Remembering Jacob David George

September 18, 2014
Facebook.com/jacob.d.george.1
Jacob David GeorgeJacob George, a 3-tour Afghanistan War Veteran and IVAW member from Arkansas took his own life yesterday. He was an incredibly warm person, a gifted troubadour and banjo player, and as he described himself, a ‘storytelling hillbilly’.

Jacob visited Veterans For Peace 69 at the War Memorial Building in August 2011 with fellow Afghanistan Vet Brock Macintosh following their civilian return to Afghanistan.

My strongest memories of Jacob are when I met him the first time here in SF when he was visiting VFP sharing his experience of visiting Afghanistan as a civilian, when we and so many others marched in Chicago at the NATO protest before we threw back our medals (and he saved the day being one of the few musically and cadence-inclined people in our marching block), and when local vets Graham, Max, and I saw him perform songs from his heartbreaking album, A Soldier’s Heart last summer. He was one of those amazing humans that affects everybody around him for the better. His gentle demeanor spoke nothing of his inner torment. He was a true peaceful warrior.

Jacob throwing his medals back, NATO Chicago, May 2012

I’ll leave you with his song that says everything: “Soldier’s Heart.”

Joshua Shepherd

Posted in Afghanistan, Health, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Music, Peace Demonstrations, PTSD, Voices Of Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AFSP: Out of the Darkness — Walk With Team Chip

Honor The Memory of Reuben “Chip” “Wage” Santos
American Foundation For Suicide Prevention Walk
Sunday, September 21, 2014
9am Registration
10am Walk begins
Mission Creek Park by AT &T Park, San Francisco
Driving & Transportation
Offline donation formOnline registrationDonation

AFSP Out of Darkness Walk: Reuben Chip Wage Santos

AFSP Out of Darkness Walk: Reuben Chip Wage Santos

We will walk in memory of Reuben Chip Wage Santos and all of those we’ve lost to suicide. Together we can raise awareness and save lives.

Paula & Ruben

Prior To The Walk Event organizers provide coffee, water, fresh fruit, bagels and granola bars. Take some time to visit the informational booths, register for the drawings, grab and wear your memory beads, visit the memory wall and watch the memory video. Please also take time to listen to the inspirational speakers.

AFSP Out of Darkness Walk: Reuben Chip Wage Santos

AFSP Out of Darkness Walk: Reuben Chip Wage Santos

Look for our sign with Chip’s photos and white balloons with his image for our gathering place.

After The Walk You’re invited to lunch after the walk: please join our family for one of Chip’s favorite meals of Pozole at the Avalon Apartments Mission Bay Courtyard. Thank you team member, Mark Guthrie, for reserving this space for us. We will have use of outdoor cooking area, fireplace, tables & chairs and an accompanying room with restrooms. We look forward to relaxing and catching up with you after the walk. If you’re unable to walk you can still join us at the Avalon courtyard. You can also support by cheering on walkers at the event.

Directions to Avalon It is a short walk to the building from the parking lot area of Mission Creek. Walk across the bridge on 4th and take a left on Berry street. You’ll see the Avalon buildings on the right. Meet on Berry Street, between 4th and 5th Streets at the top of the steps by the gate. If one of our walkers is not there to let you in, call Ruben 650 255-3913, Paula 650 255-7317, Kierin 650 922-9362, Ian 415 694-1106

Reminder  The walk has been moved to Mission Creek Park a new location. The hope is that this location in the AT& T Park & Embarcadero area will be more scenic from start to finish, and will be more visible to the public to help raise awareness and be more accessible to reach by public transportation. I’ve been assured by the walk organizers that the walk will be 2 1/2 miles with plenty of volunteers along the way.

Parking Organizers are still trying to work out parking in the area, but they will probably use a Public Parking Lot on Fourth Street and there may be a fee of $10.00. We will keep you posted when we learn more.  Driving and public transportation: missionbayparks.com

Registration If you’ve registered and made a donation on line…thank you and congratulations for being able to navigate the AFSP website! You can also register the day of the event or make donations offline. Print out this form and bring it with you if you will register or make your donation the day of the event.

In peace, love, and appreciation for your support,
Paula & Ruben Santos

Veterans For Peace Chapter 69 members join the Santos family on this walk in honoring the memory their son  Walking In Memory of Reuben Paul Santos Iraq War Veterans.

