This is the website for the local chapter of Veterans For Peace in Western North Carolina, based in Asheville.
For the most complete and current content about our activities and issues, please visit us on Facebook: Veterans For Peace Chapter 099

You don't have to be a veteran to belong, just a person who wants peace and is committed to taking action to achieve it.

Joan Baez is quoted as saying, "Action is the antidote to despair."

If you feel despair at the many costs and endlessness of our wars please consider joining us in taking action.

Peace and Justice Reading List
Begin with this short book written by the highly decorated Marine General Smedley Butler: "War is a Racket" Click the link to read the book in its entirety on line or download/print it. ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html
Then go on to learn more with this list:

To Become Radicalized in the Cause of Peace, please click here: https://youtu.be/ygCPqufDkvI


Statement of Purpose

We, as military veterans, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. To this end we will work, with others both nationally and internationally

To increase public awareness of the causes and costs of war 


To restrain our governments from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations 


To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons 


To seek justice for veterans and victims of war 


To abolish war as an instrument of national policy. 


To achieve these goals, members of Veterans For Peace pledge to use non-violent means and to maintain an organization that is both democratic and open with the understanding that all members are trusted to act in the best interests of the group for the larger purpose of world peace.

For More Information (Including how to become a member): www.veteransforpeace.org


Join us for the weekly vigil at Pack Square Vance Monument, Tuesdays from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.
MONTHLY MEETING TIME: The Third Tuesday of each month from 5:45PM to no later than 7:15PM. Held at The Block off biltmore, 39 South Market Street, Asheville.

All are welcome; please join us!

Our phone # is:
(828-490-1872)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Veterans for Peace member speaks at Poor People's Campaign


A Truthdig photographer - Michael Nigro - took this shot of Ken Jones speaking at the Poor People's Rally in Raleigh on May 29, 2018.

This is the speech given by Ken Jones at the Poor People's Campaign in Raleigh:

My name is Ken Jones. I’m a retired teacher educator and associate member of Veterans for Peace from Asheville. I am here to call for the de-militarization of our schools, the de-militarization of our society and culture, the de-militarization of our minds and spirits.

We all know about the presence of military recruiters and JROTC in our schools. What we should also realize is that the very curricula of schools are geared towards understanding warmaking and imperialism as a natural thing. That the norms and routines of schools all too often over-emphasize regimentation and obedience, preparing students to be compliant workers in a war economy, or to be good soldiers following orders, or – in many cases – to be prisoners. We should realize that the standardized tests that straightjacket teachers and students have a direct lineage from the eugenics movement and from the use by the military to separate and stratify its ranks.

We all also know about the glorification of war and soldiers in our movies, mainstream news, and sports events. Air shows and fireworks are designed to thrill us while acclimating us to war imagery. Video games for kids are developed in collaboration with the military. Holidays and parades are festooned with flags evoking a kind of patriotic idolatry. And now we will have Trump’s military parade in Washington DC, on what used to be called Armistice Day, now called Veterans Day. Veterans for Peace will be there to resist and to raise the banner of peace.

We should also realize how our minds and spirits have been conditioned by government propaganda and the corporate media to accept the inevitability of war and militarism. In the 1960s and 70s, there was a vibrant anti-war movement in this country. Now it is very difficult to get people mobilized to stop a nuclear confrontation in Korea, or to end our endless warmaking in Muslim majority countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, or to prevent the oncoming horrendous war in Iran. It is hard to get more than a small number of people organized against the brutal repression we sponsor around the world in the interest of capitalism and colonialism – in Honduras, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Palestine. Even when militarism runs amok in our own country – with our militarized police forces killing Black men and women every day, with ICE kidnapping and deporting our Latinx friends and neighbors, with the militarized attack on the indigenous resistance at Standing Rock, with the systematic dehumanization and torture in our prison industrial complex – so many of us have trouble becoming part of an active resistance.

But many of us ARE resisting, saying No More. Today, let us hold up seven Catholic Workers for their inspirational active resistance to the war machine. These are the Plowshares activists who illegally entered the King’s Bay naval submarine base station in Georgia on April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Dr. Martin Luther King. They carried hammers and baby bottles of their own blood to symbolically “beat swords into plowshares” and to call our attention to the horror and existential threat of nuclear weapons. One of them is from right here in Raleigh – Patrick O’Neal. Not all of us can sacrifice our freedom like they have. But we can all do something to bear public witness against the madness of war and the militarism that is spreading around the world like a cancer.

Let us be clear. We live in a society that spends 53 cents of every federal discretionary dollar on the military and only 15 cents on anti-poverty programs. An average of 22 veterans are committing suicide each day. We must turn this around.

We who believe in freedom and peace cannot – and shall not - rest, until it comes. We will show up, we will disobey, we will march on. FORWARD TOGETHER…

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day wreath


This wreath was placed at the Veteran's Memorial in Pack Square in downtown Asheville today by Veterans for Peace Chapter 099. Photo taken by Garland Walker. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend Parade in Brevard, NC






Photos taken by Garland Walker. Parade was on May 26, 2018.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

March For Our Lives March 24, 2018


Bob Feldman, Cindy Heil and Ken Jones at March For Our Lives in Asheville. 
Photo by Gerry Werham.


Cindy Heil carrying Veterans for Peace flag in March For Our Lives. 
Photo by Gerry Werham. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Joe Girardin Speaks at Artspace Charter School


Joe recently spoke at Artspace Charter School in Asheville. Here is his report:

Hello All,

My first experience sharing the realities of American militarism with students went mostly well. The event in general, and my two minutes per question, was too short to do justice to the discussion topics, and the other veteran speaker, an Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, basically presented her motivation to join the military and her coordinating missile strikes on Iraq from a post in Saudi Arabia as a noble effort to protect America, saying nothing about the devastation to civilian life caused by the US airstrikes, or the fact that her and other US military presence in Saudi Arabia motivated Osama Bin Laden's role in 9/11. She also described her service in the Air Force, with implications about military service in general, as being like a typical 9-5 job. 

