Tag Archives: Gainesville Veterans for Peace

Peace Poetry Contest and Peace Scholarship announce winners

Peace PoetryJP 1 peace scholarship winnersVeterans for Peace held their sixth annual Peace Poetry contest reading/reception on May 9. There were 225 poems submitted from all K–12 schools in Alachua County, and 34 winners were chosen. The students read their poems in front of 150 guests and received a gift certificate to a local bookstore and a book, which included all of the winning poems. This year Veterans for Peace also awarded three $500 scholarships to 3 students — Manuela Osorio (pictured), Catalina Cardenas (pictured), and Michelle Nelson —entering or attending college who have demonstrated leadership in peace and social justice causes. Musicians Lauren Ann Robinson and Bill Hutchinson performed at the event. Photos by Deborah Hendrix.

Tombstone display honors Iraq, Afghanistan fallen soldiers

11074393_10206199526854367_7752921689650873715_nVeterans for Peace will be displaying more than 6,827 tombstones from dawn on May 23 through dusk on Memorial Day on Eighth Avenue just east of 34th Street as part of their Memorial Day Weekend event to remember those who have died in the wars in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003.

The tombstones will line the street along Eighth Avenue just east of 34th Street, where the Solar System Walk is located. This is the ninth year VFP has set up the display, and in 2008 we had to cross over to the North side of Eighth Avenue due to the continuing number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans for Peace feel that these losses cannot be adequately understood with facts and figures alone. The visual impact of the tombstones conveys the reality of these numbers.

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Report Back: National Veterans for Peace Conference in Miami

Members of Gainesville Veterans for Peace pose with Col. Ann Wright at the National Vets for Peace Conference in Miami in August. Photo courtesy of Gainesville Veterans for Peace.

By Brian Moore, Gainesville Veterans for Peace Member

Veterans for Peace (VFP) held its 27th national convention this year in Miami. The focus was on U.S. military involvement in Latin America with the theme “Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean.” Speakers included author Alice Walker, Father Roy Bourgeois and TV host Phil Donahue.

Also speaking at the workshops were familiar names like Col. Ann Wright, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Iraq War resisters Camilo Mejia and Victor Agosto, Carlos and Melida Arredondo, Marlene Bastien and DeAnne Graham. They participated in presentations on Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, a panel on G.I. resistance, a Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration and much more. You can see video of the workshops at vfpnationalconvention.org.

We met with many other members to discuss current issues including drone warfare, depleted uranium, Agent Orange, the military industrial complex, the war on drugs and U.S. foreign policy in South America.

Many of the members present in Miami worked together in the ‘80s. In Central America, VFP visited Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. VFP was invited back to help monitor the elections of 1990. While older members of the organization were excited to reunite and have some laughs, newer members and guests were eager to meet some of these legendary characters who have devoted their lives to working for peace over the past decades.

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“The Invisible War” – A Documentary on the Rape Epidemic in the U.S. Military

From Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick comes “The Invisible War,” a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military.

Gainesville Veterans for Peace has teamed up with the Hippodrome State Theatre to show “The Invisible War” on Tuesday, May 15, at 6:30p.m. The event is co-sponsored by Gainesville Area National Organization for Women, National Women’s Liberation – Gainesville Chapter and Hippodrome Cinema.

The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem—today, a female soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The number of assaults in the last decade alone is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Focusing on the powerful stories of multiple rape victims, “The Invisible War” is a moving indictment of the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, chronicling the women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. It also features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long-hidden history, and what can be done to bring about much-needed change.

At the core of the film are interviews with the rape survivors themselves—people like Kori Cioca, who was beaten and raped by her supervisor in the U.S. Coast Guard; Ariana Klay, a Marine who served in Iraq before being gang raped by a senior officer and his friend, then threatened with death; and Trina McDonald who was drugged and raped repeatedly by the military police on her remote Naval station in Adak, Alaska.

And it isn’t just women; according to one study, 1 percent of men in the military—a staggering 20,000 soldiers—were sexually assaulted in 2009.

And while rape victims in the civilian world can normally turn to an impartial police force and justice system for help, rape victims in the military must turn to their command—a move that is all too often met with foot-dragging at best, and reprisals at worst. Many rape victims find themselves forced to choose between speaking up and keeping their careers. Little wonder that only 8 percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted.

Tickets for the “The Invisible War” are $7.50 and can be purchased in advance at the Hippodrome State Theatre (25 SE 2nd Place, Gainesville). After the showing, a surprise guest from the film will answer questions and talk further about the inspirations for and impact of the documentary.

For more information on the film, visit invisiblewarmovie.com.

Veterans for Peace Connects with Occupy Gainesville

By Mary Bahr, Gainesville Veterans for Peace member

Occupy Gainesville protests outside of Wells Fargo in Downtown Gainesville. Photo by Mary Bahr.

Dennis Lane, executive director of National Veterans for Peace, said the cost of war can be seen today “in family and community violence, in the human and environmental impact of depleted uranium and a wide variety of chemical exposures, and in a weakened domestic economy and de-funded health, education and other social programs.”

You may have seen the Gainesville Vets for Peace Cost of War program. It gives the cost of war to our local community and to the state of Florida, as well as the national costs in blood and taxes.

The data is derived from the National Priorities Project Cost of War project at www.costofwar.com. These pages will give you the cost in tax dollars on counters that change every second and will also offer tradeoffs (what those dollars could have bought in our domestic economy had we not spent them on war).

Even with troops withdrawing from Iraq, many troops and support personnel will be left behind. We still have to pay the costs of equipment replacement and health care, which are projected to total a trillion dollars each. And then there’s still Afghanistan.

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