Vets for Freedom chapters

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This article is part of the SourceWatch coverage of Vets for Freedom (VFF) and
Vets for Freedom Action Fund (VFF-AF).
Related articles:

Vets for Freedom launched its first chapters in Ohio and Minnesota, on July 31, 2007. According to an August 14, 2007, viral email,[1] executive director Pete Hegseth wrote that VFF "stood up State Chapters in 26 states" and next week plans to "formally announce 5 additional State Chapters."

Vets for Freedom chapters "fight back"

On August 9, 2007, executive director Pete Hegseth told the Washington Times' Eric Pfeiffer that VFF "will announce 25 state 'captains' — Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans who will lead a grass-roots effort to win back some measure of support for the war. They will recruit fellow veterans to attend town hall meetings hosted by senators during the summer recess."[2]

An August 11, 2007, VFF news release stated that[3] "Twenty-five state chapters were also stood up to counter the waves of misinformation about Iraq sponsored by ...

"State Captains will fan out across the state recruiting veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to write op-eds and letters to the editor, attend town hall meetings, and meet directly with their Senators and Representatives."[3]

"Veteran volunteers will stand toe-to-toe with, and Code Pink over the next two months in a battle over whether America will success or failure in Iraq," the news release stated.[3]

"Paid activists from or Code Pink will scream, chant, and bully members of Congress in August," Hegseth said in an August 8, 2007, news release. "But Vets for Freedom will use our experience-as veterans who have seen this war-to explain how we can win in Iraq and why we cannot afford to fail. No amount of screaming can overwhelm facts."[4]

National leadership team

Joel A. Arends is cited in an August 14, 2007, e-letter as VFF National Field Director.[5]

The following are included on the list of the names for its National Leadership Team.[6]



VFF announced the launch of its Arkansas chapter on August 17, 2007, whose chairman is Jacob Cooke of Centerton, a sergeant with the Army Reserve’s 467th Engineer Battalion, based in Memphis."[8]


Jeremy Christiansen of Oakley, California, who "served in the Army Reserves from 1997 to 2005, including a tour in Iraq from 2003 to 2004", is VFF's "California state coordinator".[9]

A Jeremy Christiansen is a member of the Contra Costa Republican Party Central Committee for District 5.[10]


[Sergeant] Melissa Weaver, of Colchester, Conn., who "served in Baghdad in 2003-04 as a member of the 143rd Military Police Co. of the Connecticut Army National Guard",[11][6] and is spokeswoman for Connecticut’s chapter of the national Vets for Freedom", told the New Haven Register's Abbe Smith in a phone interview that "now is not the time to drop everything and pull troops out of Iraq.

"'We all definitely don't want to be there forever, but it would be a much better tribute to our fallen soldiers to get the job done right and leave with our heads high,' she said.

"Weaver said Army Gen. David Petraeus is making progress on the ground in Iraq and should be given more time to get the job done. Vets for Freedom includes about 7,000 U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan," Smith wrote August 29, 2007.[12]

Weaver participated in the September 2006 VFF political TV ad in support of former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, who now calls himself an Independent.[13][14][15] See Vets for Freedom: Opposing John Murtha and Supporting Joe Lieberman.


VFF launched its Minnesota chapter on July 31, 2007.[16] David Thul, "a recently returned Iraq veteran from Owatonna, MN will serve as MN's chairman."[17]

Note: An August 9, 2007, blog posting[18] cites U.S. Army (Ret.) LTC Michael A. Bauman, who retired in October 2005, as Minnesota state chairman.[19]

In a July 16, 2007, call to action update, executive director Pete Hegseth wrote that VFF "is coordinating with both Families United[20] and Appeal for Courage to ensure maximum effectiveness" at the July 17, 2007, VFF rally in Washington, D.C..[21]

"Hegseth said the group planned to focus its efforts on 'wobbly Republicans' like Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Norm Coleman of Minnesota. All three lawmakers have largely abandoned their earlier support for the war and are now calling for a new U.S. strategy for Iraq and the beginnings of a military withdrawal from the country," Yochi J. Dreazen reported July 16, 2007, in the Washington Wire.[22]


Brandan Mueller is VFF chairman for Missouri.[23]


It was announced on August 8, 2007, that the "new local leaders" of Vets for Freedom are Brian Bresnahan, "an Iraq war veteran from Benedict," and Carl Hartmann, "an Iraq war veteran from Omaha. They will be contacting other local veterans from the state, asking them to contact their Senators and Representatives with their message of support for the current strategy in Iraq.

