Veterans and state legislators from 26 states, led by retired Army National Guard Sergeant Dan McKnight, traveled to Washington during Veterans Day week to press members of Congress, Senators and senior Congressional staff to end America’s endless wars, especially the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.
McKnight, a military combat veteran who serves as BringOurTroopsHome.US Chairman, is making the case for lawmakers to reevaluate US foreign policy to de-emphasize military intervention, particularly in the Middle East.
"This is not a liberal or conservative cause, but an American cause that most directly affects those who serve in battle, past and present. As past warriors, we are here to advocate a change of policy. The Constitution clearly states that it is the responsibility of Congress to send our soldiers to war," said McKnight, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2005.
With several national polls showing a majority of Americans support Bring Our Troops Home’s position, McKnight said his grassroots army is gathering major political and media might to take the fight to Congress. (See polls at https://bringourtroopshome.us/polls/)
"It’s time to debate the most important issue facing any nation: when to go war," said McKnight during a National Press Club briefing today.
Rep. Tyler Lindholm, a Navy veteran and Majority Whip in the Wyoming State Legislature, said he hopes federal officials in Washington will listen to the growing groundswell of war veterans. "It’s tough for veterans to talk about foreign policy. But we’ve been in Afghanistan for 18 years, with no meaningful goal or endgame, while our brothers and sisters in arms are coming back hurt or not at all. It’s time to escalate our conversation with Congress."
"That’s why we are working on a coordinated strategy with lawmakers in multiple states to pursue a 10th Amendment-based check and balance on federal war-making powers. Our intent is to introduce legislation in multiple states to require that National Guard units cannot be deployed to combat operations overseas unless Congress has approved a formal declaration of war," said Lindholm.
The high-profile event featured a keynote address by retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, U.S. Army, a Special Forces commander who served nearly a dozen tours in Afghanistan, plus panel discussions by other high-ranking military officers and NCOs on the effects of America’s now 18-year long war on the military itself, and on minority service members and their communities.
"It’s important for America’s elected leaders to have a strategy and operational approach for military engagement. We need to lead with diplomacy first, and use military engagement as a last resort," said Bolduc.
Idaho’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, added: "Our elected leaders need to understand that our Founding Fathers gave Congress the responsibility to declare war and to determine if it is necessary. It’s time for Congress to do their jobs."
Bethany Baldes, a Wyoming National Guard member from 2004-2010, stated the case bluntly: "Congress should declare war or get out of war."
"We have fought in wars. Some of us will be called to serve again. But we will not stand idly by to serve at the whim of politicians in Congress who apparently do not understand fundamental issues outside of America’s shores," said McKnight.
"We support an ‘America First’ policy that puts every overseas action to the test of whether or not it’s in the vital interests of the United States, chief among those actions being the deployment of American military forces," said McKnight, noting the $6 trillion price tag for wars in the Middle East.
While this is the organization’s first official foray into Washington politics, McKnight said Bring Our Troops Home US has already been successful at educating members of Congress – and the media – thus far, and they plan to come back to the Capitol soon.
Others are taking note.
"BringOurTroopsHome.US is already spreading around the country at a wildfire’s pace," wrote radio talk show host Scott Horton of Austin, Tex., author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. "They have the President’s own words to invoke when stating their case that 18 years of this is enough."
Said Major Danny Sjursen (Ret.), a US Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point who served tours with reconnaissance units in both Iraq and Afghanistan: "Veterans Day used to be Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of the Great War to end all wars. It’s nice to thank veterans, but war should be the policy of last resort. The best way to celebrate veterans is to create less of us."
BringOurTroopsHome.US is dedicated to ending the war in Afghanistan, removing our military forces from the Middle East, and insisting the Constitution of the United States be faithfully observed.