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VETERANS FOR PEACE
CONVENTION

Workshops

Friday, August 25, 2023

2:00 - 3:30 pm CT

 

Climate Crisis - Veterans Respond!

Presenters: Matt Hoh, Miriam Pemberton, Janet Weil, Sharon Abreu, Aniya Butler, Woody Powell, Ian Mooney, and Gary Butterfield

 

In a time of both wars/militarism and the climate crisis, VFP CCMP members and our allies are educating the public and taking action, on the street and online. Veterans For Peace has a unique and often much-appreciated perspective on these existential threats - we have presented over 120 slideshows and taken direct action in DC and NYC. Join us to hear VFP Advisory Board member Matthew Hoh speak about the urgency of our current situation, followed by former Peace Economy Transitions Project Director and author Miriam Pemberton, who will present her research about the military's impacts on, and transitions in, local communities. Our session will include poetry by youth climate activist Aniya Butler and songs by peace singers Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz (The Irthlingz Duo),  then we will host an intergenerational discussion by our oldest CCMP member and former Executive Director Woody Powell and our youngest member, Afghanistan War veteran and PhD candidate Ian Mooney. The Q and A session will be moderated by Associate VFP member and climate activist Janet Weil - we look forward to a lively discussion. Find out how CCMP has already changed the discourse around the climate crisis and reached out to both veterans and civilians, and how YOU can be part of this inspiring work in your local VFP chapter and/or your community.

Matt Hoh is the Associate Director of the Eisenhower Media Network, an organization of expert former military, intelligence and civilian national security officials who seek to reach broad, cross-partisan audiences in diverse media outlets and among the American people – who increasingly sense that U.S. foreign policy today is not making them, or the world, safer. Matt is a former Marine Corps captain, Afghanistan State Department officer, a disabled Iraq War veteran and is a Senior Fellow Emeritus with the Center for International Policy.

Matt has been a prolific writer and speaker about issues of war and peace. Matt serves on the advisory boards of many peace organizations including Veterans for Peace and World Beyond War and is an associate member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Miriam Pemberton has worked for decades to redirect our militarized economy toward preventing climate catastrophe, first at the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament and then at the Institute for Policy Studies. Her new book is Six Stops on the National Security Tour: Rethinking Warfare Economies (Routledge, 2023).

Janet Weil is a Lifetime Associate Member of Veterans For Peace and serves on the Climate Crisis and Militarism Project. A former CODEPINK national staffer and a longtime peace advocate, Janet has recently moved to the militarized California desert, where she enjoys watching birds, photographing plants, and strategizing about how to deprive the war industry of funding and popular support.

Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz comprise the Irthlingz Duo and have been singing together for peace and environmental healing for 25 years.  They’ve sung in concert with legendary folksinger Pete Seeger and provided music for a wide variety of events, from the World Beyond War conference in Washington, D.C. to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. Their musical revue Penguins on Thin Ice was performed by high school students at the United Nations in 2007.  Sharon performed her one-woman musical show, The Climate Monologues, in the United Solo and Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festivals in 2016.

Aniya Butler is a high school senior from Oakland, California. She is a spoken word poet and performer and a leader of Youth vs Apocalypse.  She works to dismantle systems of oppression that cause the climate crisis and build a world of equity, sustainability, and love.

Wilson (known by one and all in Veterans For Peace as “Woody”Powell is a Korea War veteran, a former consultant in hazardous materials management, and the former Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, from 2001 to 2005. Woody founded the War and Environment working group in VFP, a precursor to the Climate Crisis and Militarism national project, and serves as our mentor and inspiration.

Ian Mooney is a veteran of the US Army and a graduate worker at the University of Kentucky's Philosophy Department. Their research focuses on questions of environmental ethics, police and military abolition, and new political ontologies. In addition to serving on the CCMP steering committee, Ian organizes with UCW local 3365, the Kentucky Poor People's Campaign, the DSA, and the Red Black Alliance. 

