Refuses to Meet
With Iraq War Veterans
Murtha Has No Time for Veterans of War on Terror
On Tuesday, April 8th, 2008, the Vets for Freedom Heroes Tour
made a stop in our nation's capitol. They were there to show support for General Petraeus as he testified before Congress, and to visit with Congressional representatives.
Their mission? Let Congress know there are many Americans who support the mission in the War on Terror, and spread the news about the progress that has been made by our military in Iraq, something these guys know firsthand.
You know, the news the mainstream media doesn't consider newsworthy. So they wanted to make sure our representatives in Congress are aware that "the Surge" has worked, and Iraq is a much safer place because of it.
There was a news conference on Capitol Hill (barely covered by the media) that included inspirational speeches by Senator John McCain and various Congressional representatives and Vets. Then the Vets, clad in matching tan shirts bearing the Vets for Freedom logo, spread out to visit as many congressional offices as possible.
During a mid-morning break, some of the Vets met with Army vet Bill Russell a vet from Pennsylvania who has launched a campaign to unseat Murtha this fall. LTC Russell just retired from the U.S. Army. He's a Desert Storm veteran and a survivor of the September 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon.
The Marines in the group decided they'd like to pay a visit to Congressman Murtha, to let him know personally what was really going on in Iraq, since it was obvious he didn't have a clue. And despite charges having been dropped against most of the "Haditha Marines" he had publicly defamed, he had issued no apology. They wanted him to know they thought he should.
Vets for Freedom had requested appointments with every representative on the Hill, but Congressman Murtha's office did not agree to a meeting. Since those Reps work for us, and we have the freedom to walk into their offices when we're in town, the Vets for Freedom delegation of 8-10 Iraq vets, accompanied by Bill Russell, decided to do just that.
Here's a first-person account of what happened, posted on Free Republic by the wife of one of the Vets:
"I was able to film just a few moments of our entry in the office, with Bill Russell requesting a visit with Congressman Murtha. A staffer quickly made his way over to me and informed me that I could not film in the office because it was illegal. Not being one to break the law (no, really), I turned off the camera.
We were informed that the congressman had 'back-to-back meetings' and we were chastised for just walking in and not requesting a meeting. (This despite the fact that a meeting WAS requested.) A vet asked if a staffer could meet with us and we were told no.
The lovely blonde middle-aged woman behind the desk inquired about the purpose of our visit. Bill Russell told her the group was there to share their support for completing the mission in the Middle East as well as asking the Congressman if he planned on apologizing to the Marines. She quickly got defensive; 'Congressman Murtha strongly supports the troops.'
'No he doesn’t,' I countered. (I couldn’t let that stand unchallenged.)
A bit ruffled by the contradiction, she claimed, 'There are many troops who feel very supported by Congressmen Murtha.'
'Not here - Any of you guys feel supported by Congressman Murtha?' I asked. Heads shook all around. 'Hmmm... Nope, no one here feels supported by Congressman Murtha.'
A Vet (obviously much nicer than me) told her that he would like some time to discuss the progress of the war in a civil manner. He said he personally wasn’t from PA, but wanted to know if the handful of Vets there who were from PA could at least meet with a staffer. Again, the answer was no.
Bill Russell let her know we would be on the Hill all day and would be available to come back. He asked if we could leave cell phone numbers. Cards were passed through the group and handed to the receptionist.
A pregnant pause ensued and her 'Have a nice day' was pretty much understood to mean, 'Okay, you can go now.' I stepped out to the hall and filmed the exit of the Vets.
No one got a call to come back and meet with either the congressman or one of his staffers. But that was not the end of the Murtha saga for the day.
Apparently later on one of the Vets ran into Bev Perlson in front of the Cannon Building. Bev is the founder of Band of Mothers, an organization of moms of service members. She was spending one of the three days she had a permit to stand there [on the corner in front of Nancy Pelosi's office] with signs in support of General Petraeus and our troops.
The Vet shared his story of the Murtha visit with Bev. She was outraged. She decided to let the congressman know what she thought of a representative who did not have time or could not even have staff make time to meet with veterans of this conflict.
She did seem to think the vets were 'thrown out' which was not [exactly] true. Nonetheless, the vets were not given audience by even a staffer. In Bev’s own words, she got 'pretty loud' with them, said her piece, and left.
She made it from Murtha’s office in the Rayburn building to the front of the Cannon building, and had been there with her signs for a while when, depending on the report you believe, at least 3 or at the most 6 cop cars, lights flashing, pulled up.
