|Occupation||Author, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development|
Brandon Friedman is a writer and public servant. He is the author of the combat memoir The War I Always Wanted and has served since March 2014 in the Obama administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Early life and education
Friedman was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is the son of Steve and Zeldean Friedman. He attended private school through eighth grade, before attending and graduating from C.E. Byrd High School in 1996.
Prior to his work in government, politics, and the media, Friedman served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq. In March 2002, he led a rifle platoon into Afghanistan's Shah-e-Kot Valley in order to engage Taliban and al Qaeda fighters as part of Operation Anaconda—a battle later written about by journalist Sean Naylor in Not a Good Day to Die. A year later, Friedman commanded a heavy weapons platoon during the invasion of Iraq. He led troops during combat and counterinsurgency operations in Hillah, Baghdad, and Tal Afar. Friedman left active duty in 2004 after having spent the latter portion of his Iraq tour as an executive officer managing troop movements, security issues, and logistics throughout northern Iraq as the insurgency intensified. He was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From 2007 to 2009, Friedman served as the Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org, a 100,000-member organization dedicated to getting veterans elected to public office. While at VoteVets, Friedman worked throughout the media to communicate defense, foreign policy, and veterans issues on national television, radio, online, and in print.
In 2009, Friedman accepted a role as the Director of Online Communications at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. In that position, he became "responsible for devising, implementing, and overseeing the Department's emerging media strategy" or, as FierceHealthIT described it in 2011, VA's "burgeoning social media empire." Additionally in 2011, AOL Government noted that VA was "becoming a model for other agencies." Friedman's office and staff have been the subject of cover story profiles in The Washington Post, The Federal Times, Stars and Stripes, and other publications.
The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War: A Screaming Eagle in Afghanistan and Iraq (Zenith Press, 2007) ISBN 0-7603-3150-2
The War I Always Wanted is a non-fiction memoir that details Friedman's experiences in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The book traces his metamorphosis from a young, eager cadet into a disillusioned—but wiser—adult and veteran. The book was released in July 2007 to positive reviews throughout the media and in the military community. While Publishers Weekly gave The War I Always Wanted only faint praise (calling the book "cynical but appealing"), subsequent reviewers were more effusive. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General (Ret.) Wesley Clark called the book "compelling and moving," going on to say that "among the many excellent war memoirs by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Brandon's stands out as the best." Historian Steven Pressfield, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Gates of Fire, called Friedman's work "outstanding non-fiction" and described it as "ris[ing] at numerous points to the level of literature."
Newspapers and journals reacted in similar fashion. The Baltimore Sun proclaimed, "You'll want to read parts aloud," while the Mobile Press-Register described The War I Always Wanted as being "rendered with more literary flair and sophistication than even the accounts by bigwigs," calling it "an elegant meditation on his loss of innocence." In the military community, the Military Times described Friedman's memoir as "vivid, frank, precise and dramatic," while Military Review, the journal of the United States Army Combined Arms Center, concluded that The War I Always Wanted was "tragically compelling" and that "[Friedman's] work is fresh, angry, cynical, and riveting."
Reviews of The War I Always Wanted
- Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007
- Daily Kos, August 19, 2007
- Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2007
- Baltimore Sun, October 21, 2007
- Army Times, October 26, 2007
- Shreveport Times, October 26, 2007
- Mobile Press-Register, January 1, 2008
- Military Review, January–February 2008
- Daily Kos, December 13, 2009
- Military Times, January 2010
- On Violence, February 12, 2010
Friedman's writing has been featured by media outlets including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, the White House Blog, Military.com, Daily Kos, and Time magazine
In the media
Friedman has been interviewed by ABC News, the Associated Press, McClatchy, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, the Military Times, Stars and Stripes, and other news organizations. He has also appeared on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN, as well as on NPR, Air America Radio, Newsweek On Air, and dozens of other radio stations across the country.
Additionally, Friedman has been quoted by media outlets—from Hollywood's Defamer to Golf Digest. However, he has typically been cited by more traditional news sources such as Fox News, Salon, the New York Daily News, The Village Voice, Roll Call, The Politico, and The Weekly Standard.
On July 14, 2007, Friedman delivered the weekly national Democratic radio address. According to the Associated Press, in the address, Friedman said, "The fact is, the Iraq war has kept us from devoting assets we need to fight terrorists worldwide," Friedman said. "We need an effective offensive strategy that takes the fight to our real enemies abroad. And the best way to do that is to get our troops out of the middle of this civil war in Iraq."
