Veterans for Peace Chapter 39 members are planning to go to Nassau County NY to support Iraq Veterans Against the War who are going on trial on December 10 and 11. Members of the IVAW were arrested while exercising their First Amendment rights at the last presidential debate. They tried to get questions asked of the candidates which were specific and important to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The vets were herded like animals by mounted police and one vet suffered broken facial bones when a horse stepped on his face. We invite all other chapters to join us in this endeavor. Please coordinate with Chapter 39 by emailing Jim Minnery at email@example.com. We anticipate renting a van and would be willing to pick up other VFP members along the I-80 corridor.
VFP chapter 39 held a somber Veterans Day commemoration in Cleveland Hts. on Sunday November 9. The steel gray sky and the freezing rain were a fitting accompaniment to the moving readings of the writings of veterans and their loved ones throughout American history. Tess and Steve Perry did a wonderful job, once again, in making this special day happen.
Check out the Veterans Day Program for all of the readings…
This video was created by Mike Ludwig, Sp5, U.S. Army, Vietnam and Steve Perry, Captain, U.S. Army, Vietnam, in tribute to The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier is a group of Iraq War veterans dedicated to exposing the injustices of this war…
Veterans for Peace, Northeast Ohio Chapter 39, spearheaded a community effort to seek withdrawal of the Virtual Army Experience from the 2008 Cleveland National Air Show. Earlier this summer, a successful effort had been undertaken in Milwaukee by the VFP chapter and other peace activists. Similar efforts had not been successful in Duluth.
On Monday, July 28, 2008, a four-week plan was developed. Opening day for the Air Show was scheduled for August 30th.
Goal: To enlist the widest possible community involvement in our efforts. To that end, it was determined our biggest resource would be the internet.
Message: Simulated Killing at the Air Show is not acceptable. After examining the Army’s response to efforts in both Milwaukee and Duluth, it was determined that we had to stay away from opposition to our current war, or war in general, and focus on the shooting-gallery, killing aspect of the “game.”
We highlighted seven principles we hoped the community would support:
- The Air Show is promoted as wholesome family activity
- Technology that simulates killing has no place in it
- The VAE misleads people about soldiering, disrespects what real soldiers experience and trivializes the burden they carry
- The Army may call it virtual, but it inflicts real pain on those who have been in war, have lost loved ones in war, and have lived with those who carry the scars of war
- The VAE desensitizes young people to killing
- Labor Day celebrates working men and women. The Air Show’s stated purpose is to assist careers in aviation
- Tax dollars are used to pay for the VAE
There is no way to determine exactly how many phone calls and emails were made to elected officials and sponsors, but we would assume hundreds. Anecdotes as well as an Army counter-effort would support this. On Friday, August 29th, the day before the opening of the Air Show, in response to a request from the Mayor’s office, the Army raised the age for VAE participants from thirteen to seventeen. The VFP put its opposition efforts on hold.
The Veterans for Peace has called a press conference to be held on Monday August 25th at 2:00pm at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square. Representatives from several different disciplines — medical, psychological, religious, and neighborhood social workers –will present prepared remarks for about two minutes each, with ample time for media questions at the program’s end. The following statement will be released to the press at that time:
VETERANS FOR PEACE
5247 Wilson Mills Road #454, Cleveland OH 44143
National veterans group opposes US Army recruitment display at Air Show
Group spokesperson calls urban warfare game inappropriate for family event
(Cleveland) The Cleveland chapter of Veterans for Peace wants the Virtual Army Experience (VAE) withdrawn from the upcoming Cleveland Air Show and has launched an opposition effort.
“The VAE has nothing to do with aviation and everything to do with desensitized killing,” said Mary Reynolds Powell, president of Cleveland’s VFP Chapter 39 and former U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam. VAE participants fire simulated machine guns from Humvees at life-size persons projected onto giant wraparound screens. “The Army says it gives participants a taste of what soldiers experience but in fact it portrays a sanitized picture of war and disrespects what real soldiers undergo in combat. There’s no gut-wrenching fear, no blood, no hideous visible wounds,” Powell explained. “This trivializes their sacrifice. As veterans, we know war is not a game.”
The VAE, a recruitment tool targeted at teens, is paid for by taxpayers’ dollars. Participants must sign in providing age, address, contact information, school and other data recruiters use to qualify prospects. Their “kill scores” are also retained in the Army’s computerized recruitment files. Killing combatants in uniform adds points. Killing non-combatants subtracts them.
“We don’t need to further desensitize young persons to killing,” said Powell, “We all want the murders and violence in our community to stop. It doesn’t make sense that we have simulated killing at a family festival promoted to celebrate aviation.”
Earlier this summer, the Army withdrew the display from Milwaukee’s Summerfest after sponsors received protest calls decrying the VAE’s objective and its presence at a community event promoted to families.
