Veterans and Unions Defend VA Healthcare from Privatization & Greed

On June 24, VA union workers, Veterans for Peace, military members and veterans and supporters held a rally at the VA Madison Main hospital on Highland Avenue:  We say no to privatization, and we say VA employees deserve rights, a fair contract and good faith bargaining.

We are determined to protect our VA healthcare, educate those around us as to the situation and expose what is not being stated in the mainstream, corporate media (which is almost entirely owned by six massive multi-national corporations.)

We demand that the so-called “Veteran Community Care Program”:

  1.  Have a separate budget because if they meet the goals for private care, the entire budget will be eaten up and then some.  (They seek to spend all the money and dismantle our VA.)
  2.  Require all private sector personnel and facilities meet the same high standards that the VA meets.
  3.  Be redesigned so that elected representatives, veterans organizations and veterans are all involved.

The private sector cannot offer the specialized care that veterans need, but the privatizers don’t care. VA personnel have the skills and ability to deal successfully with post traumatic stress and the damage from depleted uranium. The VA is the best  place to get help with exposure to agent orange and exposure to burn pits. The VA has the most specialized care and experience  to deal with Gulf War Illness.



As Vietnam veteran and VHA patient Skip Delano points out:

“the private sector healthcare system does not have the capability or the capacity to meet the needs of veterans. They will be sent to providers who may know little or nothing about their special problems and may fail to diagnose critical conditions like PTSD, Agent Orange, or burn-pit exposure, or military sexual trauma, to name only a few.”

The next major demand on the horizon is poisoning from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) The government and big business have been hiding the effects that they found years ago.

In 2009 PFASs were listed as persistent organic pollutants under the Stockholm Convention, due to their ubiquitous, persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic nature.

First, veterans were hit with the massive privatization program called Veterans Choice, passed by the Republican Congress in 2014 and signed by President Barack Obama. But 70 House Democrats thought the Choice program was not the way to improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ veteran healthcare. They voted “no.”

The second punch was President Donald Trump hitting unionized VA workers with a “bad faith” proposed bargaining contract to replace the present contract covering 260,000 VA workers. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union members make up more than half of the VA’s 460,000 workers, and one-third are veterans.

VA management’s proposed labor contract guts worker rights and prevents medical staff from reporting serious medical errors or threats. Trump proposes that a disciplined worker would be prohibited from filing a grievance against an unjust disciplinary action.

Purchased politicians have also been busy working to undermine any workers who have bargaining power left.  The billionaires like to have slaves instead of negotiations.  You can see that in many years of Koch money and where it is spent.

“Members of Congress weighed in on the contract negotiations between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees June 5, calling on the agency to improve what they say are “anti-labor policies” outlined in the new contract…”

Over 100 Congress members accuse the VA of anti-union behavior

You have to ask yourself, “Why?”  Cui bono?

I think that it is obvious, like most everything else, certain politicians seek to make the rich richer by taking from the rest of us.  That seems to be how the politicians line their pockets.

The profiteers and their puppets seek to privatize our health care for the same reason they want to privatize the schools, the Post Office, the prisons, utilities and other assets that belong to Americans: they want to take our assets and they want to take them at the lowest possible prices.

I’m not letting go of what is mine so that some billionaires and some politicians can get richer.
If and when, privatization is accomplished, veterans will not get endless care. There will be vouchers or similar methods to limit care, much more so than today. It will become more and more about balancing budgets. It will become the same debate that they like to have with safety net programs. “We can’t afford this.” It’s a game called ‘starve the beast.’ Which is just an extension of the rich getting richer while the rest suffer.

For those who still want private care, fine, but don’t destroy our VA in order to get your care. The VA has had ways of getting private care for veterans when needed, all along.

Study after study has shown that VA care is rated better than private care.  At this point, the wait times are shorter at the VA than in the private sector.  The VA system is better, why not fix the problems in the system and expand it?  The VA would be even better with more staff, nurses, doctors, clinics, hospitals.

