Our History and Mission
Based on the pragmatic ideals of the American patriot Thomas Paine, VCS works to raise the unique and powerful voices of veterans, so that our military, veterans receive a square deal. Veterans for Common Sense also strives to ensure that America’s national security and long-term prosperity are protected and enhanced, for ourselves and for future generations.
Veterans for Common Sense is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We are supported primarily by individual donations from our members.
What We Do
- Grassroots policy advocacy and public education
- Public relations to influence policy using media and public speaking engagements
- Public speaking engagements and media interviews
- Op-eds and letters to the editor to educate and raise issue awareness
- Propose,consult,co-author and edit legislation
Board of Directors
Charles Sheehan-Miles, President
Charles Sheehan-Miles served in the 1991 Gulf War as a tank crewman with the 24th Infantry Division. A bestselling novelist, he was the founding executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in the 1990s and co-founded Veterans for Common Sense in 2002, then served as the organization’s executive director from 2003-2006.
Charles currently lives in Bethesda, MD.
Dan Fahey, Board Member
Dan Fahey was commissioned in the Navy through the ROTC program at the University of Notre Dame. Dan served in the Persian Gulf in July 1991 on board the USS Arkansas (CGN-41). From 1993 to 1998, Dan was a paralegal at Swords to Plowshares, a non-profit veterans advocacy group providing housing, counseling, job placement, and legal services to veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dan has extensively researched the role of depleted uranium (DU) from spent munitions in veterans’ health problems. Dan served on the Board of Directors of the National Gulf War Resource Center and the Military Toxics Project.
Dan is past commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5888, and received his masters degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California at Berkeley, where he is researching armed conflict in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
Paul Sullivan, Board Member
While at VCS in 2007, Paul led the VCS effort to sue and win a major court case against VA (http://www.veteransptsdclassaction.org/) in 2011, prompting several reforms at VA. Paul has testified more than twenty times before Congress in the past 14 years on issues important to veterans, especially fellow Gulf War veterans.
During his two-decade career helping veterans, his advocacy prompted major reforms within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The significant improvements include legislation expanding healthcare, benefits, and research for Gulf War veterans, expanding to five years the length of time for free healthcare for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and pushing for new regulations for PTSD, ALS, and TBI as well as a shorter VA disability claim form.
Prior to leading VCS, Paul worked as project manager (GS-14) at VA, where he monitored Gulf War, Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans’ VA benefit use. Before working at VA, Paul worked as the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, where he successfully pressed for passage of the Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998, a law significantly expanding healthcare and disability benefits for Gulf War veterans.
Paul served as cavalry scout with the Army’s 1st Armored Division during the invasion of Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of West Georgia and a master’s certificate in project management from George Washington University. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Mike Zacchea, Board Member
Mike Zacchea was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1990. Trained as an artillery officer, he served at Camp Lejeune as a forward observer and platoon commander, deploying to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope and to Haiti for Operation Support Democracy. He served as operations officer and executive officer of a Marine recruiting station. He was selected for advanced artillery school, and went on to command two artillery batteries and serve as a battalion assistant operations officer. He served another tour on recruiting duty in the northeastern US. In March 2004, as a major, he deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. His team’s mission was to build, train, and lead in combat the first Iraqi army battalion trained by the US military. After an initial 4-month training period, his advisor team led the Iraqi battalion in combat operations for 7 months. During this time, the battalion participated in Operation Al-Fajr, the 2nd Battle of Fallujah. The battalion spent 6 weeks in urban combat, the longest of any deployed Iraqi unit, and accomplished a number of historical firsts for the Iraqi army. During the battle, Mike was wounded, but declined to be medically evacuated.
Mike’s military awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award), a Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and numerous unit and campaign awards. Mike was also the first and at the time only American recognized by the Iraqi government by the Order of the Lion of Babylon. As a result of his wounds, Mike was medically retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Mike’s education includes a BA from the University of Notre Dame, an MA from Hawaii Pacific University, Advanced Artillery School, Amphibious Warfare School, and the course in the Law of Land Warfare. He is active in veterans affairs and Iraqi refugee affairs, and has been featured in numerous national media venues discussing the war and related issues.
Gene Jones, Board Member
Gene Jones was a founding member and current President of Florida Veterans for Common Sense. He served in the Air Force as linguist and analyst (1964-1968). Retired after a career practicing law in Sarasota, Florida. Wrote the book Adventuring in Paradise and guest columns for the Sarasota Herald Tribune and other media.