Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, testified Wednesday in front of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
The hearing, titled “Domestic Violent Extremist Groups and the Recruitment of Veterans,” focused on understanding more about how domestic violent extremist groups operate, including how and why they target veterans.
Since 2019, the FBI, the DHS, the National Counter Terrorism Center, the State Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, have all agreed that far-right extremist groups pose our country’s most serious domestic terrorist threat.
“Dozens of veterans have been arrested for their role on January 6, but veteran involvement in extremist activities and groups including the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and Proud Boys has long been a problem,” said Beirich. “The dangers of leaving this unaddressed cannot be overstated.”
In her testimony, Heidi thanked the many military leaders, active duty troops, and veterans who have made it clear that white supremacy and other types of extremism have no place in our Armed Forces, but warned that there is still a serious problem of veterans being recruited and radicalized by extremist groups.
“Recruitment of veterans has been a goal of white supremacist and antigovernment groups for decades, and their aggressive recruitment tactics, particularly their online outreach, work,” she said.
As part of the solution to ending the recruitment and radicalization of veterans, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism believes more dedicated research must be done to learn how and why veterans are radicalized so the government can form an effective response.
“The solution is multi-tiered,” said Beirich. “Veterans need easily accessible support from the Department of Defense, the VA and veterans’ organizations, there must be more screening for new recruits, and regular education for active members and veterans about the threat from these groups,” she said.
Read Heidi’s written testimony.