Gary Butterfield was drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam War and then declared as a Conscientious Objector and opposed the war while in the military.  He is resolute in acting on his commitment to Peace.  He is President of the San Diego Chapter of Veterans For Peace and currently on the Steering Committee of the National Veterans For Peace Climate Crisis & Militarism Project.   He is also a member of San Diego 350.org and is keenly interested in the effects of militarism on the climate crisis.

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Friday, August 25, 2023

4:00 - 5:30 pm CT

 

Leave No One Behind

Moderators: Robert Vivar, Jan Ruhman and Willie Hager

Presenters: Jose "Joe" Manuel Rico Villalobos, Jose Luis Cardenas, Laura MezaHector Lopez Guillen

Description: “Leave No One Behind” Workshop will discuss our work with Deported Veterans, the 80 Veterans Repatriated, the Legislation Passed in the House in the 117th Congress and resubmitted in the 118th and how you and your chapter or organization can get involved in our Legislative effort . We will also hear from a panel of three repatriated formally deported veterans and one still in exile, and are honored by MS. Naureen Shah, senior legislative counsel and advisor on immigrant’s rights at the ACLU, based in Washington DC on our panel today to discuss the legislative path forward in 2023 and 2024. VFP, National Deported Veterans Advocacy Project (DVAP) is a non-profit advocating for deported veterans and Lobby’s Congress to Amend 8 US Code 1101 (a) (22) to make them U. S. Nationals on graduating boot camp. We work side by side with Unified U. S. Deported Veterans (UUSDV) that advocates in the U. S. and in Tijuana BC Mex. from the VFP Chapter 182 Resource and Information Center Office in Tijuana, BC, Mex., providing access to pro-bono legal counsel, case management, and other support services to help veterans rebuild their lives in deportation and obtain their VA Benefits they qualify for in exile. We hope you will join us for this important workshop. Thank you!

Robert Vivar is Co-Executive Director of the Unified U.S. Deported Veterans Resource Center. He is also a member of the VFP National Deported Veterans Advocacy Project and a member of Chapter 182 in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. Deported in 2013, he began working with Deported Veterans in 2014 and has been instrumental in their return home and continues to do so today. He was repatriated in 2021. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife.

Willie Hager is a lifetime member of VFP as well as the Project Coordinator for VFP National Deported Veterans Advocacy Project. He previously served as a board member of VFP from 2013 to 2016 and again from 2018 to 2021. A member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War since 1971, he currently lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his life partner.

Jan A. Ruhman is the Operations Coordinator for the VFP National Deported Veterans Advocacy Project as well as a member of VFP Chapter 91 in San Diego since 2008. A member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War since 1971, he currently lives in San Diego, California.

Jose “Joe” Manuel Rico Villalobos was born in Salamanca, Guanajuato, Mexico and served in the U.S. Navy with two tours in Iraq between 2002 and 2006, following that service with three years in the reserves. After being honorably discharged, he was deported in 2019 and repatriated in 2023 where he lives in Texas with his family.

Jose Luis Cardenas was born in Colima, Mexico and was drafted into the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division in 1970 at age 20. After being honorably discharged in 1972, he was deported in 2009 and repatriated in 2022. He currently lives in San Diego, California with his family.

Laura Meza is a deported & repatriated US Army and Iraq War veteran. Born in a small Town in Costa Rica, she arrived in the US at the age of five. After graduating high school, she joined the Army, with a goal of embracing higher education and becoming a US citizen. During training, she embraced the spirit of pride and joy to serve her country.

 

After AIT, she was deployed to Germany, where she was the victim of MST, and soon found herself en route to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) where she served as a dental assistant as well as manpower, carrying wounded soldiers and civilians. 

 

Upon Laura's return home, her struggle with the effects of war as well as her MST, led her to self-medicate. This led to legal issues and she was Deported in 2009 from the country she was willing to give her life for. Life in Costa Rica was very challenging for a full-time mom with a young son Jaden with ADHD. Caring for her child and volunteering as a preschool teacher helped her to endure the pain and trauma.

 

On Apr 17, 2023, with the amazing work of Atty. Lindsay Toczylowski, Founding Director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Laura and Jaden arrived back home in the USA into the waiting arms of her US citizen Mom, Dad, sister and her other treasures, her daughter and granddaughter.

