Florida Veterans for Common Sense began in Sarasota, Florida in 2002 during the run-up to the Iraq War. As the drumbeat for war intensified, three Vietnam era veterans questioned the government’s position that the war would be short and easy and that the Iraqi people would greet American troops as liberators. Also, like Vietnam they noticed “intelligence” used to justify the war appeared to be propaganda and not based on reliable information. As they talked about the impending invasion with others, these three veterans learned they were not alone in their opinion and that, in fact, many other veterans shared their concern about another counterproductive war.
Knowing that other veterans shared their concern, the three veterans sought local veterans groups to speak out against the invasion. What they found disappointed them. Not only were other veterans groups not warning against the folly of invading Iraq, they were promoting it. As a result, these three veterans sought out and easily found several other like minded veterans and they decided to form their own organization to express their concerns publicly and effectively. The initial group met informally to consider ways to influence public opinion in opposition to the Iraq invasion, to take positions on other important national security issues and to help the troops and veterans.
They decided that a central theme of the group was needed and they choose to dedicate their actions towards informing the community on matters affecting national defense, active duty military and veterans’ issues. The small group had little political or media experience, but the members encouraged each other to speak out against the Iraq war and endeavored to inform candidates for political office with facts and analysis that supported a reasonable basis to oppose the war. After the Iraq invasion, the group noted that, like Vietnam, the returning soldiers were not appreciated by the public like they deserved. Worse, our own government failed to give the returning soldiers the medical and psychological care they needed. The group also noticed that, like Vietnam, American soldiers were fighting and dying in a country half way around the world without a clearly defined mission as if nothing been learned from the Vietnam War. Many members believed that continuing the Iraq occupation was not in the best interest of the United States or that keeping soldiers in Iraq made America safer. The group debated vigorously the conduct of the war and a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.
In time, a consensus emerged that the United States should completely withdraw from Iraq at the end of 2007. During this time, the group operated as a voluntary association as an affiliated chapter of Veterans for Common Sense, a national veterans advocacy group. But, in time the group learned that operating as a voluntary association limited its ability to grow and educate effectively. So, in August 2007, the group incorporated as a non-partisan 501 (c) 4 tax-exempt veterans advocacy corporation as Florida Veterans for Common Sense Inc.