I really appreciated listening to Phillip Butler talk about his life, service, and activism, especially his enthusiasm for the Veterans for Peace organization and being President of Chapter 46 for Veterans for Peace. I am actually familiar with the Veterans for Peace, because I worked with the MIIS Veterans Student Club for my Organizational Sustainability (OS) project. My OS group and I attended an event that Veterans for Peace and MIIS Veterans Student Club hosted on the MIIS campus. The event was a Q&A with former U.S Representative Sam Farr. We asked questions regarding the Peace Corps and his experience in Colombia, his political career, and political activism under the Trump Era. When Phillip Butler came to talk about Veterans for Peace, it was great to learn more about Phillip Butler’s life and why he joined the military. It was also incredible to learn how being in the military changed his perspective on war and how he became an agent for peace. During the Vietnam War, he became a POW for 2,855 days. Knowing his experience only goes to show how veterans like him can make great agents for peace because these soldiers know the real cost of war and why peace is necessary.
In addition to learning more about Phillip Butler, I learned more about Veterans for Peace being an international organization and that they allowed nonveterans to join the organization. It was also important to hear from the other two veterans who were present during the Veterans for Peace presentation and why they joined the military. Lastly, it was powerful to listen to one of the veteran’s (Justin Loza) “Bernie or Bust” poem. I also appreciate that the Veterans for Peace protest against wars and asked for a task force addressing torture.
What I learned is that I have greater respect to veterans who challenge the system and question the reasons for war. It also occurred to me that people join the military for many reasons even though I still do not understand why given the issues surrounding Veteran treatment and homelessness. For me, I have always been conflicted about the United States military. First, I do not support war no matter what. Second, my father served in the United States Army as a Latino immigrant and I never got to know him.
Overall, I hope that Veterans for Peace can continue the great work and attempt to try to change the military machine and culture.