Bresnahan said:[24]

"The disconnect between what is reported in the mainstream media and what I saw first hand is incredible. I now see it as my duty to do everything possible to spread the word about what is actually happening in Iraq, and explain while General Petraeus's strategy has us on the right track there."

Note: The cited article inaccurately named Brian Breshahan.

New Jersey

In an August 28, 2007, statement emailed to the press, Iraq war veteran Vince Micco announced that he "is leading New Jersey's chapter of Vets for Freedom.[25]


VFF launched its Ohio chapter on July 31, 2007[26], "to educate Members of Congress and fellow citizens about the need to support the U.S. mission in Iraq. The effort will begin with a grassroots campaign of veterans speaking out in support of General Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy, which is already showing strong signs of progress."

An August 6, 2007, VFF news release stated[27] that VFF's "grassroots effort in Ohio is a direct challenge to's 'Iraq Summer,' which depends on the deployment of political activists from Washington, DC. The Ohio leadership team will organize and mobilize local Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to ensure members of Congress know that most soldiers and Marines want to finish their mission in Iraq."

Lt. Lee Crognale, VFF's Ohio State Chair, "will be supported by state Captain Nathan Martin organizing veterans from around Ohio"[27] to "contact their Senators and Representatives and to share their support for the mission with their fellow citizens from around the state."[26]

Ohio is the home state to House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner who, on May 9, 2007, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), received a petition "signed by 2,700 current and former service members in support of continuing U.S. combat operations in Iraq" from Appeal for Courage, an organization supported by VFF,[28] Rick Maze reported May 8, 2007, in the Army Times.[29] "Boehner and Graham will "use the event as another opportunity to criticize Democrats who control the House and Senate for trying to impose a withdrawal timetable on Iraq combat operations," Maze wrote.

It should also be noted that 11 of 18 Congressional seats in Ohio are currently held by Republican incumbents, including Boehner. Only 7 are held by Democrats, including presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. All are up for re-election in the 2008 congressional elections.[30]


"The Vets for Freedom leadership team in Virginia will be responsible for organizing local veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to contact their Senators and Representatives and to share their support for the mission with their fellow Virginians. Jim Murrary, Iraq war veteran from Falls Church, Virginia and Michael Husband, Iraq war veteran from Arlington, Virginia, will serve as the state co-chairs," VFF announced August 9, 2007.[31]

Note: The preceding was quoted from a VFF news release, which states that both "Jim Murrary" and Michael Husband are "Iraq war" veterans. A September 18, 2007, edit by User:VirginiaVets changed "Jim Murrary" to "Jim Murray", "Iraq war" veteran to "GWOT" veteran, and that Husband is from "Alexandria, Virginia" and not from "Arlington, Virginia". No information was provided disproving the VFF news release.

"'Veterans come back to the United States and are shocked by the surreal and illogical arguments made by those who want us to flee Iraq' said Murray. 'What people hear back home, and what soldiers see with our own eyes, are radically different, and it’s time people hear the other side of the story.'"[31]


CPO, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Robin L. "Buck" Torske[32][33] is the "Washington state chairman of the conservative group Vets for Freedom, which claims about 200 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in Washington ..."[34]

On June 3, 2007, Torske wrote a letter to the editor of The Olympian:[35]

"Another Memorial Day in Olympia, 'An All American City.' From my house off of East Bay Drive, to my daughter’s place off Lilly Road — I counted a total of 13 flags displayed from homes and businesses — and that includes a fire station AND a VFW hall.
"Thank you — not! — for all of the remembrance and support you give to the men and women who have put it all on the line, died, been maimed and sacrificed for you. Hope you enjoyed your long weekend.
"Think nothing of it, glad to have helped and all that. Sure was big of you to show — nothing. ... Robin Torske, Olympia."

