In December 2005, a group of
friends came together to found Vets for
Freedom, in an effort to tell the American people the
ground truths of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The founders
were decorated combat veterans of these wars, and were frustrated with the way
the media and politicians were portraying these wars to the
American people. The cofounders represented the trigger-pulling
class of today's military and they were not going to stand idly by
as their war was being debated by politicians and pundits who had
little first hand knowledge of the situation on the ground.
Armed with only a website, a few credit cards and some donations
from family and friends, the cofounders began writing op-eds and
appearing on television to represent the view of great majority of
the America military: the troops and veterans of the global war on
terror want to win the war, and we can win the war!
Our first major op-eds were published in the spring of 2006, the
first in the Washington Post, and the next in the
New York Times. These widely read
op-eds led to increased media appearances, and our membership
roster of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans quickly began to
In June 2006, Wade Zirkle, the Executive Director of VFF
and David Bellavia, a fellow cofounder, returned to Iraq as civilian freelance
journalists. It was a groundbreaking experiment where actual combat
veterans of the war were returning to the battlefields on which
they fought. Wade and David's travels took them across Iraq but
their most eye opening experience occurred in Ramadi, where they
were embedded with the the new Iraqi Army. When Wade and David came
home from their trip to Iraq they wrote two controversial articles
about what was happening in Ramadi, which at the time was the most
dangerous city in Iraq. Their articles, in the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Weekly Standard reported that US
and Iraqi forces were jointly creating dozens of combat outposts in
Ramadi in an effort to take back the city from the insurgency,
block by block. It was dubbed the "Oilspot Strategy" by the
coaltion; Wade and David asserted that this plan would succeed in
Anbar Province and could succeed across Iraq. As it turned out, the
Oilspot Strategy of 2006, first implemented by Col Sean McFarland
in Ramadi, wound up being the precusor to the surge strategy in
Vets for Freedom was widely mocked and ridiculed
by the anti-war left for arguing that there actually was a way
forward in Iraq. But Vets for Freedom's
work had just begun. As the criticism poured in, our numbers
continued to grow; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans were signing up by
the thousands to join our movement to communicate our experiences
to the American public.
In August 2006, VFF formed a bipartisan political action
arm to support pro-mission candidates running for re-election.
After Joe Lieberman's stinging 2006 primary defeat to anti-war
candidate Ned Lamont, VFF empowered Connecticut veterans
to support Sen Lieberman on the airwaves. VFF aired two
The commercials bolstered Lieberman's support throughout the
state, and he went on to win re-election in November. VFF
also ran veterans advertising supporting Republican Senator Jim Talent in
Missouri and Democratic Congressman Jim Marshall in
Talent lost his re-election bid. However, Jim Marshall won his by
the slimmest margin of any congressional democrat in 2006 - only
1,702 votes! We were proud to support all three honorable
pro-mission candidates, and it paved the way things to come.
The fall of 2006 was a dark time in Iraq. US casualties and
civilian deaths were reaching all time highs. The media dwelled on
defeat. Washington was feckless. The conventional wisdom was that
the situation in Iraq was spinning hopeessly out of control. It was
during this time a small group of people, including VFF,
began calling for more troops to stabilize Iraq and win the war.
VFF executive Director Wade Zirkle made a 90-second appeal
for 30,000 more troops on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in
Incoming VFF Executive director, Pete Hegseth penned an
op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled "More Troops Please."
Several months later, what is now known as "the surge," was
born. Soon after the situation in Iraq corrected itself and
victory was in sight for the first time since the war began.
Vets for Freedom, the largest Global War on Terror
veteran's advocacy group in the nation continues to lead from the
front and provide one clear, concise voice of the warrior
Vets on The Hill 2007
On Tuesday September
18, 2007, over 250 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans - along with Blue
and Gold star families - took their message to Capitol Hill.
Veterans from 42 states met with over 60 Senators, and over 100
Representatives. The message was simple: support General Petraeus
and America's mission in Iraq.
The trip was a great success. Our voices were heard - and it
appears that, barring any unforeseen developments, Congress will
continue to support General Petraeus's counter-insurgency strategy
- for now. This was the goal of the "10 Weeks to Testimony"
campaign - and together, we accomplished our goal. But as always,
the battle continues.
There were two great pieces written about the event at Human Events &
Pete Hegseth of VFF debates the Iraq war on BBC at London,
In front of
televised audience of over 76 million people and included such
dignitaries as former Prime Minister of Iraq Allawi. Pete Hegseth
debated the Iraq war and defended the need to win the war over
Islamist aggression in Iraq. The audience was polled on their
position to the war before and after the debate. Hegseth was able
to articulate the importance of victory in Iraq and of the three
platform positions on Iraq, his side of the debate won the day.
Vets for Freedom at CPAC
Vets for Freedom Executive Director
Pete Hegseth moderated the panel featuring the some of the
Heroes that will be participating in the National Heroes Tour.