Posted in Event, Health, Peace Journeys, Photo Gallery, San Francisco Chapter, Veterans For Peace, Voices Of Veterans, Western Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zekerhullah’s Story: Surmounting Fear Through Nonviolent Resistance

Afghan Peace Volunteers Wall

Afghan Peace Volunteers Wall

Visiting Kabul is unsettling. Reuters recently reported  that as many as 700 heavily armed Taliban insurgents were battling Afghan security forces in Logar, a key province very close to Kabul. Local officials said it is a test of the Afghan military’s strength as foreign forces pull out of the country. Reuters: Hundreds of Taliban Fighters Battle Afghan Forces Near Kabul – Officials… Ahmad Sultan, Tue Aug 19, 2014

Families of several Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) live in Wardak, Paktia, and Ghazni, which immediately surround Logar. Some have already lost family members, and it is too dangerous for them to return to visit the ones that remain. One had family coming to Kabul for a long awaited visit and it had to be cancelled because of the escalation; another said he has only seen relatives a couple of times in the past several years.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) postponed cancelled a volunteer trip there in early summer due to insecurity violence surrounding the much disputed Afghan elections. Kathy Kelly and I were the first to return with VCNV. The escalating violence both in Kabul and in the provinces is well documented in an August 18th article Last Tango In Kabul in Rolling Stone, by respected American local reporter, Matthieu Aikins, (The 2014 Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism).

However, one of the APV’s 18 year old Zekerullah, has always lived in an atmosphere of fear, and his is a story of courage, strength and nonviolent resistance that deeply inspired me. Hakim first saw him when he was in the Bamiyan bazaar selling cigarettes and pens that he carried in a platform around his neck.

When Zekerullah was young and going to school, he would work half the day, sometimes fetching fuel from great distances with a donkey, and sometimes doing construction work. In the evenings, he’d be completely exhausted, but if he missed doing his homework, his teacher would use a wooden stick to hit the back of his hand with ten strokes, increasing the punishment by ten each day. As a child, Zekerullah was afraid from the moment he stepped into the school until he left, wondering how many beatings he would face that day.

He was hit ten, then twenty, then thirty, then forty, then fifty, then sixty times in one day by his teacher! On the day when it would have been seventy, he ran away from school and did not return until this last year when he entered seventh eighth grade at the age of 17.  He has learned much in the intervening years, and now returns to graduate. He excels. In his current school, however, the practice of beating students who have not completed homework, or do not have answers in class, still continues, as it did in Bamiyan.

Zekerullah donating blood for war victims

Zekerullah donating blood for war victims

Zekerullah is no longer afraid, and has a remarkable commitment to nonviolence. Recently, 12 of Zekerullah’s classmates, who had not completed homework, were told to go to the front of the room, and line up for their beating. Unsolicited, Zek, who had done the work, joined them. When the teacher moved down the row with his stick, administering the punishment, Zekerullah asked the teacher to give him all the blows that were intended for the remaining 7 students who were standing in the row after him. The startled teacher, who knew Zek had the answers, questioned why. Zekerullah’s spoke about his deep belief, from personal experience, that students do not learn by beatings, and that he was four years behind in his education because he had been beaten.

Teachers in Afghanistan are not used to nonviolent resistance and, angry at being challenged, this teacher forcefully administered ten blows. When it happened again, fewer students were called to the front, but Zekerullah joined them, repeating his belief in nonviolence. This time the teacher went to the principal to get a cane, to administer even more painful blows.

A third time, no students were called to the front, but the teacher failed Zekerullah, who knows much more than the assigned material, on the midterm exam. Undaunted, Zek’s resistaence continues, and the other students are witnessing an incredible lesson in nonviolence.

 From Afghanistan, Love Can Open Every Border   youtu.be/DD0Jqug7Mvo

Zekerullah, a Hazara, has learned this practice at the Borderfree  Community Center of Nonviolence. He doesn’t know of any other group in Afghanistan where Tajiks, Hazaras and Pashtoons are living together. He’d grown up thinking Tajiks and Pashtoons conspired to massacre the Hazaras. He hated and feared them, and it was unthinkable to mix with them. It was even more unimaginable to mix with foreigners—infidels—non-believers.  Now he knows all of these as friends.

Another big change for him, since joining the Community, is that he hadn’t ever understood what real peace is. He doesn’t recall it being mentioned in Afghan government schools, and conversation in Bamiyan where he grew up centered around war, and who was killed. Because of this experience he asked to send a message to young US students who might be thinking about enlisting in the military:  “Don’t do it. Don’t even join the police.  We have seen what militarism does. Wars have only one result: death. Don’t join.”

Kids receiving food

Kids receiving food

His story demonstrates the high value Zekerullah places on education, and he believes it is the most important priority for the Borderfree Center. Many Afghan children don’t have the opportunity to become literate, and develop to their full potential. He understands, though, from his hard work on the streets, that children must be fed adequately in order to learn. He has taken that insight and become a leader in the Street Kids program, where impoverished children, who regularly attend classes in reading, Dari (their language) and math, receive monthly allocations of cooking oil and rice for their families. I was delighted to see their enthusiasm in these classes at the center, and their hunger for learning.

