VFP Scholarship Essay Contest Open to Students in Six Rural Southwestern Wisconsin Schools

Since 2006, Veterans for Peace Chapter 25 has offered $500 scholarships to a growing number of graduating seniors in rural high schools in Southwestern Wisconsin. To apply for the scholarship, senior students are required to write a 500- to 700-word essay on the topic: “Why I Believe War Is Not the Answer.”

In each of the six rural schools where scholarships are offered, a member of Chapter 25 provides information to students about the cost of wars – both human and monetary – and alternatives to the military. Veterans for Peace counter-recruiting takes place during lunch hours in the school cafeterias, where military recruiters often visit. Guidance counselors in the high schools list the Veterans for Peace scholarships each year along with dozens of other community scholarships available to the students.

Since the scholarship program began nearly a decade ago, the number of participating rural schools has grown, as has the number of students entering the essay contest. In some cases, 15 percent or more of a high school senior class has written an essay on the peace topic.

In addition to the scholarships in six rural Southwestern Wisconsin schools, Chapter 25 also offers a scholarship for students attending a high school in the City of Madison. (See this page).

This year, schools outside the City of Madison participating in the essay contest include: Baraboo, Boscobel, Dodgeville, Richland Center, Riverdale (Muscoda), and River Valley (Spring Green).

Essays are judged by the VFP scholarship committee, and awarded at honors ceremonies conducted annually at each high school and attended by hundreds of parents, family members, and friends. When awarding the scholarships, a Veterans for Peace representative briefly describes the peaceful mission of our organization to the crowd.

The scholarships are funded solely with donations to Veterans for Peace Chapter 25. While the scholarship/essay program includes only a fraction of the 425 school districts in Wisconsin, it represents an important effort to educate students and citizens about the unbearable costs of war.

After the scholarships are awarded, some of the essays will be made available on this website: madisonvfp.org.

War & Peace – Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18th event in Chicago:

War & Peace - April 18, 2015Click HERE to view the Flyer

War & Peace - April 18, 2015Click HERE to view the Agenda

2015 Madison College Scholarship Application

A $1,200 scholarship will be offered for the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year to a Madison High School student who writes the best original essay on the peace topic “Why I Believe War and Violence Are Not the Answer”.     (See scholarship application for more details.)

This scholarship is open to any senior student at a Madison public high school who will graduate in 2015.  Applicants must plan to enroll at Madison Area Technical College (Madison College)–full-time or part-time–beginning the fall semester 2015, to be eligible to receive this award.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Saturday May 2, 2015.

Veterans for Peace College Scholarship

Is the Ferguson (MO) Issue Embraced by Our Statement of Purpose?

(Editorial note: Following the Ferguson, Missouri shooting in November 2014 and subsequent public outcry and demonstrations, there was wide debate within the VFP community about whether it was germane to take a stand on the those issues raised given our normal organizational focus on international peace. Madison Chapter25, which begins its meetings with a reading and reaffirmation of the national “Statement of Purpose,” discussed and approved the following statement. It was authored by member Lincoln Grahlfs, a veteran of WW II.)

A terse answer to this question is simply to note that one should not make a distinction between international peace and domestic peace. Certainly, any hostility along ethnic, racial or religious lines is inimical to domestic peace.

It should be noted, further, that at one time in this country policemen were frequently referred to as “peace officers.” Americans have consistently had a negative response when police in other nations assume the role of “enforcers.”

Certainly, it can be argued today that some of the most serious breaches of the peace results from exacerbation of racial, ethnic or religious differences. To ignore them is to turn ones back on any efforts for peace.

Finally, let it be noted that every one of us, as American veterans, took an oath to support and defend the Constitution; the thirteenth amendment to that constitution contains the statement: “nor shall any state deny any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction, the equal protection of the laws.”

Militarism’s impact on health is focus of fine article

November 11, 2014 7:00 am  • 

Public health professionals have generally failed to work for the prevention of war, even though — like disease —war has negative impacts on health for both civilians and military personnel as well as detrimental impacts on infrastructure and the environment.