Marcus Luttrell, author of the New York Times Bestselling
Lone Survivor and recipient of the Navy Cross
spoke alongside, Marco Martinez, author of Hard
Corps and recipient of the first Navy Cross given in
the Iraq war and David Bellavia, author of House to
House: An Epic Memoir of War and nominee of the Medal
of Honor. The brave men described their experiences in Iraq and
Afghanistan and expressed the importance of success in the missions
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pete Hegseth Addresses West Point
On February 19th, 2008 Vets for
Freedom's Executive Director, Pete Hegseth addressed back to
back classes of cadets enrolled in American Politics at West Point
Military Academy; the nation's oldest and most prestigious military
post. Cpt. Hegseth talked to the cadets about Vets for
Freedom, his choices on means to influence policy, and the
importance of political participation.
Vets for Freedom Heroes Tour
Many of America's most decorated war heroes from Iraq and
Afghanistan hit our nations highways with the non-partisan message
of progress and freedom from coast to coast.
The Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour
covered 8.000 miles, making 21 stops in 14 states, spreading the
message of support for our troops by honoring their commitment, and
rallying the country to complete the missions in Iraq and
Although the tour has ended the battle to allow our men and women
in uniform to succeed in the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan has
not. This is a critical time for our country. We need to continue
to let Americans, lawmakers, and the media know that the sacrifices
of our brave military and the dramatic success they have achieved
cannot continue to go unnoticed or unrecognized. Even after the
testimony of the progress occurring in Iraq, there are still those
that refuse to acknowledge that a safe and stable Iraq is
attainable and vital to the security of our world.
As we continue to spread this message Vets for
Freedom would like to thank all those that joined us on
the tour to show their support. We especially want to thank Jim
Hansen, Jeremiah Workman, Steve Russell, Tom Parks, Kate Norley,
Marcus Luttrell and David Bellavia for taking the time out of their
schedules to share their stories with people across the
Vets on the Hill 2008
April 8 2008 - Over
400 veterans from the Iraq and Afghan fronts surged through the
halls of congress sharing the ground truths of their 'boots on the
ground' experience with their Representatives and Senators.
Vets for Freedom members from 48 states took part in
almost 400 meetings with Senators and Representatives, and were
present and mentioned during Ambassador Crocker and General
Petraeus' testimony before the Senate.
At a press conference before the event, Senators McCain,
Lieberman, Graham, Cornyn, Bond, Coburn, Inhofe, Isakson, Roberts,
Sessions and House Members Burgess, Marshall, Johnson, King,
McCotter, Poe, Reichert, Wamp, Whittman, Diaz-Balart, Wilson,
Schmidt, Blackburn, Murphy, Bachman, Carter, and Gingrey addressed
our members and provided strong statements in support of our
cause. The message was clear - commitment to completion of
the mission and the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and
This was the largest event held on the grounds of the capital
for a pro victory war rally.
Freedom Back to Iraq
August 2008 - Vets for Freedom sent 8 members
back to the very streets they once patrolled in uniform to assess
the situation on the ground. Pete Hegseth, Joel Arends, Shawn
Bryan, Kate Norley, Erik Swabb, Ben Hayden, David Bellavia and
Daniel Bell, returned to such places as Fallujah, Baghdad, Baqubah,
Taji, Mosul and Ramadi. They felt it was essential for the American
people to know the facts about what is happening on the ground in
Iraq. Some media outlets, and certain politicians, still fail to
assess the situation objectively; so Vets for
Freedom headed Back to Iraq to let them know what has
been accomplished, what still needs to be done, and how we should
proceed in order to attain sustainable.
You can read some of their writing at BlackFive.net, Weekly Standard, and National
Hegseth and Bellavia Report from Democratic National
Denver- Pete Hegseth and David Bellavia attended the Democratic
National Convention in August 2008. Together they sought to
continue the non-partisan VFF message that the Surge in Iraq has
been successful and the importance of continuing the strategy for
victory there and in Afghanistan.
to View Video from the Democratic Convention
Vets for Freedom at the 2008 Republican National
September 2008. Vets for Freedom also showed a presence
at the Republican National Convention where they focused their
efforts to support non-binding senate Resolution 636, giving credit
for the success in Iraq to the new strategy of General Petreaus'
counter insurgency tactics used in the surge of troops in 2007.
Click Here to View Video
from the Republican Convention
Vets for Freedom and the 2008 Elections
In 2008, Vets for Freedom started the Vets for Freedom PAC to
support policymakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood
behind our great generation of American warriors on the
battlefield, and who have put long-term national security before
short-term partisan political gain. The Vets for Freeodm PAC
has publicly endorsed candidates for U.S. Senate and the U.S. House
of Representatives from both sides of the aisle.
to view Our Endorsed Candidates
Vets for Freedom has also produced and aired several TV
commercials aimed at educationg the public about the consequences
of failure in ther Global War on Terror, as well as the tru views
of some running for higher office.
Click Here to see
all of Vets for Freeodm's Commercials