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Veterans tour makes stop in Mesa

The Defend Freedom Veterans Bus Tour is travelling across a dozen states and includes gatherings at veterans' events, town hall meetings, sporting events, public rallies, and other outreach activities. (Concerned Veterans for America Facebook page)

PHOENIX -- A national tour of decorated military veterans will be hosting events around the Valley on Monday and Tuesday, all part of an effort to get local veterans involved in issues that affect them.

For three weeks, The Defend Freedom Veterans Bus Tour is traveling across a dozen states from Nevada to the East Coast providing a platform for U.S. military veterans, their families, and the public. The goal is to encourage veterans to become more active in policy-making.

"It's about honoring the service of veterans, talking about how they can still defend freedom here at home and then compelling them to take action," said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, the organization sponsoring the tour.

"It's not enough to talk or debate or discuss," said Hegseth. "We've got to get involved in the process of fighting for our country and the freedom and prosperity that make it great."

Issues to be discussed include registering to vote and reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs, particularly the 500,000 backlog of veterans' benefit claims. The group also discusses reforming Pentagon spending and tackling the national debt, which they say is both an economic and security threat.

Among those speaking on the tour is Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who led the battalion involved in capturing Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The group will be at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, located in the Mesa Riverview shopping center, from 5-9:30 p.m. on Monday.

For more information on the Defend Freedom Veterans Bus Tour, visit their website.

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