A group of military veterans on a 21-state bus tour stopped in Greenville Thursday to talk about the dangers of climate change and its threat to national security.
Among the veterans was Brian Vanriper. “We need America to turn the corner,” he said, “from relying on regimes that we don’t really want to be doing business with but we’re forced to. We want to develop diverse energy that comes from home, including wind and solar, stuff that already exists.”
Besides Greenville, the group also stopped in Columbia. The tour is being sponsored by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups.
Retired Marine officer and State Senator John Courson welcomed the vets. A train enthusiast, Senator Courson has traveled on several occasions by rail to Churchill in northern Manitoba where he has observed the impacts of climate change first hand. Stated Courson, “I have a 13-year-old son. I hope that one day he considers joining the Marine Corps. But I don’t want him involved in fighting oil wars in the Middle East.”
State Representative James Smith, who in 2007 served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, also welcomed the veterans: “We are all in this together. This is an effort that knows no party. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our country safer.”