After 2 weeks and one day back home, I would love nothing more than to lay my burdens down and go back to being a sheep. But the battle still rages in Iraq, and the blood, sweat, and tears I shed over the last two years would all be in vain if Congress votes to pull our forces out now.
I worked on the Appeal For Courage the last few months that I was in Iraq, and I will continue working with the Appeal. But Vets For Freedom, with LT Pete Hegseth at the helm, has done great work over the last two months in making contacts with Congress and influential people in Washington. I'd love to think that we could sit back and Congress would do the right thing, but just like in the military, sometimes you have to play the game. In this case, playing the game means lobbying Congress, and letting them know that the mission in Iraq is worth finishing, and that the news they see on TV doesn't reflect what we saw on the ground.
To that end, I will be serving as co-chairman for the Minnesota chapter of VFF. The two gentlemen I'll be working with are Lee Salsman, an Air Force vet you may have seen writing and blogging under the pen name Michael Mannske, and Michael Baumann, who was a battalion commander in Iraq, and has been spreading the good word from Iraq at his website, revealingiraq.com.
The mission of VFF is simple, in general terms. Spread the good news coming out of Iraq that the media can't be bothered to cover, and remind everyone that the main threat in Iraq is Al Qaeda, taking their orders from Osama Bin Laden. But the short term mission is more direct and very important-keep the US from retreating from Iraq before the job is done. The irony is that we are so close, with 7 of 18 provinces under Iraqi control and AQI on the run as a result of the surge. But the media keeps telling folks that we are losing in Iraq, and most people still believe what they see on the TV news.
To counteract this, Vets For Freedom is rallying all those who believe in the mission in Iraq, but most specifically OIF/OEF veterans to speak about what they saw. Cindy Sheehan has dominated the anti-war debate for several years because people think she has the moral authority to speak-her son was killed in Iraq-and therefore folks with an opposite view are hesitant to speak against her. As veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, we also have the moral authority to speak out and tell people what we saw. We stood up and fought for the principles we believe in, even if it was in a country thousands of miles from home.
We need Iraq vets to speak up for the mission, and for completing the mission, and coming home with a 'W' in the win column. Iraq vets who would like to join us can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the Vets For Freedom website. We are hoping to have at least one rally in Minnesota before the big rally in DC in September, and we can use your voice. If you know someone who is an OIF vet, please ask them to join the effort.