Christiansen served in the Army Reserves from 1997 to 2005, including a tour in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.
Today he is part of Vets on a Hill, an event scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. Sept. 17 and 18. Vets on a Hill, sponsored by Vets for Freedom, provides veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war an opportunity to attend a series of meetings with members of Congress and press conferences attended by 6,000 veterans nationwide, including a few hundred from California.
The trip is paid for by donations garnered by Vets for Freedom. "The funds are probably gone after this," said Christiansen, "but they are enough to cover 10 veterans in California and about 150 around the U.S."
Christiansen, the California state coordinator on behalf of Vets for Freedom, feels that United States congressmen need to hear firsthand what is happening in Iraq from the veterans themselves. "Most people haven't been in Iraq," said Christiansen. "We are trying to raise awareness that us being in Iraq is valuable and valid. What you see on the news isn't a balanced view of Iraq. This group, Vets for Freedom, is trying to balance that."
Vets on a Hill will be a chance for veterans to explain what they think would be best for the troops, either to pull out or stay for a longer phase. The organization doesn't criticize veterans for their personal views. "Vets for Freedom is a give and take. It's not Republican, it's not Democrat; it's not for the war, it's not anti-war. The fact is we're there, and we have to do what's best for our country."
Christiansen hopes that congressmen don't use the Vets on a Hill event to score political points and a photo-op with the veterans. "That's what I'm afraid of, to be honest. I have a feeling that to some of these guys, it is not going to make a difference," said Christiansen. "Maybe they hear us, but (believe) it's too far down the line to put a stop to anything. I hope they take it seriously and consider what we have to say."
Christiansen, whose passion is the soldiers' welfare, says he is willing to take time to talk with anybody. "I just want to talk to the right people. We need to do what's right for the soldiers, and right now they see a nation divided back home."
Vets for Freedom hopes to organize more ways for veterans to speak their minds. "Right now, it's all geared toward this trip," Christiansen said. "I'm sure there will be something else soon. It's guaranteed - we're not going away."
For more information, visit www.vets forfreedom.org or contact Christensen by e-mail at email@example.com.