that conflict through their Korea Peace Campaign.

Vieques

The VFP has actively supported the end of the U.S. Navy's use of the island-municipality of Vieques, Puerto Ricomarker for bombing target practice. VFP continues to support current efforts for cleaning up the environment.

Colombia

VFP sent fact-finding delegations to Colombiamarker and educated Americans about US military involvement, the murder of union leaders by para-militaries and other human rights abuses, including the use of harmful chemical defoliants in the War on Drugs.

Central America

Veterans for Peace members at January 2009 protest vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza
In the 1980s, VFP opposed US-sponsored wars in Central America. VFP regularly sends election observers to Guatemalamarker, Hondurasmarker, Nicaraguamarker and El Salvadormarker [174090].

Israel-Palestine

Veterans for Peace issued a statement on Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon condemning the targeting of civilians by both sides and the "unjustified and totally disproportionate use of force and violence by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)." In 2009 it issued a statement against Israel's attacks on Gaza condemning attacks on civilians both sides and stating "Bombings, rocket attacks, blockading medical supplies and military invasions will not lead to peace and security but will perpetuate the cycle of death, destruction, fear and insecurity among the people of all countries, including the U.S."

See also



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