A bunch of cops got out and surrounded this wisp of a woman, a mom of a soldier starting his third deployment. [Ed. note: Actually, Bev's son has just returned from his FOURTH deployment with the 82nd Airborne.] Bev had to share her ID with the police who took down the info, but did not arrest her.
She said she would not apologize for what she said or how she said it, but she did apologize to the police officers for putting them through having to do paperwork. One cop was taken aback since he was so used to having to arrest the leftie moonbats (He had another name for them, but my momma won’t let me say it). He thanked her for her consideration.
Kristinn of Free Republic went back to Murtha’s office to get their take on Bev’s 'visit.' They said she had yelled about the fact that the office would not visit with the vets, just as Bev had stated.
He asked why they called the cops and they said she was 'disruptive to the office.' Not threatening - 'disruptive.' He asked when they called the police, and they stated that they had called after she left. Gee - I don’t think she was disrupting the office when she wasn’t there!
Kristinn mentioned that perhaps next time they could use a bit of understanding -- after all, her son was on his third tour and she was of course emotional about it.
I don't know if they will heed his advice. I do know that it is highly ironic that the same congressman who claimed our troops were using 'excessive force' in Iraq has staffers who call out multiple squad cars on a mom who just gave them a well-deserved piece of her mind."
We were on that corner in front of the Cannon Building the previous day with Bev Perlson and representatives from Gathering of Eagles, and spent some time visiting with Senators and their staffs to convey the same message:
Americans support the mission in the War on Terror. We want our Congress to support it, too.
We're just sorry we missed the opportunity to accompany Bev to Murtha's office!
Bev Perlson is an imposing force. She stands just over 5 feet tall, a petite blonde woman with piercing blue eyes. But don't make the mistake of underestimating her!
On behalf of Band of Mothers, Bev Perlson funds her own trips from her home near Chicago to Washington, D.C. on a monthly basis. She requests a 3-day permit, and she sets up camp on the corner in front of the Cannon Building, just in front of the entrance that's closest to Nancy Pelosi's office as Speaker of the House. Bev brings signs of support for our troops, some chastizing Congress for failing to fund their mission, or pass the budget bill, and she brings a "boom box" and plays patriotic music, sharing her message with anyone who cares to chat with her.
Bev's son, Sgt. John P. White, has completed four tours in the War on Terror with the 82nd Airborne, and is a recipient of a Bronze Star medal. The motto for Band of Mothers is "Warriors Come From Warriors," and it's definitely true in Bev's case.
She describes herself as "The Very Proud Mother of a United States Soldier 82nd Airborne, The Very Proud Sister of a United States Marine - Vietnam, and The Very Proud Daughter of a WWII Veteran." You might say her family bloodline is red, white and blue.
Here's Bev's account of the action in DC, including the Murtha story:
"To Chris Hill, Capt. Larry Bailey and The Gathering of Eagles;
To Pete Hegseth, Vets For Freedom;
To the VFW:
How proud we all are to be among you Great American Heroes and Patriots. In the noble tradition of George Washington, who fought tirelessly and relentlessly for our freedom and often without any help from Washington (sounds familiar), you Warriors walked all over the Hill to deliver a message to our Congress and Senate in support of your Brothers and their mission.
Chris Hill and The Gathering of Eagles, my heart is beholden to all of you forever and ever. Your group may have been small but your formidable force carried your Brothers' message to 437 offices!
My Son Johnny served 436 days on his last deployment, so nobody better ever try and tell this mother that The Band of Brothers is anything but tough, steely, stoic and the true Protectors of our freedom!
This stellar beginning of our descent on Washington was followed on Tuesday by over 400 Heroes of Vets For Freedom, led by Lt. Col Pete Hegseth, and on Friday by the VFW. As our group stood outside the Cannon Bldg (where Ms. Nancy 'supposedly' works about 3 days a week), these fine Vets For Freedom Warriors walked by us all throughout the day.
This group is made up of Veterans and Active Duty Military, and many of these are brave Warriors just returning from the battlefield! I was most certain that they would command the attention of every Congressman and Senator they visited on Tuesday.
Most certainly, if a Congressman or Senator is interested in knowing how things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan, these are the folks they would definitely make time for. I was most certain of that.