In a recent article, nine U.S. and Canadian public health scholars and thinkers directly confront “The Role of Public Health in the Prevention of War” — a role that has been tragically absent. Published in the June 2014 American Journal of Public Health, the writers pinpoint “militarism” as a root cause of the public health industry’s failure to take up the cause of preventing wars. Public health, they write, “has been more focused on the effects of war than on working toward the prevention of the fundamental causes of war.” The authors also define “militarism” in terms that are both familiar and chilling.

Worries roiling around the anti-Ebola virus effort, when compared with the prevention of war, might offer some insight into the way in which many Americans, including public health professionals, ignore the obvious when a new war is proposed, or an existing war is accepted, or a former war is discussed. As the outstanding, and overdue, AJPH article describes: “The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Don’t the 190 million deaths “directly and indirectly related to war” during the 20th century represent a public health epidemic? Doesn’t the record-breaking war carnage of the past century qualify as a menace to public health?

If further proof is needed, consider this from the article: “Civilian war deaths constitute 85 percent to 90 percent of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle.”

Consider: “Ten percent to 20 percent of U.S. soldiers (of 1.8 million deployed since 2001) in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have experienced a concussive event with long-term health implications.”

Consider: “Thirty percent of active duty women experience rape, and 5 percent multiple or gang rape. Female soldiers are more likely to be raped by a colleague than to be killed in combat.”

Consider: “More U.S. troops committed suicide last year than died in combat.”

The compilation and concise presentation of these staggering statistics by the article’s authors is exhaustively supported by 223 carefully researched references, by title, website, date and page.

To their credit, among other important breakthroughs the authors present a case for the prevention of war in fewer than 8,000 words. Details about authorship, led by W.H. Wiist of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and references take up several more pages of this valid scholarly work, which is also very readable.

The writers follow a trail blazed when the American Public Health Association approved an official policy on the cessation of military recruiting in public schools. The APHA policy followed the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which gave military recruiters free access to public high schools along with the threat of funding cuts for noncompliance. According to the APHA policy: “Across the United States, recruiters from all branches of the military regularly enter every public high school to approach adolescents aged 14 through 18 years to persuade them to enlist in military service branches.” The vulnerability of minor-age children, and the disproportionate health consequences they face, compared to older soldiers, if they are recruited and sent to war is well documented. Action recommendations in the APHA policy include congressional repeal of public school collaboration with recruiters.

George Bush’s NCLB has been under justifiable scrutiny for its testing standards, while its enticement of adolescent children as potential combatants goes largely unnoticed. If parents, educators, churches, public health professionals, caregivers, and many other righteous people fail to intervene against the recruitment of minors in public schools, they embody the very definition of systemic militarism.

In three powerful paragraphs, the article dissects and defines militarism as extending a military mindset “into shaping the culture, politics, and economics of civilian life so that war and the preparation for war is normalized.”

Militarism “glorifies warriors, gives strong allegiance to the military as the ultimate guarantor of freedom and safety, and reveres military morals and ethics as being above criticism.” As a war-like, violence-seeking condition, the authors continue, “militarism has been called a ‘psychosocial disease,’ making it amenable to population-wide interventions.

“Thus, militarism warrants a priority focus for public health’s efforts to prevent war, including emphasis in public health curricula, research, and advocacy.”

Militarism’s profound effects on the economy, politics and corporate profits are noted, as are the military’s shadow cast across research and development, education, civilian law enforcement, justice systems, the media, outer space, and other important segments of 21st-century life. The writers wisely selected the pervasive presence of militarism as offering “critical insight for the analysis of the causes of war, the effects of war on health, and the influence of a culture of war on society and on the prospects for peace.”

They conclude: “Public health practitioners and academics have an obligation to take a lead role in the prevention of war by addressing the fundamental causes in society that lead to war.”

With clear thinking and focused writing, the American Journal of Public Health article explains precisely why “war is not healthy for children and other living things,” as the Another Mother for Peace anti-war slogan pointed out nearly 50 years ago.

David Giffey, of Arena, is the editor of “Long Shadows: Veterans’ Paths to Peace.”

Madison Veterans Hospital to hold town hall meeting Sept. 23

Originally posted on Madison.com.

Madison’s Veterans Hospital will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 23 for veterans, families, staff and the media.

“This will be a great opportunity for veterans to hear directly from hospital leaders about issues that concern or affect them,” according to an announcement this week on the hospital’s Facebook page.

An audit in June found new patients waited an average of 51 days to see a primary care doctor at the Madison VA. They waited an average of 24 days in Milwaukee and 17 in Tomah.

The VA has a 14-day target for wait times. Veterans in other states have died while waiting for care , leading to nationwide review.

The Madison VA hospital had a “significant increase in patient demand” and vacancies in primary care provider positions, resulting in the long wait for new patients, spokesman Tim Donovan said. The providers have been replaced or are being replaced, Donovan said.

In the 2013 fiscal year, patients made 1,404 complaints to the hospital’s patient advocate office, he said. Of those, 261 were concerns about the timeliness of access to care and 302 were about other aspects of patient care, he said.

More than 40,000 veterans were cared for in fiscal 2013 at the hospital and its clinics in Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Janesville, Madison and Freeport and Rockford, Illinois. They accounted for nearly 400,000 outpatient visits.

Veterans for Peace discuss VA health care, funding – The Cap Times

June 19, 2014 2:45 pm  •  By Jessie Opoien | The Capital Times

Local members of Veterans for Peace gathered Thursday to voice concerns about the “massive under-funding, massive under-staffing and effort to privatize” the Veterans Administration that they said has been occurring for the last 15-20 years.

The VA currently enrolls 9.1 million of the estimated 21.6 million veterans living in the U.S.

Memorial Mile honors fallen soldiers

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

MADISON (WKOW) — Volunteers began setting up the annual Memorial Mile in Madison Saturday.

The tombstone display is in memory of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, recognized every year for Memorial Day weekend.

Members of Veterans for Peace and other volunteers put up nearly 6,800 tombstones along Atwood Avenue at Olbrich Park.

“We’ve lost 6,800 service personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq and what we want to do is show for the next week tombstones that represent those Americans who have been killed in those wars,” says coordinator John Fournelle.

The display stays up through Memorial Day until next Saturday.

Originally posted on WKOW.com.

2014 Memorial Mile at Olbrich Park

Chapter 25 will again erect the stunning Memorial Mile in Olbrich Park, Madison, along Atwood Avenue. This impressive and disturbing mile of over 6,000 tomb stones is in memory to the US soldiers whose lives were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the first mile was erected in 2007, the chapter has received constant positive feedback from those who observe the mile by walking the sidewalk or even while driving by. The mile is erected by volunteers led by Chapter members. Starting at 9am Saturday, May 24, 2014, the mile will take about two hours to install. It will remain in place until Saturday, May 31 when volunteers will remove the display.

Memorial Mile

2014 Memorial Day Program by Chapter 25, Madison Veterans for Peace

Madison Veterans for Peace will hold its annual Peace Rally at James Madison Park on Memorial Day.

The program begins at 1pm with musical selections from the band Old Cool.

The featured speaker is Nicole McCoy, U.S. Marine, who will speak on “Sexual Abuse and Rape in the Military”

Nicole McCoy is a 24 year old Marine Corps Veteran from Colby, WI. After joining the Corps in 2008 she was stated in Albany, GA where she deployed to Afghanistan. During her enlistment, she had experienced multiple assaults and rapes. During on investigation she was lied to about requirements for the sex offender registration, which eventually lead her to start the first and largest petition against the Military. Her petition was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, Glamour Magazine online blog, interviews with Oprah, and Dan Rather. Nicole’s petition is asking for requirements to be changed when it comes to Military Sex Crime convictions, and asking for discharge papers to disclose any punishments one might have received while in the Military. Her petition has received just under 1/2 of a million signatures and still growing.

This years $1200 Madison High School Scholarship to attend Madison College will be awarded to Shamell Long’Homesly during the program.  Shamell is a student at Malcom Shabazz City High School and the winner of the 2014 James Allen Memorial Peace Scholarship.  (See more on scholarships from Chapter 25)

We hope you can join us at the park. In the event of rain, the program will be moved inside the Gates of Heaven facility at the park.