San Diego Veterans For Peace Speak Out on War!

50 years ago, American boys, most under 20 years of age, committed unspeakable acts against a civilian hamlet in Vietnam. Over 500 women, children (yes! there were babies!) and old men were slaughtered by American soldiers. Civilian “collateral damage” is a tragic cost of any war; the My Lai massacre only exemplified it at a highly public level. The San Diego Chapter of Veterans For Peace is named after Hugh C. Thompson, the courageous US Army helicopter pilot who landed his chopper and, along with fellow crewmen, intervened against fellow American troops to end the carnage at My Lai. Thompson reported the “incident” up the chain of command but was met with indifference and ridicule by authorities.

50 years removed from My Lai, today we see American troops in over 120 countries, with US bases in over 80. Most of these troops in our “volunteer armed forces” are Whites, Blacks, and Latinos of limited economic means. They are the ones who risk their lives to further our endless series of wars. We are embroiled in multiple wars and conflicts, and the “Doomsday Clock” has just been advanced 30 seconds closer to midnight, due to escalating tensions over possible nuclear war. Drone warfare is commonplace with mounting civilian casualties, as American warriors in Nevada routinely target and kill in places around the globe. We see weapons of war – the AR-15 rifle, used by our teenagers against each other in high schools.

As citizens, we must draw connections between our foreign war policies of the past and those of today. We must see the links causing the violent war culture bleeding into our civilian lives. Absent the military draft most people do not see the true, total costs of war. Politicians continue to over-fund the Pentagon without any dissent and then reduce spending on programs that benefit our populace. If we fail to speak out, we are complicit in the wars our government conducts in our names.

The My Lai Memorial Exhibit, by allowing you to take part in the artistic process, honors the over two million Vietnamese civilians who died in what we call the “Vietnam War” but what will forever be known in Vietnam as the “American War”. This Memorial Exhibit offers 3 interactive opportunities to dialogue, build a sculptural collage and to share your artwork and comments. You will be able to participate in a strong, anti-war response to the Pentagon’s $63 million campaign to sanitize and to glorify this unnecessary, unjust and immoral military action. The Exhibit is suitable for high school age and above.

The 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre will be March 16, 2018 and the San Diego and Chicago Chapters of the Veterans For Peace, the San Diego Peace Resource Center, and the American Friends Service Committee invite you to the following events. These issues are as important today as they were 50 years ago!

Wednesday, March 14: World Beat Center, 2100 Park Blvd, SD 92101; Display open 2PM – 9PM
Speakers Program: 7:30 PM, Dennis Stout, Barry Ladendorf

Thursday, March 15: First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, 4190 Front St, SD 92103
Display open Noon – 6 PM

Friday, March 16: First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, Display open 2PM – 9 PM
Speakers: 7:30 PM, Dennis Stout, Marjorie Cohn, Barry Ladendorf

Saturday, March 17: SD Peace Resource Center, 3850 Westgate Pl, SD 92105;
Display open 12PM – 5 PM.
Speakers: 6:30 PM, Church of the Brethren, 3850 Westgate Pl., SD 92105
Fernando Suarez del Solar, Lori Saldaña, David Valladollid

•Marjorie Cohn, Attorney, Author, Legality of War Expert, Drone Warfare Expert;
•Fernando Suarez del Solar, Anti-War Advocate, lost son in Iraq War, Guerrero Azteca Founder;
•Barry Ladendorf, Naval Officer, Attorney, past President of Vets For Peace;
•Lori Saldaña, Peace Advocate, Was President Pro-Temp and on Veterans Committee of CA Assembly;
•Dennis Stout, Photographer, Vietnam Army veteran, offers personal testimony;
•David Valladollid, Purple Heart Vietnam Vet, CEO of Parent Institute for Quality Education, CA Student Aid Comte.

For more information please contact: Gary Butterfield, garyvfp@gmail.com

To view the My Lai Memorial webpage, go to: http://mylaimemorial.org

SDVFP Give Out 3000th Sleeping Bag Set in Downtown San Diego

Veteran members, associate members, and friends and supporters of the San Diego Veterans For Peace, Chapter #91 are proud to announce that in June 2017 the 3000th sleeping bag set was given out to the homeless in downtown San Diego!

It is through the generous on-going financial contributions of friends and the general public that our Compassion Campaign is able to indefinitely continue this humane life-saving program.

In December 2010 the San Diego chapter of the national Veterans For Peace organization began the “Compassion Campaign” — an outreach effort to help displaced homeless veterans. Ignited by conversations with many homeless veterans on the street in downtown San Diego, the chapter membership determined that the lives of homeless veterans and non-veterans downtown could improve significantly if given basic equipment – like a sleeping bag, as many were sleeping rough on hard pavement each night with only a light blanket, their jacket, or nothing.

Putting ideas into action SDVFP contacted local vendors about the purchase of 100 sets at wholesale prices. The humble goal of raising $3,000 was announced to members and supporters of the San Diego Veterans For Peace, with the funds to cover the sleeping bag sets (sleeping bag and waterproof nylon stuff-sack).