ZekerullahZekerullah shared his two key sources of motivation. He believes Afghans need to be taking action, doing something, and surmounting their fears. Internationals, once infidels, now friends, encourage him and the team, and strengthen his conviction. However, I have personally never seen such an inspiring example of nonviolent resistance, and Zekerullah has given me great hope for the possibility of a new Afghanistan!

Sherri Maurin
August 28, 2014
Kabul, Afghanistan

Posted in Afghanistan, Afghanistan 2014, Peace Journeys, Sherri Maurin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Depression: Pathways to Resilience & Recovery

Saturday, September 13, 2014
9am-3:15pm
Cole Hall, UCSF Parnassus Campus
513 Parnassus Ave., SF
Open to the public: FREE
415 476-7755
psych.ucsf.edu/events/depression2014

Depression Pathways to Resilience Recovery 09/21/14

Depression Pathways to Resilience Recovery 09/21/14

Message from the UCSF Depression Center Director

Robin Williams’ recent death highlights the importance of recognizing that depression is a serious and often life-threatening illness. Estimates are that one in six Americans will suffer a mood disorder during their lifetime. Up to 80% of deaths by suicide can be traced to these disorders. If recognized in time, we know that many of these conditions can respond to appropriate treatment and prevent these tragedies. It is time to intensify our education, research, and treatment capabilities for these disorders.

— Stuart J. Eisendrath, MD

Presentations

  • Hope On The Golden Gate Bridge Sgt Kevin Briggs & Kevin Berthia
  • Hollywood: Depression Behind The Scenes David Zucker

Workshops

  • Advances in Treatment of Depression
  • Depression’s impact on Relationships and Relationships’ Impact on Depression
  • Finding a Partner in Recovery: Access to Care
  • Mindfulness Approaches to Depression
  • Online Tools for Assessment and Treatment
  • Suicide Prevention: Talking with Someone at Risk
  • Clinicians Corner: From Selves to Cells: The New Biology of Cells, Illness and Depression
  • Strategies to Support Your Loved One and Yourself

Directions

 

Posted in Event, Health, Meeting, PTSD, San Francisco, Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alarm & Analysis In Afghanistan: Reflections By Kathy Kelly & Sherri Maurin

August 31, 2014
Kabul, Afghanistan

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly

During the summer of 2014, Kathy Kelly with Voices For Creative Nonviolence, and Sherri Maurin, an educator and Campaign Nonviolence representative from the San Francisco Bay Area, lived in a working class neighborhood in Kabul, as guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Througout those hot summer months, fighting increased dramatically in Afghanistan. Kabul was “a bubble,” but now Kelly and Maurin hear of rising alarm on the part of their friends and their families who fear that combinations of warlords, drug lords, criminal gangs and Taleban fighters will take advantage of the void in governance which seems likely to follow a failed election. Matthieu Aikins chronicles these very real concerns in this August 18th Rolling Stone article “Last Tango In Kabul.”

Afghan Peace Volunteers

Afghan Peace Volunteers

However, the Afghan Peace Volunteers are resolved not to let war sever the bonds of friendship between themselves, as an interethnic group, and the internationals whom they’ve befriended since 2010. Steadily calling for a “cease-fire,” the Afghan Peace Volunteers believe that maintaining special operations forces and drone warfare in Afghanistan will prolong and exacerbate the war. They also call for a cease fire on the part of all the warring parties and believe that every country which has invaded Afghanistan should pay reparations for suffering caused.

Instead of conducting continued drone strikes and pursuing more military solutions to world conflicts, the United States and other powerful nations of the world should take responsibility for their past war crimes and destruction in countries like Afghanistan,” says Kelly. “One way to approach atonement would be to provide reparations, dispersed by an independent body such as the United Nations general assembly. Reparations could fund projects decided on by local communities and might take the form of food aid, water filtration, housing construction, soil renewal, sanitation, mine disarmament, or medical outreach.

Afghan Peace Volunteer with Sherri Maurin

Afghan Peace Volunteer with Sherri Maurin

Maurin concludes: The Afghan Peace Volunteers model nonviolent direct responses for us. In addition to forming an inter-ethnic communities to expand cross-cultural ties, they provide math and literacy skills as well as needed food to impoverished street children and their families, stand up against violence in schools where corporal punishment is a teaching standard, and organize new approaches to the environment through neighborhood clean ups. Following extensive training in nonviolence, particularly studying Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Badshah Khan, the APVs have joined Sikhs, Hindus and peoples of other faiths for continuing Interfaith dialogues. They will later be visiting towns throughout Afghanistan to share their message of nonviolence. These are the ways to a nonviolent peaceful world that will never be achieved through drone warfare and special operations forces.

