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SPLC: More Must be Done to Prevent Extremists Efforts to Radicalize Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In conjunction with today’s House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, “Domestic Violent Extremist Groups and the Recruitment of Veterans,” the Southern Poverty Law Center released a searing inside look at the prevalence of extremism in the military. 
The piece, Extremism Among Active-Duty Military and Veterans Remains a Clear and Present Danger, written by SPLC Research Analyst, Rachel Goldwasser, examines the disturbingly effective efforts by extremist groups to recruit former and active military members and how the lack of resources and support can make returning soldiers and veterans vulnerable to radicalization.  
“The effort to exploit veterans and active-duty military members presents a very real threat to them and our country," said Goldwasser. “These extremist groups work diligently to recruit and radicalize members of the armed forces in the hopes that these members will utilize or teach other group members the skills they learned in the military in order to carry out the groups agenda of hate against their fellow citizens or the government. More must be done to address and prevent their efforts.”   
SPLC Action also submitted a statement for the record to the full committee providing in depth coverage of some of the more dangerous groups, which threaten our democracy at its foundation, such as the Proud Boys, and several policy recommendations for Congress, the Biden administration, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.   
“There is no doubt that extremist groups actively recruit members with military experience, and that people with military experience increase the violent capacity of extremist groups,” said Dr. Cassie Miller, Senior Research Analyst with the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “We are hopeful the forthcoming Countering Extremism working group report from the Department of Defense and the report from the Department of Veterans Affairs, will contain real steps towards addressing and preventing extremism in recruitment, during active-duty service, and the transition to civilian status.” 
The SPLC has been tracking the issue of extremism in the military since the mid-1980s as part of their work monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and extremists. In March, Lecia Brooks, SPLC’s Chief of Staff, provided detailed testimony and policy recommendations to address the problem of extremism in the military for a House Armed Services Committee hearing. In February 2020, she also testified at a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing about white supremacy in the military and how to stop it.