Resources and articles


  1. Pete Hegseth,"Vets for Freedom: WEEK 6: 'Cost of Defeat' Call-in Campaign," Vets for Freedom (; aggregated from 'Wake Up America'), August 14, 2007.
  2. Eric Pfeiffer, "Veterans campaign to continue Iraq surge," Washington Times (World Peace Herald), August 9, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pete Hegseth, "Vets for Freedom fights back against," Vets for Freedom, August 11, 2007.
  4. Pete Hegseth, "Vets for Freedom Launches Ads in Four States, Fights Back Against," Vets for Freedom, August 8, 2007.
  5. "Letter from Vets for Freedom," Cedar River Salmon Blogspot.
  6. 6.0 6.1 About, Vets for Freedom, accessed August 14, 2007.
  7. Darrin Mortenson, "Postcards from the front: Camp Pendleton Marines write to loved ones," North County Times (Free Republic), May 5, 2004: "1st Lt. Eric "Thor" Thorleifson, 24, of Lake Stevens, Washington".
  8. Andy Davis, "‘Don’t surrender’ in Iraq, vets urge Pryor in TV ad," Arkansas Democrat Gazette (NWA News (Northwest Arkansas)), August 17, 2007.
  9. Contessa Abono, "Vets go up another Hill," Brentwood Press (Calif.), September 14, 2007.
  10. Committee, Contra Costa Republican Party Central Committee, accessed September 14, 2007.
  11. Comment, Hartford Courant (cache file), July 23, 2007.
  12. Abbe Smith, "Dozens on Green protest war, Bush," New Haven Register, August 29, 2007.
  13. Mark Pazniokas, "'Vets' Ad For Lieberman Called 'Swift-Boating'," Hartford Courant (CT) (Free Republic), September 7, 2006.
  14. News Release: "Iraq Veterans Air Pro-Lieberman TV Ad in Connecticut," Vets for Freedom Action Fund, September 5, 2006.
  15. "Vets for Freedom Action Fund Unveils New Lieberman Ad; National Leadership Team," Vets for Freedom Leadership Fund, September 25, 2006.
  16. News Release: "Vets for Freedom to Unveil Ad Thanking Senator Coleman for Support of Iraq Mission," Vets for Freedom, July 31, 2007.
  17. "Vets for Freedom,", July 31, 2007.
  18. Michael Mannske, "Town Hall Meeting: Part II," FreedomDogs Blog, August 9, 2007.
  19. website.
  20. Shrek's Mom, "Families United Call to Action - United for a Strong America!" DoD Daily News-2 Blogspot, July 13, 2007.
  21. Pete Hegseth, "Vets for Freedom: Call to Action Update," Vets for Freedom; posted online by Snooper at Take Our Country Back Blogspot, July 16, 2007.
  22. Yochi J. Dreazen, "War Supporters Call in Reinforcements," Washington Wire Blog/Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2007.
  23. "Give More Back, Claire," The Source Blog, September 13, 2007.
  24. "Vets for Freedom forms Nebraska chapter, launches anti-Nelson TV campaign," The Beatrice Fiddler, August 9, 2007.
  25. Herb Jackson, "Rutherford vet leads 'pro-victory' group," Capital Games, August 28, 2007.
  26. 26.0 26.1 News Release: "Vets for Freedom stands up Ohio leadership team," Vets for Freedom, July 31, 2007.
  27. 27.0 27.1 News Release: Vets for Freedom Announces Ohio Leadership Team," Vets for Freedom, August 6, 2007 (posted August 13, 2007, by Conservative Culture Blog). Note: Lee Crognale is available for interviews at 740-816-1621 or CrognaleL AT BATTELLE.ORG, and Nathan Martin is available at nathanmartin25 AT, or at 419-632-6483.
  28. Supporting Organizations, Appeal for Courage website.
  29. Rick Maze "Appeal for Courage takes petition to Congress," Army Times, Marine Corps Times, Air Force Times, and Navy Times, May 8, 2007.
  30. "Ron Gunzberger's Online Guide: Ohio,"
  31. 31.0 31.1 Jerry Fuhrman, "A message for Senator Warner," From On High Blog, August 9, 2007.
  32. NBC local journalist in Baghdad, "Lost: The ability to dream," Blogging Baghdad/MSNBC, July 13, 2006. Torske commented: "Hopelessness is exactly what this is, and you the 'mainstream' press have ensured it. Nice work. ... By your negativism and hatred of your own country, you've infected the body of this nation and now we're doomed to die. ... And I can't help but comment on your 'policy' in this venue of 'not attacking' the author's views. Now that's (leftist) 'Freedom of Speech'! That ought to keep everything your way for sure."
  33. Thurston County Elections: September 20, 2005 Primary Election, Statistics and Sample Ballot, Washington. Torske, listed as "Nonpartisan", ran for City Council, Position No. 5, in the City of Olympia, Washington. Torske received "No Endorsement" from Freedom Vote, "the Thurston County candidate rating organization working to identify candidates for public office who are supportive of legal and social equality for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, herein referred to as 'glbt.'"
  34. Kathie Durbin, "Baird's Iraq stance stirs passions," The Columbian, August 30, 2007.
  35. Robin Torske, Letters to the Editor, The Olympian, June 3, 2007.