 

Laura now faces a different struggle to adjust to a new life in the USA, while still struggling with the lived trauma and horrors.

Hector Lopez Guillen is the Co-Executive Director and Co-founder of Unified U.S. Deported Veterans and the Unified Deported Veterans Resource Center Office. He is a member of the VFP National Deported Veterans Advocacy Project and a member of Chapter 182 in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He is the 1st Sergeant taking care of the "troops" and with his wife runs the office. Born in Michoacan, Mexico. Came to the U. S at age 3 yrs. He joined the U. S. Army in 1982 and was activated for Granada. He has two Honorable Discharges. Deported in 2006. His Father died in 2009 while in Exile. Around 2008 I saw a newscast about a U.S.Military Veteran being deported from Canada back to The United States.That's where I met a Member of Veterans for Peace Jan Ruhman and It was then that I knew that I would fight my deportation until I could come back Home. Around that same time I found another Deported Veteran named Hector Barajas and together we found out that we were Not the only Deported Veterans in Mexico and or in The World. First we were Veterans without Borders,then Deported Veterans of America,and now Unified U.S.Deported Veterans. I have been The Co-Director of Unified for about 6 Years. Currently living in exile in Tijuana, BC, Mexico with his wife Maria "Lupita" Cibrian.

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Saturday, August 26, 2023

3:00 - 4:30 pm CT

 

Rising Danger of War in Asia-Pacific: US v. China and North Korea?

 

Presenters: Ann Wright, K.J. Noh, Simone Chun, Peter Kuznick

Description: Numerous US intelligence analysts, diplomats, officials, and military generals have described China as an existential threat, and the 2022 National Defense Strategy, or NDS, places a primary focus on the need to “sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence against China." Sixty percent of US naval power is now stationed around China, while US and allied military bases surrounding China prepare for a war to "contain" China's peaceful economic rise. In the meantime, tensions on the Korean Peninsula are escalating. The "Washington Declaration" from the Biden-Yoon summit in April openly threatened that the US "will further enhance the regular visibility of strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula," including an "upcoming visit of a US nuclear ballistic missile submarine to the ROK." What are the risks of war, even nuclear war, as US elites push our world towards a global war in Asia? Four experts will discuss the situation and the dangers involved.

Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She is the co-author of the book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” She is an Advisory Board member of Veterans For Peace, a member of Women Cross DMZ, and she has visited China and Korea several times. Ann Wright will facilitate the panel.

K.J. Noh is a political analyst, educator and journalist focusing on the geopolitics and political economy of the Asia-Pacific. He has written for Dissident Voice, Black Agenda Report, Asia Times, Counterpunch, LA Progressive, MR Online. He recently co-authored a study on the military transmission of infectious diseases and its implications for Covid transmission.

 

Simone Chun is a researcher and activist focusing on inter-Korean relations and U.S. foreign policy in the Korean Peninsula. She has served as an assistant professor at Suffolk University, a lecturer at Northeast University and an associate in research at Harvard University’s Korea Institute.

 

Peter Kuznick Is co-author with Akira Kimura of Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives. He and filmmaker Oliver Stone co-authored the 12-part Showtime documentary film series and book The Untold History of the United States (2012-2013).

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Sunday, August 27, 2023

11:00 – 12:30 pm CT

 

Ousting U.S. Nuclear Weapons from Europe

Presenters: Marion Küpker & John LaForge 

 

Description: The U.S. stations about 100 nuclear gravity bombs called B61s at bases in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Turkey, where foreign pilots flying foreign fighter jets train to attack Russia with them. A German coalition of over 70 organizations including Nukewatch, and other European groups are working to see the U.S. nuclear weapons ousted. For over 10 years LaForge has worked in the coalition, organizing delegations of U.S. peace activists to Germany where they joined demonstrations at the German air base Büchel which holds some of the US bombs. In 2023 he was the first U.S. citizen to be imprisoned in Germany for civil resistance at the base and served 50 days. He will present an overview of the German campaign, which has included lobbying, marches, peace literature, nonviolent action, trial court and appeal court arguments, and jail-going, all aimed at seeing the permanent withdrawal of the nuclear weapons.

