Iraq Vets Launch Ad Campaign

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An ad produced by a nonpartisan veteran’s group aims to draw attention to Iraq war veterans in the weeks leading up to the presidential election.

Operation Truth, a non-profit 501c4 group, aired the spots multiple times on CNN during Oct. 20, to coincide with the final presidential debate. The group is also airing radio spots, voiced by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, in 140 markets.

“You can’t form a full position about the war, pro or con, until you hear from the vets and all their stories,” said Eric Schmeltzer, spokesperson for Operation Truth.

The TV ad features SPC Robert Acosta, a 20-year-old ammunitions specialist with the 1st Armored Division, who lost his right hand and the use of his left leg when a grenade was thrown into his Humvee near Baghdad International Airport in July 2003.

In the ad, he explains his disillusionment with the war. “So when people ask me where my arm went, I try to find the words, but they’re not there,” Acosta says, removing a prosthetic to reveal the stump of his arm.

Although Schmeltzer says he doesn’t think the war is wrong, he says people need to get the full story from the people who were there: “We just want to get people thinking about the war and the real cost of it.”

The group is critical of both presidential candidates. Sen. John Kerry hasn’t been realistic about the need for more troops in Iraq, Schmeltzer says, while President George W. Bush hasn’t been honest about the shortcomings in war planning that have hurt the troops.

“Both candidates have to talk more frankly about what’s going on there and really address the issues,” Schmeltzer says.

As for future media buys, the group is taking it day by day. “It’s a grassroots fundraising effort, so the more money we have coming in, the more we’ll be able to buy and do. I wish I could say there was some wealthy Texan sitting behind us, but unfortunately not.”

The spots are viewable on the group’s Web site ( The ads were produced by North Woods Advertising CEO and Chief Creative Officer Bill Hillsman, who worked for Ventura on the veteran and former wrestler’s upset victory in the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial race.