Veterans for Common Sense Leadership
Anthony Hardie is a veterans advocate, former public official, and a longstanding national leader on Gulf War health issues. He has been called to testify before Congress on veterans’ issues on several occasions, and has been frequently quoted in the national media on issues related to veterans. He has received numerous awards and commendations for his veterans’ affairs service, including from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Wisconsin State Legislature, Disabled American Veterans, and AMVETS.
Since the program’s creation in 2006, he has served with the treatment-focused U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) on Gulf War Illness (GWIRP) as a consumer reviewer with the program’s managing Integration Panel. Since 2014, he has also served as Chair of both of the External Advisory Boards for the program’s two Gulf War Illness research consortia, one located at Boston University, and the other at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He previously served from 2006 to 2013 on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC). He served on the VA’s Gulf War Steering Committee from its inception in 2010 until it concluded its work in 2012 developing a strategic plan for VA for Gulf War Illness research.
He served as a public official with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) from 2003 to 2009 as the agency’s third-in-command, Executive Assistant for Legislative, Public, and Intergovernmental Affairs. In that role, he also provided legislative and other support to the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA). From 1999 until joining WDVA in 2003, he served as a Congressional staff member in the office of then-Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.
Prior to his public service, he was an early leader of the former National Gulf War Resource Center from 1995 to 2000, including serving as a popularly elected member of its Board of Directors, as National Secretary, and as National Vice-President. He served as a founding national officer of Veterans of Modern Warfare (VWW), including as Legislative Chair, National Treasurer, and National Secretary.
He served with the U.S. Army from 1986 through 1993 with six overseas tours of duty, including two combat tours: the 1991 Gulf War, and Somalia. His military awards include the Bronze Star medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with silver oak leaf cluster, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and numerous others.
He is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and the Defense Language Institute. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison following his military service. He is a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and a member of AMVETS and Florida Veterans for Common Sense (FLVCS).
He is the author of 91outcomes, a website that provides Gulf War health and news, including for VCS. He leads VCS’s policy and advocacy efforts and serves as VCS’s spokesperson with the media and public officials.
Dan Fahey was commissioned in the U.S. Navy through the ROTC program at the University of Notre Dame and 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 and regularly spoken on depleted uranium (DU) from spent munitions and its potential role in veterans’ health problems. Dan served on the Board of Directors of the former National Gulf War Resource Center and the Military Toxics Project.
He served as a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2006 to 2007 in Sudan, with the International Peace Institute in 2009 as an expert coder for compliance with UN Security Council sanctions regarding war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as a research consultant with the International Peace Information Service in 2009, as visiting faculty at Deep Springs College in 2010, as Research Director of the Eastern Congo Initiative in Goma, DRC from 2010 to 2011, and as a United Nations contractor in Goma, DRC since 2013.
Dan is past Post Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5888 in Santa Cruz, Calif. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California at Berkeley, with a focus on armed conflict in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, and a post-doctoral in Political Science at Colorado College. He is the author of numerous book chapters, policy papers, and scholarly articles.
Erik Gustafson is a founding director of Veterans for Common Sense, and Executive Director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), an organization he founded in 1998. He is a U.S. Army veteran of the 1991 Gulf War. Witnessing the consequences of war has fueled a life-long passion for peace-building, human rights work and humanitarian advocacy.
Following his military service, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue a degree in education. While there, he led the Madison chapter of the East Timor Action Network, supporting East Timor’s right to self-determination. In 1997 and 1999, he traveled to Iraq to investigate the deterioration of humanitarian conditions under Saddam Hussein’s regime and the most comprehensive economic sanctions ever imposed in the history of the United Nations.
In 1998, Gustafson moved to Washington DC and established EPIC to improve humanitarian conditions and promote human rights in Iraq. Under his leadership, EPIC has hosted dozens of policy forums and led humanitarian advocacy on Iraq in Washington DC.
Among his many accomplishments, Erik has:
- Led research, advocacy, and field work to serve young people and educators in Iraq and the region; (1998-Present)
- Organized Iraq Action Days, which helped generate $1.8 billion in funding for war-affected Iraqis and other vulnerable persons worldwide (2008);
- Directed a countrywide professional development program for Iraqi human rights defenders while living and working in Iraq with DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI); (2009-10);
- Led EPIC’s first youth project in Iraq, the Iraqi Youth Hike, in partnership with Nature Iraq; (2011)
- Raised awareness to the region’s growing humanitarian crisis and the needs of the region’s displaced and vulnerable populations located in Syrian refugee camps and Iraqi IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to assess the response; (2013)
- Connected and facilitated partnerships between Iraq and U.S. agencies and institutions.
Erik’s role with Veterans for Common Sense includes helping guide policy formulation and aiding with non-profit administrative and compliance issues.
Gene Jones is an attorney, author, and founding member and longstanding President of Florida Veterans for Common Sense. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a linguist and analyst from 1964 to 1968. He practiced law in Sarasota, Florida until his retirement in 1999.
He is the author of Adventuring in Paradise, a non-fiction outdoor recreation guide for Southwest Florida, and Suwannee Divide, an historical novel about Florida during the Civil War. The Sarasota Herald Tribune and other Florida media have published his guest columns.
He is a frequent lecturer and instructor about Florida during the Civil War, and is a regular speaker on behalf of Florida Veterans for Common Sense on veterans and national issues.
Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive, and is the author of more than a dozen fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America’s Future. He is a member of The Authors Guild and the Association of Independent Authors.
He served in the 1991 Gulf War as a tank crewman with the U.S. Army’s 24th Infantry Division. He was the founding executive director of the former 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 South Hadley, Mass.
Mike Zacchea is active in veterans affairs and Iraqi refugee affairs, and has been featured in numerous national media venues discussing the Iraq War and veterans’ issues.
He was commissioned as 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 Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Arts from Hawaii Pacific University, and he is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Advanced Artillery School, Amphibious Warfare School, and Law of Land Warfare course.