Though there were some good questions asked of us by the students following our remarks, which afforded me the opportunity to deliver more talking points, there was certainly much left unsaid, which I plan to address with the coordinators of the event, in hopes that we can develop a plan to deliver the imperative background information pertaining to US-Iraq-Saudi relations that was missing from the conversation on Friday.

The questions and my responses are as follows, with the exception of the line about Hitler and Nazis, which I omitted when speaking. 
-Joe

================

1)   Please tell us about your introduction to the concept of joining the military and what made you decide to follow through and join.
 My introduction to the concept of joining the military was playing with G.I. Joe action figures and other military toys as a child, and was nurtured by TV shows and movies that glorify the military and war; video games, recruiting commercials on TV, in magazines, and billboards; military glorification in parades, at sporting and other events, in holiday celebrations, and by teachers at school; and of course by military recruiters, who tell young people and their parents anything—including lies and half truths—to get them to enlist, all of which instilled in me a perspective of military service as being an honored national tradition, that despite being responsible for terrible destruction and millions of deaths, somehow makes the world a safer, better place.
My decision to join the military came during my junior year of high school, when after years of being a less than diligent student, I felt unready for college, and saw the army as a productive way to bide my time while I figured out what to do with my life. Sadly, at seventeen years old, I was naïve of the fact that biding my time in the army would entail aiding and abetting the killing of hundreds of thousands, perhaps over a million, Iraqi civilians, including children.

2) How long did you serve and what were your primary duties?
I served for 6.5 years, from July 2003 to September 2009. My primary duty as a Unit Supply Specialist in the 10th Mountain Division was supplying soldiers with the weapons that some of them would use to kill innocent people. I also supplied Iraqi police with brand new AK-47 assault rifles, which to this day, I do not know the origins of, how they were paid for, where and how they were used, why we transported them in U.S. Army vehicles, and whether or not they contributed to making the world a safer place; I suspect not. While stationed in Japan with the 83rd Ordnance Battalion, I was involved in the storage and maintenance of vast stocks of munitions, which if used in the event of a military conflict in the pacific theater, would undoubtedly result in the loss of innocent life.

3) Compare and contrast your preconceived ideas with your reality of military life.

My preconceived idea of military life was one of comradeship, honor, and respect. The reality I experienced was a class society, wherein junior enlisted soldiers are the lower class, deprived of certain freedoms and respect afforded to the upper class of senior ranking soldiers, and who, often at the will or complicity of the senior class, suffer from racism, sexism, dehumanization, sexual assault, unfair punishment, public humiliation, indoctrination and orders that can lead to physical, mental, emotional, and moral injury, and death. I learned that institutional racism and dehumanization are also tools used my military leaders to make it easier for their soldiers to overcome the moral instinct against killing. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis used them to make it easier for Germans and their allies to kill Jews, gypsies, and others, and Americans continue using them, because many soldiers care more about their careers, i.e. money and power, than respecting and protecting human life.

4) What valuable lessons did you bring home/incorporate into your life due to your time of service?
Due to my time in the military (I use the term “military” rather than “service” because “service” glorifies the military, and implies that it’s primarily helping people rather than endangering people), I learned that Marine Corps Major General and two-time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley Butler’s book titled “War is a Racket” refers to what five-star general and 34th president of the United States Dwight Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex,” or the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” I learned that every U.S. military action since WWII has been motivated and influenced by the arms industry and other profiteers, who amass great wealth from the annual U.S. military budget of what is now just under $700 billion. These actions include but are not limited to dropping bombs on 
§  Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
§  Guatemala 1954
§  Indonesia 1958
§  Cuba 1959-1961
§  Guatemala 1960
§  Congo 1964
§  Laos 1964-73
§  Vietnam 1961-73
§  Cambodia 1969-70
§  Guatemala 1967-69
§  Grenada 1983
§  Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
§  Libya 1986
§  El Salvador 1980s
§  Nicaragua 1980s
§  Iran 1987
§  Panama 1989
§  Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
§  Kuwait 1991
§  Somalia 1993
§  Bosnia 1994, 1995
§  Sudan 1998
§  Afghanistan 1998
§  Yugoslavia 1999
§  Yemen 2002
§  Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
§  Iraq 2003-2015
§  Afghanistan 2001-2015
§  Pakistan 2007-2015
§  Somalia 2007-8, 2011
§  Yemen 2009, 2011
§  Libya 2011, 2015
§  Syria 2014-2015
And by extension, Israel’s repeated bombing of Palestine, which is paid for by an annual $3+ billion of U.S. aid to the Israeli government. 

I have learned that these attacks result in countless civilian injuries and deaths, which promotes hatred of America, and endangers us rather than protects us.

Finally, I have learned that if we are going to change our government’s propensity for perpetual war, and we can, we must take nonviolent action toward a more compassionate and humane society, for as president Eisenhower said, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Moral March in Raleigh NC


Chris Berg (L) and Ken Jones at the Moral March in Raleigh on February 10, 2018. Carrying the Vets for Peace Chapter 099 flag on a wet day. Photo taken by random person in the crowd.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

VA Community Resource Fair


Photo by Gerry Werham. This is Joseph John at the Veterans Administration Community Resource Fair on February 1, 2018.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

VFP Flag at Women's March in Asheville


Flag is waved by Cindy Heil, photo by Garland Walker.