News of the outreach program began to spread, first to friends and families, and soon after to the general public – the response was magnificent support enabling the program to buy and distribute sleeping bag sets well beyond its original goal.

The “Compassion Campaign” now continues year-round, with veteran and associate chapter members (some who are in their 80’s) quietly delivering bag sets downtown late at night after the homeless have bedded down for the night. This makes finding those truly in need of items easier!

Bag sets are now purchased directly from the Coleman Company in Colorado and are ordered in quantities of 50 or 100 as donations come in. The Coleman Company generously provides bag sets at tax-free wholesale prices and pays the shipping charges to San Diego. The cost of a set is $33. All administrative costs for this program are pre-paid through the financial help of a generous donor.

Donations may be made online with a credit card or PayPal or checks made out to “SDVFP” can be mailed to:

SDVFP
13805 Royal Melbourne Square
San Diego, CA 92128

Each donor receives a card of thanks and a receipt for tax purposes; SDVFP is a 501-C-3 veteran’s educational organization.

For additional information, please contact Gil Field at GField@san.rr.com or (858) 342-1964.

Submitted by:
San Diego Veterans For Peace
Gil Field, Director for Communications

The Miramar Air Show: Just Don’t Go

The San Diego Veterans For Peace is now in our second year of working to influence the public away from attending the Miramar Air Show. We view American militarism as a clear and present danger to our society and the world, and the most visible symbol of militarism in San Diego is the annual Miramar Air Show. Every day we read of budget cuts to virtually every aspect of government expenditure except for military spending that keeps on going up. Spending of our tax dollars should be a choice of the citizenry and not left solely to the political-military-industrial complex. However, we believe that the public is being influenced to accept continuous increases in military spending in part, by the display of military power exhibited at the Miramar Air Show.

Costs surrounding military air shows just keep on racking up. As an example, this past year the Air Force crashed a Thunderbird F-16 at a cost of $18.8 million. Luckily no one died, but when the next accident happens, those of us living near the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar may not be so lucky. To date, 10% of the pilots who train and fly for the Blue Angels have been in fatal accidents. This is an unacceptable cost for the military and for their families. The V-22 Osprey that regularly performs at the Miramar Air Show is fast becoming known for its frequent crashes. As of this writing there have been 39 V-22 fatalities with three more assumed dead off the Australian coast. Every time there is there is an accident, the military dictates some changes that they say lessens the risk factor, but the accidents keep happening. We hope that an accident doesn’t occur here in San Diego and we suggest the people consider ahead of time how they might deal emotionally with the death of an aircrew, the injury or death of people on the ground, and the destruction of an F-18 aircraft that cost $50 million. It is not rational to assume all this risk solely for entertainment purposes. If an accident happens, are we to be callous and walk away, telling ourselves that the military people killed were volunteers, so no big deal? Recently a Navy Seal, trained at incredible expense, was killed entertaining a crowd in New Jersey when his parachute failed to open properly. Do we accept this? Clearly, sending our military to risk their lives to protect us is one thing, to please a crowd is insanity.

We also need to ask the question, “Is the air show solely for entertainment?” The Miramar Air Show web site boasts that 500,000 people attend the air show every year, but they don’t tell us which military contractors participate by renting luxury chalets right up front. In those chalets, the government contractors can, according to the air show webpage, “entertain and network with clients”. The manufacturers and contractors make obscene profits from selling the government war goods and then use some of those profits to enjoy shaded seats with fabulous food and beverages. Meanwhile the military people participating in the air show risk their lives to entertain. That risk is clear to anyone who understands military operations. Rappelling from hovering helicopters, simulating ground assaults, and flying low while simulating strafing runs are hazards that we cannot afford, except for training and combat. These activities should not be used for entertaining military contractors making deals.

There is a third and disturbing aspect of the Miramar Air Show that worries us deeply. Our children are being brainwashed because the Miramar Air Show glorifies war. It makes war look cool, fun and interesting. What we see is a deliberate push by the military to convince our young children to buy into wars that our politicians will dream up in the future. Our children are being dazzled with weapons and air displays. The powerful effect on our children can clearly be seen in a YouTube documentary by Chris Smiley, “Disneyland of War, short documentary”. Ironically this video, about the Miramar Air Show, should not be watched by children!

We ask the readers to watch it and ask yourself, is this what we intended for our children?

While all the noise and firepower can be exhilarating, the members of San Diego Veterans For Peace believe that there is no reason to risk our people and equipment for a weekend entertainment activity. Let’s get serious and let the people that run this air show know that we disapprove, by refusing to attend. The Miramar Air Show, just don’t go!

Dave Patterson
NoMAS coordinator and past President, San Diego Veterans For Peace

SDVFP Featured on Fox 5 San Diego: “Memorial Remembers Servicemembers Killed in Iraq, Afghanistan”

From Fox 5 San Diego

A veteran’s group held a somber name-reading ceremony on Veterans Day to remember the sacrifice of local service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

San Diego Veterans for Peace dozens of symbolic tombstones in the grassy park next the the USS Midway Museum on Friday. Members of the group tolled a bell and read the names of veterans from San Diego, Imperial, Orange and Los Angeles counties who were killed in combat.

The name reading continued all day long.