VA Now Has Shorter Wait Times Than Private Clinics 

Journal of General Internal Medicine, Report: VA care as good or better than other U.S. hospitals

Rand study finds VA care equal or better than private sector


Contact Coordinator Skip Delano at to get involved

To help us, complete this survey 

Privatization, like that promoted through the new Mission Act, will be devastating to us veterans in the end. The powers that be are baiting veterans with offers of whatever care they like in the private market. But when the privatization is done, those of who are not wealthy will be up a creek. They mean to use up the funding for the VA with this private care, and as they replace VA care… they are eliminating those services at the VA.

Listen in to A Public Affair from WORT radio Madison : Suzanne Gordon, author of Wounds of War 

To help veterans, please contact your U.S. senators and representative. Just say, “Stop privatizing the VA — fix, fund and staff it, and fill the 50,000 VA vacancies.” The politicians on the right can’t seem to come up with a healthcare plan that would solve the mess that is private insurance in the US, but they are determined to destroy the VA healthcare system that many of us veterans depend upon.

Memorial Day Peace Rally 2019

Veterans for Peace, veterans, friends, supporters and family all gathered at the Gates of Heaven at James Madison Park in Madison to honor the dead and rally for a peaceful tomorrow on May 27, Memorial Day, the peace rally is an annual event.

Finding peace and comfort in uncertain times was a theme that accompanied a week-long installation of the Memorial Mile along Atwood Avenue on the shores of Lake Monona. The Mile gives remembrance to the deaths of over 7.000 military members who have died in ongoing military actions around the world.

“The traditional Memorial Day programs have, we feel, a very militaristic flavor, and our program is really a peace event,” according to Veteran for Peace, David Giffey, who acted as emcee.  The Veterans for Peace rally is, in part, focused on communicating the great costs of war.


The event began as the band, Old Cool, led by singer Sandy Nowak along with Dan Hildebrand and Arvid Berge sang to remember the military members and other victims of war and to hope for a better future.




The Class of 2019 students from area high schools were recognized for their winning essays on topics about peace and nonviolence.  Veterans for Peace-Madison received 30 essays this year.

Ashley Cornwell, from Baraboo, read from her essay dealing with conflict resolution through diplomacy. We can do much more to communicate better and in working to understand how others feel and what they think.

Priest, poet and former Madison police chief David Couper addressed the peace rally. Couper spoke during the peace rally about his path to nonviolence and read his poetry, including a poem about what it means to be a patriot.



Our goal is to abolish war, said David Giffey, we can be advocates for peace and be patriotic.  The cost in lives, the cost of displacement of human beings and the opportunity costs are all  immense and avoidable.



Giffey read the names of Veterans for Peace who have passed away including Clarence Kailin, Joey Camarrano, Jim Ellsworth, Sidney Podell, Dr. James Allen, Jeff Goldstein, Charles Sweet, Dr. Eugene Farley, Joel Gaalswyk, John Oliger, and Ed Garvey.  Since Memorial Day, we have also lost Bob Kimbrough, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and veteran of the Korean War.

Melissa Sargent, a state representative from the local Madison area; spoke on peace, government, the civil rights of citizens and immigrant communities.

Give a listen: Audio of Melissa Sargent’s May 27 speech, courtesy of WORT FM and Gil Halsted.

Sargent honored the dead while reflecting on the moral injustices of war. The effect of violence and war on the military members cascades down to spouses and family members, and the impact continues long after the immediate conflicts are ended.

Melissa Sargent:  “This Memorial Day, it was my pleasure to speak at and to be a part of the Veterans for Peace rally. While we were honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, we also recognized the moral injustices of war and that the cost of war encompasses more than the loss of those killed. With lost loved ones, post-traumatic stress disorder, civilians who are impacted and injuries that continue after wars are over, too many people have had their lives torn apart by war.

While we cannot bring back those whose lives have been lost, we can continue to strive for peace in the future. We must lift one another up, and take small steps towards peace each and every day. I know that when we each do better, we all do better. We are stronger together, and together we can build strong and peaceful communities.”

As the attendees filed out of the synagogue, musician Sean Michael Dargan played somber tunes on his bagpipe lending to the sense of seriousness of the loss of these human beings, and we were handed carnations.