 

Marion Küpker has worked over 26 years for a nuclear-free Europe and is a member of the Campaign Council of the German-wide organization “Büchel is Everywhere!” which is made up of 75 groups committed to the permanent withdrawal of the U.S. H-bombs from Germany, a Europe without nuclear weapons, and German ratification of the 2017 Treaty on the prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Her focus is nonviolent direct action, and she has coordinated, supported and informed protest groups at a dozen international peace action camps outside Büchel air base where 20 U.S. nuclear weapons are stationed. She writes regularly for German civil society magazines on nuclear weapons and feminism. She is a recipient of Germany’s 2019 Aachen Peace Prize and the 2019 Oberhausen Prize.

  

John LaForge is a disarmament activist and has been a co-director of the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch, and co-editor of its Quarterly, since 1992. He is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nukewatch’s 2015 revised edition of Nuclear Heartland: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States, and is a regular contributor to CounterPunch.org and ZNET.org, and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.org, where he writes on nuclear weapons, reactors, militarism and nonviolent resistance. He has testified to British and Dutch parliamentarians on the illegality of depleted uranium weapons used extensively by the U.S. military, and is a co-recipient of the 2004 US Peace and Justice Studies Association’s Social Courage Award, and the 1986 War Resisters League Peace Award.

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Sunday, August 27, 2023

1:00 – 2:30 pm CT

 

How Different Our Work Would Be in a Democracy

Presenters: Mike Ferner & Greg Coleridge 

Description: VFP members, like so many others in the struggle for peace and justice, are always on the defensive because corporations wield governing power and we are always reacting to them -- fighting another specific weapons system, another invasion, another human rights violation. VFP can be a leader in showing how we can do that work, while also overthrowing corporate rule so we are "running the show" and not the other way around.

Mike Ferner - Graduating high school in 1969 "with a head full of John Wayne movies,” Mike enlisted as a Navy corpsman and tried to reassemble pieces of G.I.s who arrived at Great Lakes Naval Hospital on frequent medevac flights from Vietnam, leading him to become a war resister and conscientious objector after serving on the carrier USS Hancock.  

 

He has been a union organizer, member of Toledo City Council, and communications director for the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy.

 

Mike accompanied Kathy Kelly to Iraq just prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003, returning in 2004 for two months and wrote “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq.” Through 2010 he was busy speaking against the war and getting arrested for civil resistance.

 

Previously he was a member and president of VFP's board, with one other stint as Interim Director. 

 

Greg Coleridge is Co-Director of Move to Amend, the national organization getting congressional sponsors on a constitutional amendment to deny corporations the rights of people and end "money = speech."  

 

For over 30 years he worked for the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio where he educated, advocated and organized on a range of justice, peace, environmental and democracy issues.He currently maintains and distributes via email a weekly REAL Democracy History Calendar and Monetary History Calendar.

 

He is a Board Member of the Alliance for Just Money (AFJM). He previously served an elected term on the national governing board of Common Cause and was a Principal with the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD).

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Sunday, August 27, 2023

3:00 – 4:30 pm CT

What is the Future for Veterans For Peace?

Panelists: Patrick McCann, Susan Schnall, Mike Ferner, Matt Southworth, Josh Shurley

Description: Veterans For Peace is at a crossroads. Our organization, a mass organization, is needed today. We must find ways to sustain ourselves for both the immediate and long-term future, especially in terms of both membership and financing.

Patrick McCann is a former national president of VFP (2013 and 2014), and has been on the VFP board for 11 years. He also held the VFP Treasurer and Recording Secretary positions.

 

Patrick joined the USAF in 1970, 4 days prior to his 18th birthday, volunteered for Vietnam, and planned to be a career soldier. He attended an event in Chicago on the 2nd anniversary of the murder of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by the FBI and the Chicago police in December, 1971. He walked out of the event no longer ‘their soldier’. Patrick then engaged in ongoing battle with his commanding officers and the war machine, leading to a month in the stockade and an undesirable discharge. He separated from the USAF May 4 th , 1972, 2 years after the Kent State massacre.

