Greetings from the Veterans for American Power Tour! Over the next two weeks, I'll be travelling with a group of veterans through the Midwest and down the East Coast.
Why did these veterans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, sign up to take a bus across America? Because they recognize that clean energy solutions are essential for America's economy, our climate and our national security.
The veterans have come together for an unprecedented 21-state journey organized by Operation Free to talk to citizens and community leaders about the looming crisis of climate change-which not only threatens our planet, but also threatens our national security. Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security groups working together to raise public awareness about the threats of climate change and our addiction to oil.
There are two buses of veterans heading out on the tour, one starting in Montana and one in the Arkansas. On my bus are five veterans from diverse backgrounds. Rafael Noboa is a former Army Sgt., who served in Iraq; George "Ed" May is a former Army Staff Sgt., and a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield; Chuck Tyler is a former Army Staff Sgt., and a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom; Matt Victoriano is a former Marine Corps Sgt., who served two tours in Iraq; and Marilyn Weakley is a former Army Staff Sgt., who served as a squad leader in Afghanistan.
Our bus started in Arkansas on October 12, and stopped in four towns large and small across the Razorback state. The next day our intrepid vets headed to Missouri, stopping at a American Legion town hall meeting before rolling to the Gateway to the West, St Louis (my hometown), where they attended a town hall meeting at a local VFW hall. Several dozen people gathered to hear the veterans' discuss the importance of oil independence and the need to strengthen national security by investing in clean energy alternatives.
"I don't want oil period," said Chuck Tyler, a 10 year Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. "As a threat multiplier, it doesn't even have to come from overseas. If you put it in your car, if you burn it, it contributes to carbon disruption...it's something that we don't want to deal with and it's something that 1.4 million people in uniform don't want to have to deal with."
The veterans also discussed the importance of passing clean energy and climate change legislation that would help protect Americans from the threats of climate change and its potential impacts on global security. The House passed clean energy and climate change legislation last June, and the Senate is now working on a similar bill.
On Wednesday Oct. 14, the veterans bus tour heads to Jefferson City, Kansas City and St Joseph, MO, before traveling to a town hall meeting in Lincoln, NE.
I'll be blogging throughout the tour and will add pictures and video along the way. You can follow my blog on NRDC's Greenlight and on the Operation Free website.