“Defend the First” Will Focus on Threats to First Amendment Rights
Arlington, VA – Today Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) launched “Defend the First” (www.defendthefirst.org), a new project dedicated to defending freedom of speech under the First Amendment. “Defend the First” will take a broad focus on threats against free speech – the ways the government uses private information of citizens to silence dissidents as well as an emerging culture of censorship in America.
In upcoming months, CVA will seek to partner with elected officials and advocates to engage in an open dialogue about the importance of freedom of speech to a free and tolerant society. The group will act quickly to beat back any legislative or regulatory threats against free speech that are identified on a state and federal level.
The project will point to whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as one clear example of how the government seeks to retaliate those who speak out against it. A video featured prominently on the project website features VA whistleblower Brandon Coleman, who was issued a gag order and whose medical records were improperly accessed after he raised the red flag on problems at the facility in Phoenix.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Mark Lucas issued the following statement:
“Veterans fought and sacrificed for the First Amendment, but right now it’s under attack. The government is using private information of its citizens to try to silence those who speak out, and a culture of censorship has stifled the free exchange of information and ideas.
“Veterans know firsthand what can happen when the government uses private information against its citizens. All too often, VA whistleblowers who speak up about problems there face retaliation intended to intimidate them from exercising their rights.
“Under President-Elect Trump and a new Congress, there is a real opportunity to not only beat back threats against free speech, but to actually advance the cause. We face a difficult battle ahead, but as veterans, we know that service doesn’t end and freedom isn’t free. We will fight to defend the First Amendment.”
The organization will kick off the Defend the First event series in Greenville, South Carolina with Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) Monday, December 19. At the event, CVA will team up with Rep. Gowdy to discuss the major threats to our free speech and solutions to preserve the fundamental right.