The red flowers were then placed on and near the Lincoln Brigade monument.




The Lincoln Brigade were volunteers who fought the fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, which initially the US government was not opposed to.  At least until, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini gave fascism a bad name.

More info on the Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War


Photographs taken by Paul McMahon, Heartland Images. Thanks to Paul.  Thank you to Norman Stockwell, publisher of the Progressive Magazine, for all of your technical expertise and hard work.

Veterans for Peace-Madison includes veterans from a variety of conflicts around the world.  We meet every third Wednesday of the month, our meetings are open to the public.  We invite you to attend.


Memorial Mile 2019: Join Us in Remembrance & In Working for Peace

Veterans For Peace Chapter 25 will be setting up over 6000 tombstone replicas, called the Memorial Mile, at Olbrich Park on Atwood Avenue on the shore of Lake Monona.  We do this  for Memorial Day to remember those who have died in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations of the world post September 11, 2001. This year, the display will be set up on May 25 and taken down on June 1.

If you would like to lend a hand putting up/taking down the Memorial Mile
* Setup is scheduled for Saturday, May 25, starting at 9am
* Take down – Saturday, June 1, starting at Noon

RSVP John or 608-438-7480

Map to Memorial Mile 

Memorial Mile 2018 Channel 3000 News Coverage 

Remarks by Ruth Coniff of Progressive Magazine  

Remarks by Dave Zweiful of Capital Times 


VFP includes all military veterans. In addition to veteran members, a select group of our allies in peace join as associate members.


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

1. To increase public awareness of the causes and costs of war

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

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

4. To seek justice for veterans and victims of war

5. 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.

Veterans for Peace Memorial Day Observance James Madison Park

May 27, 2019 1:00 PM | Gates of Heaven [Shaarei Shamayim] 302 E. Gorham St., Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Gates of Heaven Reconstructionist congregation


Finding peace and comfort in uncertain times will be a theme as members of Madison area Veterans For Peace host a peace rally the afternoon of May 27, and a week-long installation of the Memorial Mile along Atwood Avenue May 25-June 1.



Main speaker at the peace rally – beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, Memorial Day May 27, at the Gates of Heaven building in James Madison Park – will be State Representative Melissa Sargent, 48th Assembly District.

The Memorial Mile is a powerful graphic display of more than 6,000 simulated grave markers, which members of Veterans for Peace and other volunteers will install along Atwood Avenue at Olbrich Park. The Memorial Mile brings attention to U.S. deaths in ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Motorists and pedestrians are welcome to view and discuss the display for the week it is in place along the busy east side street.

Also at the peace rally, Class of 2019 students from Madison and Southwestern Wisconsin high schools will be honored for their winning essays on topics about peace and nonviolence. Some scholarship winners this year wrote about refreshing new attitudes about working for peace, and the consequences of videos, television and electronic media.

David Couper

Priest, poet and former Madison police chief David Couper will address the peace rally. Music will be provided by the band Old Cool. Audio equipment and assistance will be provided by Norman Stockwell, publisher of The Progressive magazine.

Bagpipe music by Sean Michael Dargan will end the rally as audience members place red carnations at the nearby memorial marker for volunteer members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The late Clarence Kailin, a founding member of Chapter 25 Veterans For Peace, was a Lincoln Brigade veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Chapter 25 founding member and Vietnam War veteran David Giffey will emcee the program.

Melissa Sargent

Rep. Sargent’s speech is titled “Stronger Together.” Among her subjects will be the importance of strong labor, peace, government, citizens’ rights and immigrant communities.

She was born and raised in Madison, and graduated from East High School and UW-Madison. First elected to the legislature in 2012, Rep. Sargent is in her third term representing the East and North sides of Madison and the village of Maple Bluff.



Rep. Sargent is a strong progressive voice in the Wisconsin Assembly, working to raise the minimum wage, provide equitable access to menstrual hygiene products, legalize marijuana, empower survivors of sexual assault, protect privacy rights, and other important issues.

Educational literature will be available from Veterans For Peace at the Memorial Mile site, and the peace rally at James Madison Park on May 27. Free will donations will be accepted during both Madison events.