Over the last week, hundreds of veterans have taken to social media to protest the exclusion of Gary Johnson from a "Commander-in Chief" town hall hosted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization.Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the only candidates to be invited to the town hall, which is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7th in New York City. It will be held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The event is set to be hosted by Matt Lauer in coordination with NBC news.Originally, the IAVA made no mention of Gary Johnson in the event, despite the fact that polls place him as even more popular among veterans than the general population. One poll, conducted by the Facebook page Doctrine Man!, put Gary Johnson at 38.7 percent among active duty troops.Hundreds of veterans and other activists flooded the IAVA Facebook page, inundating it with 1-star reviews, to bring the total rating down to around 2.2. This is no small feat: it took ten thousand negative reviews to bring it down so far.Others have been using the hashtags #IAVAfail and #IAVAFeelTheJohnson to express their displeasure with the IAVA and its CEO, Paul Rieckhoff. Reddit in particular has been a hub of expression for Libertarian veterans upset with the process of choosing whom to include in the town hall.After days of social media barrages, the IAVA finally issued a statement about the issue, but still will not be including Gary Johnson in the September 7th event:
Though Mr. Johnson still does not meet the historical standard for general election meetings between candidates set by the Presidential Debate Commission, IAVA took the extra step to develop our own, more inclusive threshold for a series of ‘Commander-in-Chief Forums.
In the statement, Rieckhoff also made sure to mention that Gary Johnson does not have a veteran's policy section on his website.Dylan Millroy, a Gary Johnson supporter and veteran who has been at the forefront of the controversy, said that Gary Johnson's stance on veterans was simple: Stop sending veterans to war.
Veterans Unhappy About IAVA on Social Media
On social media, veterans were not happy, and showed it. They reduced the rating down to a 2.2 on Facebook with 10 thousand 1-star reviews:
They also hijacked the IAVA's own hashtag, #VetsRising, and used it to promote Gary Johnson causes:
It's unclear exactly why so many veterans prefer Gary Johnson. Many take issue with Hillary Clinton's perceived lack of responsibility for her email sever, and her culpability in the 2012 attacks on the Benghazi terror attacks.Others may see Gary Johnson as the socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate who best mirrors millennial views, many of whom are the veterans voting and campaigning for Gary.