We are pleased to introduce you to some of the proud members of Veterans For Peace Chapter 180. We invite you to join us in building a culture of peace.
Who Can Join Veterans For Peace?
Veteran Members: Veterans For Peace includes veterans from all eras and tours of duty. Our membership is open to veterans from all countries and service backgrounds.
Associate Members: Friends and family members are also staunch advocates of peace so Veterans For Peace encourages those to join as an Associate member. Find more information on the Veterans For Peace national website.
Eduardo Castro served in the US Army in 1967 and 1968, including a tour of duty in combat in Vietnam during all of 1968. He later earned a BA and MBA from California State University, Fresno and is a long-time activist for peace and social justice issues. He is especially active on the issue of seeking justice for our Deported Veterans who have been exiled from the US and are unable to access their veteran’s benefits. Eduardo also serves with the Fresno Brown Berets, an organization dedicated to community empowerment and resisting all forms of colonialism and imperialism.
Ron Vineyard served in the US Air Force from 1969 to 1973 and was stationed in the Pacific in support of combat operations in Vietnam. A Fresno native, he spent many years in the San Francisco Bay area after his military service. Ron now lives in the community of Coarsegold, California. In addition to his role as treasurer of Chapter 180, he also serves on the board of directors for the Fresno Center For Nonviolence.
Rick Ruzzamenti served in the US Navy Reserve from 1987 to 1993 in a naval construction battalion (the SeaBees) and was activated during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. After spending many years as an electrician in southern California, Rick has relocated to the Central Valley. In 2012, Rick not only donated a kidney to a total stranger, but started a chain to keep paying it forward, resulting in a record 30 people receiving critical kidney transplants, which in total added an additional 270 to 300 years of life to the people in that chain of kindness. He now lives and works in Madera as a pediatric surgical technician. Rick’s “can do” spirit to life saving and activism are infectious, and we are so proud of his example.
Joshua Shurley served in the US Army as an infantryman and ranger from 1993 to 2001 before earning degrees in anthropology and international relations at California State University, Fresno. He later earned a PhD in international relations from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Between 2012 and 2013 Josh conducted field research in East and Central Africa, examining the effects of military interventions on civilians across four countries. In addition to organizing with VFP, he teaches political science at Clovis Community College and serves on the board of directors for the Fresno Center For Nonviolence.
Jackson Shepherd is a 2004 graduate of Sanger High School, after which he joined the Air National Guard. In 2007, he transferred to active duty in the US Army. Jackson then served for three years in the military police, where he was stationed in Germany and did a tour of duty in Afghanistan before leaving the military in 2010. Since returning to the Central Valley, he has earned a BA in psychology and is exploring his interests in sustainable agriculture while working toward the cause of peace and social justice.
Chris Edstrom enlisted in the US Air Force in 1977. As a munitions systems specialist he served at various bases in Asia and Europe until 1997. Toward the end of his career he stumbled across Noam Chomsky’s film “Manufacturing Consent” which completely transformed his view of capitalism and the American neocolonial project. As an advocate for labor he is currently a member of United Domestic Workers 3930 of Madera where he lives with his wife and son.
Matt Prine is an associate member of Chapter 180. At an early age he felt a call to awareness after seeing a short documentary on the Christmas Eve Truce of WW1 as well as being exposed to the writings of the muckrakers of the early 1900s. At that point it became obvious how speaking truth to power was absolutely necessary. After graduating college in San Francisco, Matt went off to work for Lucasfilm to do FX for many films such as Star Wars, Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park, Planet of the Apes and many more. Then it was off to LA to start his own production company to direct and produce a number of documentaries, a comedy web series, and a number of other projects related to both film and design. He now brings his skill set back to the valley after 27 years, with the intention of blasting the truths to power, not just speaking them.
Carli White-Morgan is an associate member of Chapter 180. She lived most of her life in Fresno, Ca, operating a business and working with nonprofit organizations. She is currently working toward a degree in philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and conducting research in international relations on the intersections of military and domestic policing. Much of her work focuses on promoting awareness of the influences of systems on individuals with the goal of inspiring citizens to critically analyze aspects of everyday life.
Jim Doyle served in the US Army from 1968 to 1970, including a tour in Vietnam as a combat infantryman. Since leaving the military, he served as chair of the public affairs committee of Vietnam Veterans of America, and has been a tireless advocate for veteran’s issues. Jim’s life since the military has been in support of not just the official war casualties, but for those who have passed since, be it due to Agent Orange, suicide, addiction, or any number of war-related causes. He has made dozens of trips back to Vietnam over the years in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and healing. Jim continues to push for legislative action on behalf of all victims of war.
Maria Telesco is an associate member of Chapter 180. A retired California nurse and surviving widow of a US Army Korean War veteran, she has spent a lifetime working on issues of criminal justice reform, and is especially known for her activism to end capital punishment. For years, Maria travelled across America and around the world speaking out against the death penalty for organizations such as Amnesty International, and later designed and facilitated a prison ministry program known as Houses of Healing.
Sam Molina enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve in 2008, and has earned a BA in criminology from California State University, Fresno. Sam also serves as the California State Director of Mi Familia Vota, a national civic engagement organization that unites Latino, immigrant, and allied communities to promote social and economic justice through citizenship workshops, voter registration, and voter participation. Under his leadership, Mi Familia Vota California has registered over 40,000 voters, helped in the establishment of citizenship corners in Fresno county libraries, the Fresno USD Dream Center, and also played a pivotal role in helping pass AB918 Voting for All Act. In 2018, he received the esteemed Latinx Community Leader Health Equity Award from the Latino Coalition for Healthy California.
Mary Perich is an associate member of Chapter 180 whose father and three brothers served in the military during wartime. She is a retired teacher and a member of the Fresno branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Mary also volunteers with the Veterans Resource Center at the Fresno County Public Library
Morgan Barnes served in the US Air Force from 1994 to 1998 as a crew chief on specialized EC-130J Commando Solo aircraft. He twice deployed to Europe in support of NATO peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. Since leaving the military, Morgan has had an illustrious career in sales and marketing both in the Midwest and in California. He is now a member of SEIU 1000 and a tireless advocate for children’s issues.
After a stint in the army during the Vietnam era, Hollis Higgins spent a lifetime working to resist war and to build a better world. His roots in the Central Valley run deep. In the aftermath of the first Persian Gulf War, he helped to establish the Fresno Center For Nonviolence in 1992, and is an original member of its board of directors. In addition to his activism, Hollis is a former stage actor. After a career with the City of Fresno, he is enjoying his semi-retirement in the Pacific Northwest. He currently serves as secretary of Veterans For Peace Chapter 35 in Spokane, Washington, where he works on a number of important causes. In addition to being an organizational powerhouse behind VFP’s 2019 annual convention in Spokane, Hollis was instrumental in helping get the Fresno chapter up and running in 2017, and we are grateful for his mentoring and inspiration.