Sherri Maurin

Sherri Maurin

Sherri Maurin
Peace Journey
August 31, 2014

Posted in Afghanistan, Afghanistan 2014, Peace Journeys, San Francisco Chapter, Sherri Maurin, Veterans For Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Day Of Peace

Celebrate The Right Of Peoples To Peace
Sunday, September 21, 2014
4:30-6:30 Informational Booths
5:30-6:30 No Host Cocktail Hour
6:30 Dinner, Introductions, Raffle, Presentations
$30
Grace Evangelical Luthern Church
3201 Ulloa St., San Francisco
Contact: Latonia Dixon, lionlatonia.1@gmail.com

The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in acombat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. In 2013, for the first time, the Day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably. Read more…

PRESENTATIONS AND SPEAKERS Continue reading

Posted in Event, Meeting, Peace Journeys, San Francisco | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mental Health/Homeless Summit

MH-Homeless-VetExpanding Partnerships & Resources To Improve The Lives Of Veterans & Their Family Members
Friday, August 29
8am-4:30pm
New Federal Building, ground floor
90 Seventh Street, San Francisco
Contact: Dr. Jennifer Boyd 415 221-4810 x342, jennifer.boyd@va.gov

 

VA Health CareBring together organizations that serve Veterans, to strengthen partnerships between the VA and the community.
Enhance access to Mental Health and Homeless services for Veterans and their families in San Francisco and northern San Mateo counties.

Agenda: Continue reading

Posted in Event, Health, Meeting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam & the US

San Francisco-Ho Chi Minh City Sister City Committee (SFHCMSSC)
Agent Orange Update
Wednesday, August 27, 5:30 pm, Free
Light Refreshments
RSVP: 415 447-6075, sfhcmcscc@aol.com
City Hall, Mayor’s Conference Room #201
1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco

San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

Agent Orange — a defoliant used during the Vietnam War was manufactured by Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto Corporation for use by the US Military. It was shipped to Vietnam in orange striped containers and thus the chemical was branded “Agent Orange.” The chemical was highly dangerous and was found in some locations to be hundreds of times greater than levels considered safe by the US EPA. It has been reported that as many as 3 million Vietnamese have been affected by Agent Orange. According to some sources, it still impacts the people of Vietnam. It also has affected Veterans of the US Military and the Vietnamese Military. Continue reading

Posted in Agent Orange, Health, San Francisco, Veterans, Veterans For Peace, Viet Nam, VietNam, Voices Of Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Operation Light at the End of the Tunnel

Chuck Searcy A Presentation & Conversation
Thursday, September 4
6pm Registration
6:30 pm Program/Wine Reception
Marines Memorial Club, 609 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Free Event: Must pre-register

Vietnam War veteran Chuck Searcy has lived in Vietnam for the last nearly 20 years. He started and works with Project Renew, a de-mining operation in Quang Tri Province (the northern-most province of what was South Vietnam, and perhaps the most heavily bombed chunk of land in history. Tens of thousands of tons of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) still lie in the land of Vietnam, and approximately 100,000 people have been killed or maimed by exploding leftovers since the end of the war. Continue reading

Posted in San Francisco Chapter, Agent Orange, Veterans For Peace, Event, Viet Nam, VietNam, San Francisco, Veterans, Veterans For Peace Viet Nam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post 8: Sherri Maurin On Privilege & Courage

August 18, 2014
Kabul
Afghanistan

I came to Afghanistan through the generous and loving support of family and friends. I could not be having this invaluable experience without their shared participation. It is a profound privilege to be representing them, and each of you, on this journey of solidarity and education.

I have been reflecting quite a bit about “privilege” on many levels since my arrival 12 days ago. We talk about “simple living” in the United States but even those who have chosen to live more closely to the poor typically have continual access to electricity, refrigeration, running water, laundromats and frequently washers and dryers in our own homes. Virtually all have stoves and TVs and most have some sort of transportation—cars, bicycles, or a pass on Muni or BART. I am personally grateful for all of these amenities.

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly cooking dinner

This radical change in simple functions of daily living is the first things I notice being here in the women’s community. We bath with one or two pitchers of cold water in a concrete walled small room with a hole in the floor (actually I am enjoying how refreshing it is in the constant heat of summer but wonder how well I would do in the freezing cold winter months). Cleaning is done with brooms; laundry is all by hand, and hung in the summer sun to quickly dry; cooking is on a small gas burner, after chopping is done on plates while sitting on the floor. The room used to prepare meals has no stove or sink. And, this life in Kabul, where we live in community, is actually so much easier than in any of the villages the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) come from. I have adapted easily, but I am not sure I would in the countryside where life is so much more difficult. Continue reading

Posted in Afghanistan, Afghanistan 2014, Peace Journeys, Sherri Maurin, Veterans For Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment