Okay, I admit it. When first invited to attend the Defend Freedom Tour sponsored by an organization called Concerned Veterans for America, I was extremely skeptical about the message I would be hearing. I imagined a bunch of veterans sitting around bashing our Government, Obamacare, and the National Debt. I imagined a personality-driven, Left-verses-Right tirade of hot air spewing into the audience. With my imagination running wild and without any investigation of the Defend Freedom Tour or the Concerned Veterans for America organization, I decided not to attend. My decision not to attend was not because I am not passionate about my country or concerned about what is happening within our country. I decided not to attend because I didn't want to hear anymore "political spin." Then a few days before the tour came to Louisville, I read that Dakota Meyer would be speaking. As a disabled veteran, I hold a lot of respect for those who are recipients of our Nation's highest award for Valor: the Medal of Honor. I wanted to hear Sgt. Meyer speak, so I registered and attended the event.
My imaginings were wrong...dead wrong!
From the moment Pete Hagsleth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and Bronze Star recipient stood to speak, I realized I had underestimated this grassroots movement. I had thought of it as just another group of "spin doctors" willing to manipulate the emotions of the masses. However, the Defend Freedom Tour is about solidarity. It is calling for veterans from all military services to stand united and to honor their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. "Our commitment to defend the Constitution didn't end when our tour of duty ended," Hagsleth said. With 26 million veterans in the United States, Hagsleth called for veterans to stand united and to speak with one voice in order to preserve the freedoms we fought to maintain. The message became immediately clear to me. This movement is not about the past. This movement is not about casting blame. This movement is about the future of our country and the need for we veterans to become active in the governing process. Hence the tagline, "Honor Service, Take Action."
After Hagsleth's introduction of the evening events, several speakers mounted the podium to make their appeals for veteran solidarity. Those speakers included two Gold Star Mothers who's sons were killed in action, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Steve Russell the Task Force 1-22 Commander that tracked and found Saddam Hussein and author of the book WE GOT HIM!, and Sgt. Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient.
After the event, I talked with Pete Hagsleth about veterans with TBI's and their increased risk of developing Post Traumatic Epilepsy and about the gap in services between the time a veteran is medically retired and that veteran getting into the VA system. He was genuinely concerned and requested more information.
When I left the Defend Freedom Tour event, I felt really good because this is a movement that is interested in doing the right things for the right reasons and remaining honorable in both our service and our action. I wholehearted recommend that all veterans become a part of this important movement in our nation.
By the way if you are interested in reading Lt. Col. Russell's book, "WE GOT HIM!," Operation Outreach has an autographed copy for charity auction on eBay. Proceeds will go to Kentucky Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Post Traumatic Epilepsy for both assistance and advocacy. Click here for the eBay link to this book.
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