Zzz Leadership

Veterans for Common Sense Leadership (2018-20)

National Chair & Director

60137_10150260519910245_7274029_nAnthony Hardie is a veterans’ advocate, former public official, and a longstanding national leader on Gulf War veterans’ health, toxic wounds, and other veterans’ issues. As VCS’s National Chair and Director (2014-Present), he leads the organization’s policy formulation and public advocacy efforts.

He has served with the treatment-focused Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP), part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD),  as a consumer reviewer with the program’s managing Programmatic Panel since the program’s creation in FY2006, as its Chair from FY2015-2019, and as Chair Emeritus since FY2020.  From 2014 to their conclusion in 2019, he served as Chair of the GWIRP’s two External Advisory Boards for the two Gulf War Illness Consortia (GWIC) located at Boston University and Nova Southeastern University.

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-GWVI).  He served on the VA’s Gulf War Steering Committee from its inception in 2010 until it concluded its work in 2012 to develop the first-ever VA strategic plan for Gulf War illness research.

He served with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) from 2003 to 2009 as its third-in-command, overseeing Legislative, Public, and Intergovernmental Affairs (the position has since been renamed as Assistant Deputy Secretary).  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, he served as a Congressional staff member for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, with responsibilities including veterans affairs, the military, and economic development issues, among others.

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 (VMW), 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 that included two combat tours: the 1991 Gulf War, and Somalia.  His military awards include the Bronze Star medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (4 awards), Army Achievement Medal (6 awards), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Parachutist Badge, and various others.

He has testified numerous times before Congress, federal agencies, and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences) on veterans’ health issues, and has been frequently interviewed and quoted in the national media on issues related to veterans’ health and benefits.

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 (DAV), and AMVETS.  In June 2017, he was awarded the Ozonoff Unsung Hero Award by the Boston University School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health.  In February 2020 he was awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense Gulf War Illness Research Program for chairing its programmatic panel from Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019.

He is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.  Following his military service, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with triple majors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

He is the author of 91outcomes, a Gulf War health and news website.  He resides in Florida.

National Vice Chair

paul_color_pix_05-01-2012Since his return from the Gulf War, Paul Sullivan has devoted his entire career to advocating on behalf of and assisting fellow veterans with quickly obtaining healthcare and disability benefits they earned.

He has held leadership positions in government, the private sector, and non-profits for the past 25 years, successfully advocating for significant improvements in how our nation’s veterans are treated, including the Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998.

Paul has testified before Congress more than 20 times as an expert witness, including before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) budget, Gulf War Illness, VA’s disability claims process, and voting rights.

He has been an invited guest on these and related issues on many occasions on television news networks and broadcasts, including CNN, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, ABC, Fox, and “60 Minutes.” He successfully pitched hundreds of positive and informative news stories about veterans’ issues and has been interviewed and quoted by reporters from the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Austin American-Statesman, USA Today, Army Times, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, Associated Press, and many others.  He has been an invited speaker on these and related issues at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas, Boston University, and many others.

Paul is a U.S. Army veteran who served as a cavalry scout in the 1991 Gulf War.  Following his military service, he worked at the National Gulf War Resource Center, the VA, Veterans for Common Sense (Executive Director, 2006-2012), Bergmann & Moore, and Deputy Secretary for Communications at the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet).  He continues his advocacy for veterans and Bergmann & Moore.

After returning home from the Gulf War, Paul used his G.I. Bill education benefits and earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in political science from the University of West Georgia.  He then earned a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.

Paul is a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion, AMVETS, and the American GI Forum (AGIF). He resides in the Washington, DC area.

National Secretary

authorphotoCharles 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 to 2006.

Charles currently lives in South Hadley, Mass.

National Financial Officer

0-vpjD1eErik 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.  He resides in Washington, DC.

National Board Member

Erin M. Cole is an international trade and development expert with over 20 years of experience in Europe, Russia and Central Asia. She began her career as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army working in Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence and Civil Affairs; she is a Gulf War combat veteran (Operations Desert Shield and Storm). Erin holds an Executive Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse University (SU) Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies from SU’s Institute of National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT). A native of Buffalo, New York, Erin also holds a BA degree with majors in International Relations and Russian from the University at Buffalo. Erin started her own small business selling female military collectibles in 2001 and co-founded Veterans for Common Sense with fellow Gulf War veterans in 2002. She lives in Lockport, NY with her husband Vlad and dog Cherry.

National Board Member


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.

National Board Member

jonesGene Jones is a retired attorney, author, and founding member and the longstanding President of Florida Veterans for Common Sense and the Florida Veterans for Common Sense Fund.

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 Paradisea 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 numerous guest columns he has authored.

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 policy issues.  He lives in Sarasota, Florida.



7 Responses to Zzz Leadership

  1. Rainey Owen says:

    My Grandson, Cpt. Matt Smothermon, survived three major IED events while serving in Afghanistan. While he had no external, visible injuries when he returned, he continuously suffered the aftereffects of these events – sleeplessness, the ‘spaced out’ feeling, fatigue, inability to focus or concentrate, loss of thought while in the middle of a sentence, easily distracted, etc. He was diagnosed with Traumatic Barin Injury (TBI).
    My grandson, because of his experience – and ‘repair’ by receiving Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, is vivid testimony to how effective this treatment is in giving Veterans their lives back.
    Since then, there is increasing evidence that the injury to the Brain from the explosive effects of blast-injury are very similar to the ‘bends’ that sometimes affect divers – (micro)-bubbles, brain dysfunction, focus problems, and all the others. This effect is in addition to the bruising, tearing, and swelling of the Brain that comes from being thrown and tossed about as a result of an explosive event.
    I would like very much to meet with someone from your Organization to discuss how we can get this treatment made available to the 125,000 Texas Veterans that are daily trying to deal with the effects of their Traumatic Brain Injury. For reasons that I do not understand, this healing treatment is not available from either the VA nor from TRICARE. With over 600 Texas Veterans committing suicide each year, there must be more we can do, hopefully before the next Legislative Session.
    I will be glad to provide you with background and published documentation about how this treatment has ‘repaired ‘well over 400 Veterans across the Country.
    Please call me at 979-542-7909.

  2. Private Snuffy says:

    Get off the gun control crap before it bites you in the ass. Mr.

  3. ttbroberg says:

    Here looking for Veteran’s *Coalition* for Common Sense to see what’s up with the aforementioned gun control crap. Different organization – this one isn’t new, no “Coalition,” no Petraeus et al.

  4. Team VCS says:

    They are a different organization, but with a similar sounding name (We are “Veterans for Common Sense,” they are “Veterans Coalition for Common Sense”). Veterans for Common Sense is not affiliated with Gen. Petraeus’ “Veterans Coalition for Common Sense”. See: http://wp.me/p6knyO-2uU

  5. Team VCS says:

    You are correct, thank you for your astute observation. They are a different organization, but with a similar sounding name (We are “Veterans for Common Sense,” they are “Veterans Coalition for Common Sense”). We are working now on a response. We are not affiliated with them.

  6. Team VCS says:

    You are correct, thank you for your astute observation. They are a different organization, but with a similar sounding name (We are “Veterans for Common Sense,” they are “Veterans Coalition for Common Sense”). We are working now on a response. We are not affiliated with them.

  7. Richard E Freeman says:

    VCS was started as a group for against the 2003 OIF going back into the middle

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