by Sue Wolinsky, Family Member (IL Army National Guard)
NM VFP Chapter 63 named for Sally-Alice and Donald Thompson
Sally-Alice Thompson and her late husband, Donald, were founders of the Albuquerque Chapter 63 of Veterans for Peace in 1988. That was just three years after the national organization was formed by 10 U.S. veterans in response to the global nuclear arms race and U.S. military interventions in Central America, according to the VFP website. The chapter was named for Sally-Alice and Donald because of their courageous peace advocacy throughout their lifetimes. Like Sally-Alice, Donald was known for his relentless political activism, which included running for office several times, according to his June 2, 2011 obituary in The Albuquerque Journal.
Though Chapter 63 initially was only in Albuquerque, it has branched out to other areas in New Mexico. Now it has ~70 members in Albuquerque, Socorro and Winston (near Truth or Consequences). The group meets monthly.
FOCUS ON VETERANS: “More than half of our members are veterans,” said Bill Tiwald, Chapter 63 Secretary who has been a chapter member since 2017 and a peace activist for decades. “Veterans make the best peace advocates.” One of the national organization’s goals is to heal the wounds of war, which has veterans-centric projects focusing on Iraq, Agent Orange, and homelessness. In addition, Chapter 63 supports U.S. military veterans who have been expelled from the U.S. as a result of former President Trump’s policies. Many were not citizens; they joined the military as a path to citizenship. We’re also concerned that VA health care has been starved; our veterans have been told to seek private health care. We feel that veterans have unique health needs that the average practitioner can’t treat,” Tiwald continued. “We support Save our VA (SOVA), too.”
In mid-February, the local chapter demonstrated to keep the U.S. out of war with Russia over the Ukraine situation. “No War with Russia” signs were hoisted in the courthouse area in downtown Albuquerque.
The group‘s priorities (as written by the chapter) are:
- Supporting the congressionally reauthorized Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) for our 1945 Trinity Test A-Bomb victims and victims of uranium mining and milling.
- Stopping the plutonium bomb factory in Los Alamos, NM.
- Stopping nuclear waste shipments to Los Alamos and NM.
- Requiring that the up to 60,000 barrels of radioactive waste above ground and buried at Los Alamos and San Ildefonso Pueblo be disposed of safely.
- Opposing the unnecessary wars and militarism.
- Working for nuclear disarmament.
- Working with other organizations assuring that Black lives, Red lives and Brown lives Matter.
- Restoring the Veterans Administration Traditional Health System through the Save Our VA program.
- Sponsoring high school essay contests concerning the costs of war on communities and the environment.
- Work to reverse Climate Change.