When veterans have something to say about peace and security, people tend to listen. They have seen firsthand the human costs of war. And it’s American soldiers on the frontline — along with civilians caught in the crosshairs of conflict — that pay the highest price. Not the policy and decision-makers who send them there.
That’s why Ploughshares Fund grantee, VoteVets, has been such a pivotal partner in efforts to protect the nuclear agreement with Iran, which stopped the country from developing a bomb without putting a single soldier’s life at risk.
Despite its success at keeping the world safer since it was finalized in Vienna two years ago, there are many in Washington who continue to oppose the deal. So Ploughshares Fund and several DC-based grantees recently worked to organize meetings on Capitol Hill for VoteVets members to talk with lawmakers about its merits. Some 25 veterans from across the country — Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, New York, Missouri, among other states — met with their representatives and senators. They expressed their support of the Iran deal for peacefully resolving the nuclear crisis while preventing another deadly war in the Middle East.
"They ran from morning till night, walking down to the Senate and the House, distributing materials and going to meetings," said Mary Kaszynski, Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy. "Many of them lost friends in Iraq and Afghanistan so they know the risk. The representatives and senators were very moved by veterans’ stories."
Nonetheless, the landmark deal is facing increasing danger on Capitol Hill. On June 15, the Senate passed a new sanctions bill that could ultimately jeopardize the deal. This is especially worrisome as tensions rise between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
With combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Vietnam, the veterans understand the very real consequences should the deal fall apart. Which is why they are passionate about protecting it from those in Congress who are behind attempts to undermine it..
"We hope this gives Members of Congress the support they need to continue to champion the Iran deal and to rigorously enforce it,” Kaszynski added. “Undermining the bill would not only hurt the Iran nuclear deal; it would also endanger US troops."