Keeping in Touch—21 March 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Veterans For Peace,
I can hardly believe that it has been almost two months since I was elected as the President of VFP! I have been very busy and the time has really flown by. I intend to keep the membership informed of what I have been doing as your president through periodic written updates like this one. I want to promote better communication between the membership and the board, and encourage you to send your thoughts, comments, complaints and suggestions to me at my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also working on the idea of holding monthly electronic Town Hall meetings via a webinar service, and hope to have our first one in April.
In mid-February I traveled to St. Louis along with several other board members to interview the three finalists for the Executive Director position. The Board is extremely pleased with our selection of Mike Reid, and he is quickly making a difference. I took advantage of being in St. Louis by spending a day in the office (my first time to visit!) and was pleased to meet Casey and to have a chance to get to know Shelly a bit better. I also had the nice surprise of visiting with Woody and Betsy for a bit!
On February 22nd, VFP issued a public memorandum to President Obama (http://consortiumnews.com/2012/02/22/need-to-talk-sense-to-netanyahu/) that called for a public announcement that the U.S. would not support any military action against Iran on the part of Israel. The issuance of this memorandum was just before the AIPAC convention and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to DC. I traveled to DC to join several other VFP members including Bill Perry, Ellen Barfield, Billy Kelly and Ann Wright be a part of Occupy AIPAC—a series of panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations and protests opposing AIPAC and the Israeli government’s foreign policies, including the occupation of Palestine, and their calls for war with Iran. On Monday, March 5th, VFP held a press conference at the National Press Club where I spoke, as well as Jamal Abdi from the National Iranian American Council, Col Ann Wright, and Medea Benjamin from Code Pink.
I answered the call of the Smedley Butler chapter in Boston to come and participate in the second annual St. Patrick’s Day Peace Parade on March 18th. VFP as well as LGBT groups have been denied entry into the traditional parade, so last year they started their own. We had a perfect weather day with approximately 1500 participants in the alternative version—more than three times the number from last year. By all accounts the Peace Parade was a terrific success; bringing together people from the peace, labor, LGBT, faith, and Occupy communities in a show of unity. Last night (20 March), I had a very productive meeting with members of the Smedley Butler chapter, hearing first-hand their ideas, thoughts and comments. I hope to be able to meet with many of the chapters during my presidency. I believe the opportunity to speak face-to-face is invaluable.
Actually, I am writing this on a train from Boston to NYC, where I will be meeting with Chapter 34 this evening. On Friday I will head to Stamford, CT to be a part of the United National Anti-war Coalition (UNAC) conference where I will be speaking as part of a plenary as well as co-facilitating a workshop entitled “Occupying the Military-Industrial Complex.” If your chapter is interested in having a visit from the Executive Director (who is also anxious to get out to meet as many of you as possible) or me, please let us know and we’ll try to make something work out.
Very soon the new national VFP website will be launched, and we will be looking forward to your comments. In this day and age, it is imperative that our website be accurate, current, user-friendly, and informative. We also plan to expand our use of other social media such as Face Book and Twitter.
I believe that VFP has only scratched the surface of our full potential. I am very excited to be a part of such a terrific organization and I look forward to hearing from you.
In peace and solidarity,
President, Veterans For Peace
Exposing the true cost of war and militarism since 1985