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(Cleveland) The Cleveland chapter of Veterans for Peace wants the Virtual Army Experience (VAE) withdrawn from the upcoming Cleveland Air Show and has launched an opposition effort.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!”