Well, I was wrong. I’d like to know what is going on with a Congressman or Senator who did not make time for this pertinent information these Soldiers came all this way to share with them. As these particular 'uninformed' legislators hold the funding and the fate of these courageous, selfless and honorable Soldiers in their hands, I would like to know who or what was so important that they were turned away!
Shame on any that did not take the time to meet with them. Your disinterest and disrespect toward these Heroes is concerning to this mother and I’m sure, all families whose Son and Daughters are serving. What are you doing deciding the fate of these Soldiers when you are not even interested in getting direct information from the battlefield? It is shameful, disgraceful and downright dangerous.
To the Senators and Congressman who did find the time, you install confidence in this mother and hope that there is some sense of sensibility going on in Washington. Thank you with a mother’s heart for taking the time and showing these brave men who lay their lives down for us everyday, and those that already have, that you honor and respect their service and deep devotion to their country. Our country. I wish I could hug everyone of you.
There was an incident where I was apparently 'on the lam' from the Police for about 2 blocks, as I left the Rayburn building heading back to my post on the Cannon building corner (where Pelosi supposedly works about 3 days a week, mind you!)[when she's not on her five-week vacation]
I visited the Rayburn Bldg because that is where John Murtha, it seems to me, hides in his office. I had absolutely seen enough disappointed Marines walk by and tell me that John Murtha did not see them and could not see them. When I asked how did it go, they all reported pretty much the same answer 'Didn’t have time for us.' Could this be the same John Murtha who had all kinds of time to badmouth these Marines even before he was officially briefed on what occurred in Haditha?!!!
The mother and protector in me could not let this disrespect go by. I believe these Heroes need someone to speak up for them because they cannot and I can no longer sit and be silent. I headed down to John Murtha’s office with two mothers of Soldiers, one whose son currently serves and one whose son has served proudly. We entered the office and I asked to see Murtha.
'Do you have an appointment?' a young man asked. I gave him my card and told him I was outraged that several Marines had been in to see Mr. Murtha and were refused. This young man stood up and told me that 'people' cannot just come in there and expect to see the Congressman without an appointment.
I was outraged by his pompous attitude and insulted that he didn’t seem to understand that these brave Warriors are not just 'people!' I clearly saw the problem here and was so deeply offended that he didn’t seem to understand.
I informed him that these fine Marines are not 'just people,' THEY ARE SOLDIERS, THEY ARE HEROES, and Mr. Murtha needs to show them respect, and further, he needs to apologize to every one of them. The last thing I said was 'He is a coward' because I believe that he is.
A white-haired lady asked us to leave and we did, and as we walked down the hall, the white-haired lady called us 'Cowards.'
No ma’am, we are not Cowards, we are the Very Proud Mothers of Soldiers who fear NO ONE, when it comes to our Sons and Daughters!
We left and visited several Armed Services offices, thanked everyone for their service, picked up tea in the cafeteria and proceeded back to the Cannon Bldg.
However, John Murtha had other plans for me. Just as I reached the Cannon Bldg., 3 or 4 Police cars with flashing lights pulled right up near me. I think I saw 6 or 7 Policemen around me and was asked to step aside to speak with one of the Officers.
I was asked if I had just been in the Rayburn Bldg and what was my business there. I explained to the Officer what transpired in Mr. Murtha’s office. I was asked for my driver’s license and that was it.
I did tell the nice Policeman I was not at all sorry for what I said in Murtha’s office and that I have NEVER been arrested. I also told the officer that I was very sorry if I caused him any trouble or a lot of undue paperwork.
If Mr. Murtha’s purpose in calling the Police on me was to scare me or intimidate me, his bullish tactic did not work and I say he is lucky my father [a World War II vet] wasn't around! I am angry that this man, who accuses our military of using excessive force, sent 3 Police Cars and 7 Officers to intimidate me. Had me chased down like a fugitive!
I know one thing for certain: John Murtha does not respect our Soldiers and he sure doesn’t respect their mothers. You are shameful, John Murtha. "
You Go, Girl!
Join Bev and the Band of Mothers, along with Gathering of Eagles, on the corner in front of Pelosi's office on September 9, 10, and 11, as they honor our service members and their sacrifices, as well as those killed in the terrorist attacks of September 1, 2001. Get details at the link above.
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LtCol Jeffrey Chessani, USMC, battalion commander of the "Haditha Marines" is now forced to defend himself in a second trial. After the judge dismissed all charges because of unlawful command influence, the government has filed an appeal. LtCol Chessani needs your help!