WASHINGTON, July 8, 2014 – In the wake of the nation’s Veterans Affairs dilemma, many soldiers returning from Afghanistan and the Middle-East are now coming home to a new war—poverty. In 2014, veterans are experiencing longer than expected waits to find employment, and mediocre treatment from their local Veterans Affairs office. Veterans, both young and old, are pondering if the same government they once vowed to protect has now decided to turn its back on them.
Sadly, for many veterans returning from the casualties of war, this scenario is now a reality, whereas more than 300,000 veterans are finding their transitions back home to be difficult, some even homeless. In fact, a growing number of veterans, predominately minorities, who don’t already have support systems in place, have immediately found themselves living on the streets. As a result of this ‘crisis, radial anti-government militia groups in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming to name a few, have used this crisis’ as a recruiting tool to mobilize veterans against federal policies that include gun States rights, gun control and rights to privacy.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2009 it was discovered that approximately150 radical militia groups existed in the United States, and recruited across the nation. Not to mention, many anti-American militia groups’ memberships drastically increased months after the election of President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black President. It’s not difficult to understand that veterans returning from service and finding themselves at a disadvantage already have distrust for the federal government. Congress in recent years found itself steadily decreasing the military budget, by reducing spending that indirectly supports military families; making veterans less trustworthy of Washington’s policies. Since the Bush era, right wing conservatives have extensively reported on this problem, highlighting the reality that anti-government extremist groups still existed, and were targeting young, impressionable and disgruntled veterans.
Let’s consider two possibilities as to why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies have now expressed concerns about veterans being targets for militia recruitment. First, veterans have sufficient warfare military training, training that our own local police departments are not equipped nor prepared to handle. Second, militia groups are now branding their recruitment efforts as being nothing more than “patriotic”, and referring to themselves as “a brotherhood to save America”, but from whom are they saving America from? State and federal law enforcement officials, have gone undercover at militia rallies, meet up’s, and events, and have discovered that many of these “patriotic” groups, once thoroughly invested, are actually sub-groups for Aryan nation operations; some happening in our own backyards. No different than monitoring any form of organized crime, the Department of Homeland Security, and the federal government have a responsibility and an obligation to protect the American people—even if it is from our nations’ veterans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brandon Brice is an Eagleton Institute Graduate Fellow. He holds a Master of Science in International Affairs and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in International Business and Marketing. He is a 2012 member of the Foreign Policy Initiative, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy and the Alexander Hamilton Society and former Columnist for the Washington Times Communities Digital News. Mr. Brice received an award from the City of Newark for his work in social enterprise and is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Mr. Brice is a former New York State Committee Member, Judicial Delegate and former Director of Education and African American Affairs in the Office of the New Jersey Governor. Brandon Brice now serves as the Director of Strategic partnership for Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia.