News and Views

Iron Shoes and Cold Hearts

By Cal Hickey

In April 2016 my wife Kathy and I fulfilled a longtime dream to take a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River. The trip exceeded our expectations in every imaginable way.

We cruised past castles, quaint villages and vineyards as we relaxed in the upper deck lounge of our ship, “Freya.” It was magical, one of those instances where you feel as if you have to pinch yourself just to prove you’re not in a dream.

Press Release: Founder of Veterans for American Ideals Awarded American Muslim Community Humanitarian Honor

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania--Yesterday, Saturday, July 14, Scott Cooper, founder of Veterans for American Ideals and director of nationals security outreach at Human Rights First, accepted the annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's Humanitarian Award, along with Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthia of Illinois. The award is presented each July to “individuals who honor fundamental and universal human rights guaranteed both in the Holy Quran and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.”

Leader Spotlight: Matthew Deibel

Matthew Deibel is a U.S. Marine veteran and artist. Thematically, Deibel explores his experience and perspective of combat, often focusing on civilian casualties in Iraq, but touching on other urgent humanitarian issues as well, specifically, the global refugee crisis.

“To me, it’s very important,” he says, “and my art is about things I find important…I try to make art that is accessible and sparks a dialogue.”


News from the Week of July 2nd

Veteran, first-generation American, and career guru, Eric Ahn's message to fellow veterans this Fourth of July: “We can still fight for those same people and I think veterans are the perfect people in American society to help bridge divides, bridge gaps, build people together to make this country a much more inclusive and engaging society.” Eric, the son of South Korean immigrants, enlisted in the Marine Corps after college and deployed to multiple countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantryman. Watch below.

Press Release: Discharge of Immigrant Recruits, Reservists from Army is Concerning

Washington, D.C.—In response to continued reports that many immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits are being discharged and having their legal status questioned, Scott Cooper, founder of Veterans for American Ideals and Director of National Security Outreach at Human Rights First issued the following statement:

News from the Week of June 24th

As people protested the Supreme Court's travel ban ruling all around the nation, people in downtown Dallas joined in. One of those was Asad Shalami, a Muslim-American, an Afghan refugee, and a U.S. veteran. "When you are a minority and you go certain places in public, you get looks and stares. Especially if you're Muslim," said Asad. He’s concerned that more and more people are starting to view Muslims negatively because of the Trump Administration.

Gratitude and Patriotism

July 4th is a day of celebration—a day to celebrate America’s independence with the time-honored traditions of grilling, slicing up watermelons, and bringing the whole family together for a dusk fireworks show. I have fond childhood memories of those Fourth of July activities. To me, it’s not just an excuse to kick back and relax, but a time to reflect on why I chose to serve my country.

Introducing Elaina


Hi everyone, my name is Elaina Stephenson and I am the new fellow on the Vets for American Ideals team at Human Rights First. I am so excited to dive into this incredible work, but first I’d like to share a bit about me and how I came to be a part of the VFAI community.

SIV Sips – Honoring Iraqi and Afghan Allies for World Refugee Day

Each year on June 20th, we celebrate World Refugee Day. It’s a chance to reflect on the strife of the world’s 65 million displaced individuals, and the service of Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and translators who face danger as a result of their service to the U.S. mission. But its also a day to celebrate the resilience and to honor their contributions to the United States. It’s a time to listen to and raise their voices.

It can start with something as simple as a cup of coffee.