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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:

 

NEWS FROM

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(Cleveland) The Cleveland chapter of Veterans for Peace wants the Virtual Army Experience (VAE) withdrawn from the upcoming Cleveland Air Show and has launched an opposition effort.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 chapter39@yahoo.com or call 216- 210-4518 for more information.

“It will take a total community effort to stop this,” said Powell, “We welcome assistance!”

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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.

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Virtual Army Experience Flyer

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; kdell@clevelandairshow.com; 216.781.0747 

  Discount Drug Mart: Anita Fontana; afontana@discount-drugmart.com; 330. 725.2340 Ext 4478 

  Cleveland Coca-Cola Bottling Company: Randy Cornette; 216.690.2653 

  Metro Life Flight: Dr. Craig Bates; cbates@metrohealth.org; 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 

SIGNATURE AD: 

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 

Address 

Email         Amount enclosed 

How you want your name listed in ad: 

(Print clearly) 

Veterans For Peace is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolishment of war. 

<chapter39_vfp@yahoo.com>

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