Just around the time VoteVets.org – the nation’s largest progressive veterans group (now with over 400,000 supporters) – was launched, a conservative counterpart called Vets for Freedom was launched.
Unlike VoteVets, Vets for Freedom, headed by Army Veteran Pete Hegseth (and FOX News contributor), argued that the war in Iraq was necessary and that a surge of troops would win the conflict decisively. VoteVets argued that the war in Iraq was not wise to launch and that a surge of troops would merely keep the cork on the bottle until we left (something that we today know is true, with the rise of ISIS and raging sectarian violence).
These two organizations were frequently pitted against each other on television. The debates, while often very heated and with a lot of yelling over each other, were honest. Pete didn’t hide the fact that he was there to advocate for neoconservatives, and I was honest about representing those opposed to their worldview as it pertained to the use of our military. After Vets for Freedom folded, and after having run unsuccessfully for Senate as a Republican, Pete Hegseth got bankrolled by the Koch brothers to start up a new group, Concerned Veterans for America.
Behind closed doors, Hegseth is quite honest about the fact that the Koch organization “literally created” the group that he heads. (See items below). Yet, in public, Concerned Veterans for America isn’t at all honest about who they are and who they support. They consistently represent themselves as a non-ideological group, just looking out for veterans. That’s not correct.
The group promotes proposals that are extremely conservative in nature, and indeed, often opposed by every major Veterans Service Organization (VSO). Whether it is their plan to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs or to move Military Retirement to a private 401(k) – type system, Concerned Veterans for America stands strongly opposed to what nearly every major veterans group has worked so hard for.
In this way, Concerned Veterans for America is a piece of the movement pushing the radical conservative agenda embraced by the Kochs and others. That agenda is the dismantling of any and all government programs that help care for people (even if those people fought for us in uniform) in order to reward the richest of the rich, corporations, and Wall Street.
VoteVets is honest about being America’s largest progressive veterans group and supporting progressive policies. It’s in virtually every press release we send out and clearly stated on our website. Concerned Veterans for America should be honest about representing the people who support dismantling programs that care for our elderly, our poverty-stricken, our children, and even our veterans.
Pete Hegseth, to Koch Brothers Freedom Partners Summit: “Concerned Veterans For America Is An Organization This Network Literally Created.” According to a speech Pete Hegseth gave at a Koch brothers’ summit, “Concerned Veterans for America is an organization this network literally created.” [Pete Hegseth Speech – Koch Brothers’ Summit via YouTube,6/16/14]
Hegseth: “I Thank Charles And David” For Making CVA Possible.” According to a speech Pete Hegseth gave at a Koch brothers’ summit, “I thank Charles and David […] everyone that puts in the sweat equity that makes this possible.” [Pete Hegseth Speech – Koch Brothers’ Summit via YouTube, 6/16/14]
WBNS – 10TV Ohio: CVA’s VA Idea Was “Similar To School Vouchers.” According to WBNS – 10TV, “The idea is similar to school vouchers. Parents get public money to pay for either public or private school. The idea would be the same for the VA: allowing patients to see either public or private doctors.” [10tv.com, 3/30/15]
One-Fifth Of Future Veterans Would Not Be Eligible For VA Care Under The CVA Plan. According to USA Today, “Nearly one-fifth of future veterans those in the lowest VA benefit levels, Priorities 7 and 8 — would not be eligible under the new system.” [USA Today, 2/26/15]