A few years ago, the American Legion would say only that the United States must "continue to involve as many nations as possible" in rebuilding Iraq. In July, however, the group's national commander, Paul Morin, derided the Democratic lawmakers' attempt to legislate a withdrawal of US troops as "Operation Turncoat."The reason is obvious.
Likewise, after saying little about the war, VFW officials in recent months have begun to echo some White House arguments -- including the contention that victory in Iraq is essential to battling terrorism.
Others say the groups' vigorous appeal for patience stems from the fact that the bulk of their membership served in Vietnam.Then we get to two interesting new organizations.
"The perception is that we lost the Vietnam War and that is not true," said Kurpius, who is a Vietnam veteran. "That really bothers me. I don't want that to happen to another generation of veterans . . . so we are a little more vocal."
First we have one, Vets For Freedom, in line with the traditional orgs - and has received some significant face-time as of late.
Iraq war veteran 1st Lt. Pete Hegseth served in 2005-06 with the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. Now serving with the New York Army National Guard, Lt. Hegseth is executive director of Vets For Freedom, a nonpartisan group established by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to "educate Americans about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts."Then we have this fluffy little creature, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) named from a guy who has never been in the N6 shop.
It is important that we give [U.S. Iraq commander Army Gen. David] Petraeus the time, the troops and the resources necessary to see his counterinsurgency strategy through. So our "Ten Weeks to Testimony" is really a crystallization of our larger mission, and we are boiling it down to 10 weeks over the summer, leading up to and until Gen. Petraeus reports [to Congress on progress in Iraq] in the middle of September and really mobilizing our veterans to get active in the states and then in Washington, D.C.
We had vets on [Capitol] Hill in July, about 40 of them on very short notice, and in August we are ... empowering them locally to get involved in town hall meetings and writing to [newspaper] editors and really making sure these members [of Congress], while they're home in the August recess, are really hearing from veterans from their local area, who have been there recently and are telling them we need to complete the mission.
"They are choosing to point their organizations in a certain direction, but they have failed to capture the new generation of veterans," said Paul Reickhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has been critical of the Bush administration's war strategy. Reickhoff was an Army platoon commander in Iraq.So, who is Reickoff? Has his org been outspoken? You decide.
Unlike the Legion and VFW, Reickhoff said, his group has not taken a position on the war or the surge strategy. He acknowledged that the American Legion and the VFW both have "tremendous influence," but their recent outspokenness "compromises their ability to advocate on behalf of veterans."
Oh Paul, don't claim to speak for "...the new generation of veterens..." - we are doing fine by ourselves thank you.