The public can find contact data for Air Show organizers, sponsors, Cleveland and County officials at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/opposethevae or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216- 210-4518 for more information.
“It will take a total community effort to stop this,” said Powell, “We welcome assistance!”
Veterans for Peace (VFP) would appreciate your assistance in a critical initiative. This year’s Cleveland Air Show, to be held on Labor Day weekend, will include the “Virtual Army Experience.” Participants will sit in simulated Humvees and fire modified assault weapons at life-size people projected onto giant, wraparound screens. A recent Wall Street Journal article about the exhibit quoted a 13- year-old participant: “I like that I got to use a gun!” He didn’t add that he was shooting at people.
Veterans for Peace is asking the Army, organizers and sponsors to withdraw the VAE from a festival whose purpose is to showcase aircraft and the many facets of flight.
We have attached a flyer that lists our specific objections and tells you how you can assist our efforts. Would you please review it and consider making calls to the significant persons listed? And keep calling them? The Virtual Army Experience was withdrawn from a Milwaukee event after only 300 calls were made.
In addition, would you please email the flyer to your personal networks and share it with Your churches and religious leaders, neighborhood associations, teachers, attorneys and judges (particularly those in Juvenile Court), pediatricians, mental health professionals, classmates, and the media? Finally, please let us know what you think about our effort. If you have any suggestions, we would like to hear them. If we need more support later –may we contact you?
As a community we can make this happen! For the sake of those who are, today, experiencing the horrors of real war, we appreciate anything you can do to support us.
C H A P T E R 39 • 5 2 4 7 W I L S O N M I L L S R O A D # 4 5 4 • C L E V E L A N D O H I O 4 4 1 4 3
Simulated Killing at the Air Show
This year, the Cleveland National Air Show is hosting a new exhibit called the “Virtual Army Experience” (VAE) that we think is inappropriate and unacceptable. Participants in this virtual urban warfare game hop into full-size Humvee simulators and fire machine guns at life-size people projected onto giant, wraparound screens.
Consider the following:
• The Cleveland Air show is promoted as a wholesome family activity.
• Technology that simulates killing human beings has no place at an event that purports
to be a celebration of aviation.
• The VAE misleads people about soldiering. It portrays a sanitized picture of war that
disrespects what real soldiers experience in combat and trivializes the burden they carry
the rest of their lives. War is not a game.
• The Army may call it “virtual,” but it inflicts real pain on those who have experienced
the physical and psychological trauma of combat, have lost loved ones in war, or have
lived with those who carry the scars of war.
• The VAE desensitizes young people to killing in our region, which has experienced
far too much urban violence.
• Labor Day celebrates working men and women. The Cleveland Air Show’s stated pur-
pose is to assist young people who seek careers in aviation.
• Tax dollars are being used to pay for the VAE.
Veterans For Peace opposes the inclusion of the VAE in this year’s Air Show. We respectfully
ask the Army, the organizers, and the sponsors to remove the VAE as an activity. We ask that
other peace activist groups, government officials, churches, mental health and educational
professionals, and most importantly, PARENTS, join us in voicing their opposition.
Turn over to see how you can help!
What you can do:
• Share this information with everyone you know including friends and family, churches, health and educational professionals, community associations, etc.
• Contact elected officials:
– Mayor: Hon. Frank Jackson (216.664.3990), or your own mayor
– City Council: Individual Councilperson or Clerk (216.664.2840), or your own council members
– Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners: Individual Commissioner or Administrator: 216.443.7215
• Contact local sponsors:
– Cleveland Air Show: Kim Dell; email@example.com; 216.781.0747
– Discount Drug Mart: Anita Fontana; firstname.lastname@example.org; 330. 725.2340 Ext 4478
– Cleveland Coca-Cola Bottling Company: Randy Cornette; 216.690.2653
– Metro Life Flight: Dr. Craig Bates; email@example.com; 216.778.2100
– Parker Hannifin: James Cartwright; 216.896.3000
– Cleveland Magazine: Lisa Sands; 216.771.2833
– The Wave (107.3): Lonnie Gronek; 440.236.9283
– WKYC-TV3: Micki Byrnes; 216.344.3333
– WDOK (102.1): Joe Restifo; 216.696.0123
• Contribute to a signature ad in the Plain Dealer. If the VAE is cancelled, the ad will thank the sponsors for taking action. see tear-off below
City of Cleveland and Air Show Sponsors
We, the undersigned, oppose the inclusion of the Virtual Army Experience in the
2008 Cleveland Air Show. Simulated killing is not entertainment.
Please tear off and mail checks payable to: Veterans For Peace, Chapter 39; 5247 Wilson Mills Road, #454; Cleveland, Ohio 44143
Name Phone Number
Email Amount enclosed
How you want your name listed in ad:
Veterans For Peace is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolishment of war.