THE BLOG
11/21/2007 10:41 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Courage of my Convictions

This past Monday the Philadelphia Daily News ran an op-ed that I wrote expressing my frustrations with big money anti-war lobbying organizations. Particularly the groups that I worked side by side with. However, the piece that I wrote needs to be elaborated on further.

I have been contacted on and off the record by many expressing support and criticism regarding my "outing" of how these groups operate. The contacts came from some highly influential people, close friends, anonymous tipsters, and many others. Some want me to go further, name names, and put the final nail in the coffin. Others think what I did is detrimental to the "anti-war" movement as a whole and simply want me to cease fire.

Writing the op-ed was not easy for me. In doing so I had to confess to my own equal involvement in all that I cited as disingenuous -- and rightfully so. After all, I knowingly played the game and willingly allowed myself to become a major player. Therefore, I am an equal culprit.

I don't want this blog to be misconstrued as self righteous, martyrdom, or falling on the sword. This is me taking responsibility for my faults, learning from my mistakes, making the corrections, and pursuing a more effective route in ending the war in Iraq.

Some have asked me what my future plans are now that I detached myself from their perception of the anti-war movement. My answer to them is to continue on in the fight to end the war. I have the courage, conviction, and credentials to do so effectively.

Here is my ultimate motivation

The voice of the Iraq veteran is so very crucial to ending the war. Iraq veterans are the absolute authorities of all testimonials to the harsh reality we are facing over there. That is why it is so necessary for me, as an Iraq veteran, to drop the excess baggage and continue speaking out in a manner that is pure and without any influence from "special interest" groups. Once the voice of the veteran is controlled by those who have not walked in his/her shoes the message is no longer authentic or genuine.

We veterans have an obligation to each other not be fronts or frauds for outsiders who want to use our experiences from the battlefields to promote their agenda. The blood, sweat, and tears that we gave for this country are beyond the comprehension of those who have never served in uniform. Furthermore, our experiences are not for sale - we can't and must not be bought.

The moment we veterans step on foreign soil and look death in the eye we eternally separate ourselves from the average person. We become exceptional and extraordinary people who know the actual truth of what the spectators claim to know and pontificate on in such a cavalier manner. That is why we must educate America to what they only hear from pundits on television--in most cases, pure fallacies. Sadly, we have an obligation to fight a war of two fronts--at home and abroad. After all, we are the true experts. If they don't hear it from us - they will never really know.

We veterans must play an influential role in determining the outcome of our nation's future. The only way to do that is to stand in solidarity with each other and end the divisiveness. We must finally shut down those who criticize the patriotism of veterans through disgraceful politically partisan tactics and send them packing on their merry way.

We as veterans can respectfully disagree with each other. It is only natural that we will have differences of opinion. But we should never allow ourselves to be pitted vet-against-vet by those of an outside influence who have never shared our sacrifice and we must never question each other's dedication to this country. If we do so we will lose all that we covet as veterans ... what America proclaims as our "best, bravest, and brightest."


Where to go from here

I said my piece and all that I have to say in the op-ed --and it spoke volumes. All I can ask for is that it was enough to redeem myself for not abiding by what I just described as "my ultimate motivation."

When I joined the military I did so to preserve the freedom of ALL Americans regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, and political party affiliation. Under the tragic presidency of George W. Bush those very same freedoms have all been tampered with - the war in Iraq, Katrina, the outing of CIA operatives, domestic spying, the fanatical religious right-wing, the persecution of gay people by Bush and his loyalist in Congress, and all dissenters of Bush's view of the world labeled as traitors, cowards, and cut and run terrorist sympathizers.

This is not the America I volunteered my life for. So now I feel compelled to do everything in my capacity to reclaim it and restore our democracy. I realize that I am only one man and I can only do so much. But if every single American shared this view we would be an overwhelming Army of people who have the power to take our country back.

Patriotism is not only displayed through military service, waving the flag, or cheering on your nation's President. And it is certainly not standing idle while your President wages an unnecessary war that is killing our troops and running our nation into a debt that will last for decades. It is as simple as the willingness of an individual to fight for the betterment of their country in all stretches of the imagination.

True patriots would never want or prefer to see their country at war. They would much rather have peace, prosperity, and secure livelihoods for all of their fellow citizens. That is what I will fight for ... for the rest of my days.

So for those who think I am out to hurt the anti-war movement -- sorry to disappoint you.

John Bruhns
Iraq Veteran