Veterans for Peace Chapter forming in Janesville

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

JANESVILLE—A Veterans for Peace chapter is organizing locally to promote peace.

"This is not an organization where vets get together to socialize and swap war stories. This is a peace advocacy group," said organizer Norm Aulabaugh.

An informational meeting is planned Saturday, May 31, at Hedberg Public Library. At least 10 people need to sign a piece of paper stating they want to establish a chapter in Janesville so it can be submitted to the national organization, Aulabaugh said.

After that, it's up to the chapter to organize. Aulabaugh recommends it follow the national organization's recommended set of bylaws that include having a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.

Then programs can be organized, he said.

Membership would be open to veterans as well as non-veterans, who could join as associate members.

Aulabaugh, 69, of Orfordville is a Veterans for Peace Wisconsin member at large. He said he has wanted to establish a local chapter for a couple years.

He originally chapter meetings in Madison, but he didn't see much happening there.

His vision is for the Janesville group is to get involved in activities where the chapter could make a difference and be an advocate for peace through public awareness and peace projects. This would include such things as marching in holiday parades and hosting a Veterans Day program at Peace Park.

In addition to activities honoring vets, Aulabaugh would like to work toward making veterans obsolete.

"Having spent some time in the military, I believe there's better ways to handle confrontations than going to war," said Aulabaugh, who served in the Navy from 1968-72 as a supply corps officer on the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Independence out of Norfolk, Va.

Veterans for Peace provides the platform to do that, he said.

The national organization holds a permanent, nongovernmental organization seat at the United Nations and was the first military veterans' organization invited to be a member of the international Peace Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland.

"If I wear my Vets for Peace T-shirt, people take notice, and when you're speaking to people about fostering peace in this world, they know you're a vet and have a tendency to sit back and listen," he said. "We've been there, done this and there's better alternatives to war."

Aulabaugh believes there is a need for Veterans for Peace chapters nationwide after he learned about a Gallup Poll survey of 60,000 people worldwide who said the United States was the country that was the greatest threat toward world peace.

"That's terrible," he said.

Although Aulabaugh said Veterans for Peace doesn't really differ from other peace groups in the area, it's a niche group because its members would be primarily veterans who would work with other peace groups, including the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

"Veterans for Peace members pledge to use nonviolent means to foster world peace," he said.

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