 

Patrick retired from 23 years of teaching high school English in the Maryland suburbs. He’s been fully retired for 5+ years, and lives in Palm Beach County, FL. He is an active supporter of the ‘impacted families’ movement (those who lost a family member to police murder).

 

Contact Patrick at unityact2@aol.com, 240-482-6291, or 6445 Cypress Lane, Lake Worth, FL 33462.

Susan Schnall is President of the Veterans for Peace national Board of Directors and President of the NYC VFP chapter. She is a member of the core of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, lifetime member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. For several years she organized scientific panels for presentations about Agent Orange at the American Public Health Association annual meetings and international Agent Orange conferences in Hanoi, Vietnam.

She was an active duty Navy nurse (LT.JG) during the American conflict in Vietnam. In 1969 she was tried and found guilty by general court martial for conduct unbecoming an officer for dropping anti war leaflets over five military bases in the San Francisco Bay area and wearing her uniform in the GI and Veterans March for Peace on October 12, 1968 in San Francisco. Susan Schnall was an Assistant Adjunct Professor, New York University, School of Professional Studies, Healthcare Management for 25 years. In April, 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities by Ohio Wesleyan University. She retired after 31 years in New York City public hospitals.

Mike Ferner - Graduating high school in 1969 "with a head full of John Wayne movies,” Mike enlisted as a Navy corpsman and tried to reassemble pieces of G.I.s who arrived at Great Lakes Naval Hospital on frequent medevac flights from Vietnam, leading him to become a war resister and conscientious objector after serving on the carrier USS Hancock.  

 

He has been a union organizer, member of Toledo City Council, and communications director for the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy.

 

Mike accompanied Kathy Kelly to Iraq just prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003, returning in 2004 for two months and wrote “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq.” Through 2010 he was busy speaking against the war and getting arrested for civil resistance.

 

Previously he was a member and president of VFP's board, with one other stint as Interim Director. 

Matt Southworth is a fundraising professional with two decades of experience in organizing, peace and justice lobbying, and fundraising. Over much of the last decade, he has worked mainly in Leadership and Major Gifts at Trinity College, Wilmington College, the American Red Cross, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in Washington, DC. While at FCNL, Matt worked first as a grassroots organizer and peace lobbyist, leading FCNL’s advocacy on Afghanistan and U.S. drones policy, before he then transitioned to working as a Major Gifts Officer. Presently, Matt is the Regional Director of Major Gifts for New England and the Mid-Atlantic at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He enjoys helping direct philanthropy in ways that best reflect donor goals and values.   

 

Matt joined the U.S. Army after high school as an intelligence analyst. He is a veteran of the Iraq War. After being honorably discharged, he attended Wilmington College (Ohio) and graduated magna cum laude in 2009 with a BA in Political Science and History. Previously, Matt has served on the Board of Directors for Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace, Board of Directors of Quaker House (Fayetteville, NC) and on the President’s Advisory Council at Wilmington College. Matt is a member of Veterans for Peace. Matt is passionate about learning, he is a Quaker, a brown belt in Brazilian Jujitsu, an avid hiker, a decent gardener and he loves spending time with his family.

Josh Shurley is a post-Cold War army veteran who served as an infantryman throughout the 1990s and left military service in 2001. After leaving the military, Josh earned degrees in anthropology and political science from Cal State University, Fresno and later earned a PhD from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. His doctoral field research examined the role of AFRICOM and the effects of US special operations activities on civilian populations in Central Africa during the lesser-known interventions associated with the so-called Global War on Terror (which was a major impetus for his joining veterans For Peace in 2016). Josh is currently an adjunct political science professor at Fresno City College, a proud member of the SCFT union #1533, as well as a board member and organizer with a handful of peace and social justice organizations at the local and national level. He also hosts a progressive radio program in the Central Valley for the local KPFA affiliate. Today he is serving his second term on the VFP national board of directors and is the lead organizer of VFP Chapter 180 in Fresno, California. 

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