By Rocky Kistner
A group of veterans on a nationwide bus tour rolled into Kansas City on Wednesday, where the veterans talked to citizens and community leaders about national security threats posed by oil consumption and climate change.
The veterans are part of an unprecedented 21-state tour by members of Operation Free Veterans for American Power to talk to citizens and community leaders about the looming crisis over climate change and national security. Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security groups working together to raise public awareness about the need to move toward a clean energy economy to make Americans more secure and to help create more jobs.
“We’re here to tell people that oil dependence is a national security issue,” said Matt Victoriano, a former Marine Sergeant who spent two tours in Iraq. “We are veterans who believe the future security of our country lies in building a new clean energy economy. We have to get off fossil fuels and develop clean energy alternatives that will keep American jobs here and make us more secure.”
George “Ed” May, a former Army Staff Sergeant who served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield remembers what it was like to be in the desert trying to protect burning oilfields.
“I was standing there and the oil fires were creating a kind of oily rain that came down out of the skies,” he said. “It was then that I realized it was time to get off oil so we don’t have to send our troops into harm’s way. It’s time to develop new energy sources that are clean and will make our country more secure. The guys on the front lines now are counting on it.”
The bus started in Arkansas on October 12 and stopped in four towns large and small across the Razorback state. The next day the vets headed to Missouri, stopping at an American Legion town hall meeting before rolling to the Gateway to the West, St Louis,
where they attended another town hall meeting at a VFW hall.
On Wednesday the bus traveled from St Louis to a press conference in Jefferson City before heading to a press event outside their bus at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.
“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, oil 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 keep Americans safe 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 debating a similar bill.
The bus tour left Kansas City for stops in St. Joseph, Missouri, and then Lincoln, Nebraska, Wednesday night. It will travel to a dozen states meeting with citizens, community leaders, fellow veterans and members of the press to talk about the importance of developing a clean energy economy and helping to boost our national security. The bus tour ends in Tampa, Florida, on Oct. 25.