Members of the MVA family,
It has been seven days since a deadly attack was mounted on our country and democracy.
I come to you today in grief and anger, but also with a message of resolve: change is within our grasp. We, the People, will persist.
As a country, we sit on the precipice of the greatest threat our republic has faced since the Civil War. We are tearing at the seams and, through it all, members of the military and veteran community have been in full-frame.
As we watched our nation under attack, it was impossible to miss as veterans involved in the insurrection raised flags of the military that we once swore our allegiance to, and those of organizations we once supported and led. For many minority veterans, last week was a shocking, but not surprising, revelation that our community is as deeply divided as our country itself.
The riot was a culmination of four years of terror and violence experienced by minority veterans under the Trump-Pence Administration. This president has actively worked to destroy our faith in the peaceful transition of power–sowing seeds of doubt in the very foundation of our democracy.
To be clear, this insurrection was an attack rooted in the realization that the white nationalist grips on the reins of power in this country are slipping away. As a community we must push back against the normalization and rationalization of this attempted coup and hold accountable all responsible and complicit in the incitement of violence.
We applaud the bipartisan cohort of Representatives that passed President Trump’s second set of impeachment articles moments ago, and we call for the President’s prompt conviction by Senate.
We also call upon our Congressional leadership and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to conduct a joint investigation into the radicalization and involvement of current and former members of the armed forces in this insurrection.
It is imperative for us to acknowledge that dozens of service members and veterans are being investigated for their involvement in these riots. Watching the flags of the American Legion fly on the steps of our Capitol during this insurrection, after personally resigning from their ranks years ago due to rising white nationalism and racism, brought me to my knees. For the past several years, leaders in the veteran community have been ringing the alarm bells of radicalization within our ranks while folks gave passes to organizations that have harbored white nationalists in leadership positions. This must end now.
We urge Secretary Wilkie and Secretary-designate McDonough to revoke the charters of Veterans Service Organizations that will not commit to purging members involved in the insurrection.
Last, I have seen many statements circulating that seek to debase the veteran identities of those involved in this insurrection, because their beliefs do not align with our own. While I am deeply disturbed, angry, and ashamed of their actions, I will not do so and I urge you to consider the same.
The reality is that the ideals these individuals espoused, of white supremacy and nationalism, are not new or uncommon among service members and veterans. Denying that these individuals are a part of our community disregards the existence of their hateful rhetoric that has institutionalized white supremacy into the very systems designed to support us. We must own the fact that white supremacist ideals run deep within our ranks and commit to tackling those head-on.
These insurrections and those responsible only serve to embolden our work and renew our resolve to fight. We will continue to organize and to bring to fruition our vision of a more just and equitable community and world.
Please stay safe, stay healthy, and keep fighting. I’ll see you out there soon.