The war in Ukraine is the fight of our time. Ukraine’s fight is America’s fight. But support for Ukraine in America is under attack–from outside of America and from within–and now is the most perilous time for Ukraine yet.
Like a political candidate running for re-election, Ukraine must be publicly supported and defended to ensure victory. Ukraine needs a strong, trusted and nimble advocacy machine that can hit hard, fast and often.
Especially now, as extreme, anti-Ukrainian politicians have successfully slowed Ukraine funding and chipped away at public support. This has been compounded by assaults on Ukraine by powerful media voices from the far-right. The new war in Israel and Gaza have only further distracted and encouraged disengagement in Ukraine. Many are arguing that America will have to choose one or the other. Or, the border crisis or Ukraine. Or, or, or. It’s a false choice that must be combatted. Enemies of Ukraine must be challenged on every TV network, in every Congressional hearing, and on every social media platform.
Ukraine needs a powerful, coordinated, non-partisan, well-resourced advocacy machine led by trusted voices to drive communications, public support and funding.
American veterans are uniquely positioned to do that.
We American veterans have a strong understanding, connection, interest and capacity to support Ukraine. We stand ready to guide, communicate and unleash that collective power.
Our mission is clear:
support victory for Ukraine.
Our two main lines of effort to ensure that mission is accomplished are:
1. Driving public support for Ukraine.
2. Protecting continued US government funding for the war. We will also challenge individual high-net-worth donors to follow the lead of those who have already donated to support Ukraine.
The veterans community already strongly supports Ukraine. A July poll of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) members revealed Post-9/11 veterans overwhelmingly support Ukraine.
AVU LAUNCH - MARCH 2024:
We will announce our creation of AVU to the world with a national conference of American veterans in support of Ukraine in March, in Washington, DC. We will invite VIP veterans including General David Petraeus, Admiral Mike Mullen, Sebastian Junger, filmmaker Ken Burns, and many other longtime allies, IAVA Board members, friends and supporters of Ukraine.
We will also immediately create a regular battle rhythm of high-profile support visits to Ukraine led by Medal of Honor Recipients, retired General and Admirals, celebrity veterans and other powerful allies. These leaders will visit the front lines, deliver resources and messages of support, meet with President Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian officials, who will then return to the US to walk the halls of Congress to meet with legislators and engage in a media tour to encourage support for Ukraine.
We will stand-up an HQ/hive/war room in NYC at/near the World Trade Center—next to the 9/11 Memorial—with a media studio, event space, and workplace for our team and allies. The symbolism of this facility will be tremendous–and allow for Ukrainian VIPs visiting NYC to have a high-profile place to show respect, appreciation and unity. We will also launch a series of events—styled after TED or Aspen Ideas—that will drive additional activity, donations and media attention.
The AVU Founding Team
Paul Rieckhoff – Founder and Vice Chairman of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), President of Righteous Media, Host of Independent Americans, National Security and Political Analyst for MSNBC and NewsNation, US Army Veteran. Paul has been an outspoken supporter of Ukraine in the American media from the start.
Bonnie Carroll – Founder and President of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), TAPS Ukraine, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient. A retired USAFR Major and also the surviving spouse of an Army Officer, Bonnie has TAPS programs operating now on the ground across Ukraine.
Matt Gallagher – Renowned Author of works including Empire City and Youngblood, celebrated journalist, US Army Veteran. Matt was among the first American veterans to travel to Ukraine to personally train Ukrainian defense forces, and has reported on the war for Esquire and others.
Adrian Bonenberger – Author, Reporter and Editor for Military.com and others, Founding Member of Yale University Veterans Association, US Army Veteran. Adrians’s wife, Iryna Solomko, is a correspondent for Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service. After helping his wife’s elderly parents escape Ukraine after the invasion, Adrian has made multiple trips to Ukraine with Matt and other American veterans to train and support Ukrainian forces on the ground.
Nolan Peterson – Independent defense consultant, award-winning journalist, war correspondent, and author who has lived in Ukraine since 2014. Peterson is a former US Air Force special operations pilot and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the US Air Force in 2011, Peterson completed a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he was a McCormick Foundation fellow. Peterson’s work has been published by numerous news outlets. He has written for outlets including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox News, BBC, Newsweek, and Coffee or Die Magazine. He is the author of Why Soldiers Miss War: The Journey Home and several fiction collections. He is currently the nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.
Bottom line: We American veterans are ready to fight for Ukraine. And America.
We are ready to lead. Like Zelenskyy, we just need ammunition.
AVU is structured as a program sponsored by TAPS International. TAPS is a 501c3 that can receive tax-deductible donations now.
With $3M to cover the first year of operations, we will be the veteran-led air campaign in America to support the ground campaign in Ukraine.
We are preparing to launch publicly in the March.
Thank you for your time, leadership and support.
TAPS is a 501c3 that can receive tax-deductible donations now. IRS Tax Identification Number for TAPS International is # 82-2135523