On April 7, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on potential threats from right-wing extremist groups within the United States. The report, which is similar to an earlier DHS report on left-wing extremist groups, pointed out a variety of potential threats across a broad range of fractious groups. However, one section of the report deals specifically with vulnerabilities within the growing population of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
While many in the blogosphere have chosen to shoot from the hip on this issue, I'd like to take the opportunity to explain exactly what DHS was trying to convey.
On page seven of the report, DHS outlined that disgruntled veterans could be vulnerable to exploitation from right-wing extremist groups--something that the veterans community should be gravely concerned about.
Veterans are only mentioned in this report because right-wing extremist groups have made a concerted effort to recruit us, tailoring their messages and their brand specifically to appeal to our needs and concerns. DHS has documented that these groups will try to exploit our highly-trained, highly-skilled veterans, since we offer a skill set valuable to anyone who seeks to disrupt the peace. This report serves as a warning that we all should heed: Don't be suckered in by hate groups or extremist ideologies, left or right.
Personally, I think it should be the duty of veterans' organizations such as AMVETS to nip the efforts of extremist groups in the bud by continuing to do what we do best: Honor the service of all our veterans, instill a sense of pride in our nation and our communities, and ensure that every American who serves this nation honorably receives the care and benefits they have earned.