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The Vets for Victory Leadership Team


Steve Russell - Chairman and Founder

Steve Russell commanded the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry and was a central player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein. His unit was featured in Discovery's 'Ace in the Hole' and BBC Panorama's 'Saddam on the Run.'  Russell speaks across the US and Canada, rallying the American public to support the troops with victory, not just words.  Russell turned down promotion to colonel and a war college fellowship to Kingston, Canada to retire from the US Army after serving 21 years in Airborne, Light and Mechanized infantry assignments in the Arctic, the desert, the Pacific, in Europe and in the Continental United States. He served more than 7 years overseas and has deployed operationally to Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.  He settled his wife and 5 children in Oklahoma and founded Vets for Victory to combat defeatists on the home front and encourage Americans to support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Russell travels extensively as an exclusive speaker for Premiere Speaker's Bureau and is a war analyst on radio and television and in the print media.  He serves as the Chairman of Vets for Victory.  Click here to read more




Scott Rutter - Vice Chairman and Founding Member

Scott Rutter commanded the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry in Iraq.  This was the unit that assaulted and took the Baghdad International Airport in a daring maneuver, which was broadly recognized, ultimately earning the Presidential Unit Citation.  Lt. Col. Rutter was decorated with the Silver Star for this brilliant and deadly action. Rutter retired from the US Army after serving 21 years in Air Assault, Light and Mechanized assignments in the desert, the Pacific, and in the Continental United States. He served several years overseas and has deployed operationally to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq.  He covered the dealy assault on Fallujah in November 2004 as a Fox News correspondent.  Now settled in New York with his family, Rutter also serves as the National Spokesman and Member of the Board for TAPS -- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. He is booked extensively on college campuses through Young America's Foundation, is published widely in periodicals, and is a regular analyst in radio and televised media.  He serves as the Vice Chairman of Vets for Victory and is the founder and Principal of the Valor Network.  Click here to read more




Ed Pulido - Vice Chairman for Veteran Affairs and Founding Member

Ed Pulido, while serving a combat tour in Iraq training the new Iraqi Army, hit an improvised explosive device (IED) or road side bomb. Due to the extensive injuries to his left knee the doctors had to amputate his left leg on October 1, 2004. For his heroism and valor on that August day the President of the United States awarded Major Pulido the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Joint Service Achievement Medal. Pulido’s story of courage has been featured on Time Magazine, Fox News, CNN, and many state television stations and newspapers. Since, his amputation, Pulido has been a staunch advocate for individuals with disabilities. He is spearheading an effort to provide benefits counseling for other soldiers who have experienced life changing injuries and amputations, through a new program he helped develop called Heroes Helping Heroes or Heroes Support Network.  Medically retired with full benefits from the Army, he returend to his pre-war occupation as Vice President of Oklahoma City United Way.   Click here to read more




John Reitzell - Veteran Coordinator, Speaker and Founding Member

John Reitzell served as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 82d Airborne before being sent to Vietnam and assigned to the 4th Infantry Division as a rifle platoon leader. After being wounded he was reassigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Long Range Recon (Ranger) Company. After Vietnam, Reitzell began a long classified assignment in the Joint Special Operations Command.  While in JSOC, he deployed on over 35 “real world” operations in support of the Nation’s counter-terrorism program. The invasion of Grenada, the hijack of TWA 847 to Beirut, the insurgency in El Salvador, and the seizing of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro are examples of these missions. Reitzell's exploits have been noted by such renown authors as Tom Clancy and WEB Griffin. During this period he was also detailed to serve as the Reagan Administration’s DOD lead for crisis response. After the U.S. Army War College, Reitzell assumed duties as Chief of Current Operations US Special Operations Command in Tampa. Reitzell retired after commanding a brigade and is a Senior Principle Program Analyst for Dynetics Inc. in Alabama. He was inducted  into the Madison County Hall of Heroes in 2002.  Click here to read more




Chris Hardwick - Blue and Gold Star Family Coordinator

Chris Hardwick is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and served in the U.S Army from 1972 to 1974.  Eighteen months of his service was with the A Company, 5th Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery headquartered in Baumholder, Germany as a part of NATO forces.  After his service in the army, he attended the University of Oklahoma and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysics in 1980.  Chris has worked in the oil & gas industry as a geophysicist for the past 27 years.  Chris now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma and works for an oil company in Oklahoma City. In 2003, Chris' son deployed with the 82nd Airborne to Iraq and returned home a year later.  The war had affected both his son and his family in positive and negative ways.  The 'Blue Star Blog' was his brainchild to provide a place to note the challenges that familes of service members face during deployments and to exchange ideas on how to get through them better. 




Kevin Pannell - Peer Counselor and Speaker

Kevin Pannell joined the Arkansas Army National Guard at the age of seventeen and served with the C Company,153rd Infantry in Iraq. On June 13th, 2004, while on patrol with his squad, Pannell was severely wounded in an ambush when two grenades exploded at his feet.  Through C Company's heroic efforts, Pannell was given life-saving first aid and evacuated.  He recovered from his critical condition but lost both legs as a result of his wounds.  His story of perseverance and sacrifice has been one of inspiration, from his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center, to the promise he kept to meet his brothers from C Company at the plane when they returned from Iraq.  Today, his selfless efforts to mentor and counsel struggling amputees returning from war sets an example of courage, patriotism, commitment and sacrifice. He now resides in Arkansas, where he advocates for the disabled as a spokesman for First Person Inc., a group of severely injured Iraqi war veterans who strive to educate the American public about the war on terror.  Kevin has appeared on FOX News, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN, HBO’s Inside the NFL as well as numerous magazines and radio programs including Popular Mechanics and In Motion.  Click here to read more

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