Veterans for Peace will hold a peace walk through the state called the Maine Walk for Peace, Human Needs and Veterans’ Care from Nov. 2-11.

The walk will begin in Farmington Tuesday, Nov. 2, with an election night program that will remind the public of the current costs of war, no matter which political party controls Congress. Most evenings during the walk a program and discussion session will be held at a local church or school.

For full walk schedule and registration information see http://vfpmaine.org/vfp.htm.

The walk will be led by Buddhist monk the Rev. Gyoway Kato, who is with the Nipponzan Myohoji order that does peace walks all over the world. Last April Kato led a similar walk through Maine, calling for an end to the nuclear arms race.

VFP intends to remind the public that thousands of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma are being redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicides in the military have reached an all-time high.

The peace walk will also focus on the environmental costs of war. From the defoliation of the forests in Vietnam to the oil fires of Kuwait and Iraq, all major wars in the high-tech age, including current conflicts like Afghanistan, have had an unacknowledged casualty: the environment. Unexploded weapons, polluted rivers, contaminated soil and damaged landscapes have all harmed human health, local economies and ecosystems.

“The purpose of this walk, at least for me, is to listen to my neighbors’ stories about the impact of these wars on their families and their hometowns. I want to walk, to bear witness, to listen and then to put their stories into the public dialogue about war. I want
to give voice to those whose voices have not been heard,” said Maine VFP founding member Doug Rawlings of Farmington.

The peace walk will come to Belfast Saturday, Nov. 6, and to Rockland Sunday, Nov. 7. VFP will participate in the Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11 in Portland

Since 2001 Maine taxpayers have paid $2.8 billion for the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nation is presently spending $8 billion a month on the Afghanistan war. VFP contends that this enormous spending on war, forcing cutbacks in education, health care, infrastructure and social spending, is a major contributing factor to the economic collapse in 45 states across the nation.

The peace walk will average 16 miles of actual walking each day — because of the great distances between stops, occasional shuttling will be necessary. Some people will walk the entire distance and others will join the walk for an hour, or a day, or several days. The public is invited to join the discussion.