In June 2014, Friedman came under fire from conservative critics for posing a hypothetical question on Twitter regarding Bowe Bergdahl. Friedman wrote in a series of tweets, "Here's the thing about Bergdahl and the Jump-to-Conclusions mats: What if his platoon was long on psychopaths and short on leadership? What if he grew disillusioned with what he saw, didn't trust his leadership, and walked off? Legal? No. Worthy of sympathy? Maybe. If that were the case, the soldiers in his platoon would have all the more reason to smear him publicly now. Given other examples, it's not out of the realm of possibility--and more reason to withhold judgment until after an investigation. I'm not a fan of such speculation, but this story could not be more unbalanced--with so many premature calls of 'traitor.'"
Some media appearances:
- "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" interview, August 16, 2007
- "MSNBC's Super Tuesday" with David Shuster, September 4, 2007
- "CNN's This Week at War, September 8, 2007
- "MSNBC Live" with Tamron Hall, October 3, 2007
- "MSNBC Live" with Norah O'Donnell, October 3, 2007
- "MSNBC Live" debate with Joe Watkins, October 3, 2007
- "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" interview, October 5, 2007
- C-SPAN2's BookTV with Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer, November 3, 2007
- "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" interview, June 11, 2008
- Friedman introduces General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.) at Netroots Nation, July 17, 2008
- "Russia Today" interview, November 4, 2008
- "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" interview, May 7, 2009
- "Politico Playbook: Mike Allen's must-read briefing on what's driving the day in Washington". Politico.com. April 1, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "2003 Alumnus of the Year to deliver summer-fall commencement address – LSUS News". Lsus.edu. September 19, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Brandon Friedman bio at VAntage Point: Dispatches from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs". Blogs.va.gov. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Terry, Ken (August 23, 2011). "FierceHealthIT: VA social media policy outlines interaction, patient privacy protection practices". Fiercehealthit.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Hasson, Judi (August 17, 2011). "AOL Government: Veterans Affairs Department Emerges As Social Media Model In Government". Gov.aol.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Rein, Lisa (May 9, 2011). "The Washington Post: At VA, a blogger criticizes from the inside". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Reilly, Sean (May 14, 2011). "The Federal Times: VA's riskiest new recruit: its chief critic". Federaltimes.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Murphy, Jr., Bill (March 24, 2011). "Stars and Stripes: VA enlists harsh critics as it belatedly embraces the Web". Stripes.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "FleishmanHillard Announces New Military and Veterans Affairs Group". FleishmanHillard.com. June 12, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- About the Book[dead link]
- "Reviews of The War I Always Wanted". Brandonfriedman.tumblr.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "The Best Military Books of the Decade – ''Military Times''". Militarytimes.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "The Best Books of the Decade – ''Daily Kos''". Dailykos.com. December 13, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Friedman, Brandon (November 9, 2011). "New York Times: At War – For Soldiers, the End of the Mail Means the End of the War". Afghanistan;Iraq: Atwar.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Friedman, Brandon (September 13, 2007). "Paying with their lives | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk". London: Commentisfree.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Brandon Friedman". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brandon Friedman. "White House Blog – VA, DoD Coming to Grips with the Mental Health Costs of War". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brandon Friedman (October 6, 2009). "White House Blog – VA Goes Green". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brandon Friedman :: Archives – Military.com[dead link]
- Brandon Friedman. "Daily Kos :: Diaries". Brandon-friedman.dailykos.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brandon Friedman, Just Who Do They Represent: At Hagel Hearing, Concern for Israel Tops U.S. Troops in Combat, TIME magazine, February 4, 2013.
- "Political Punch". Blogs.abcnews.com. May 14, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- The Associated Press: Iraq slaying verdict highlights combat stress[dead link]
- Zagaroli, Lisa (April 8, 2008). "McClatchy Washington Bureau | 04/08/2008 | Pentagon tells lawmaker not to air Green Zone video again". Mcclatchydc.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Johnston, Nicholas (November 13, 2007). "Politics". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Erickson, Amanda (April 9, 2010). "Department of Veterans Affairs reaching out to vets via blogs and social media – ''Washington Post''". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Obama eyes posts for Cleland, Holder". Washington Times. November 19, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- You don't have to burn bras anymore – Dallas Morning News[dead link]
- Ed Pilkington in New York (May 15, 2008). "Bush's golf claim angers veterans | World news". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "President George W Bush's golf sacrifice is an 'insult to all Americans', say veterans". London: Telegraph. May 14, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "VA e-mail: Save money, do not diagnose PTSD – Air Force News, news from Iraq". Air Force Times. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Megan McCloskey. "Army caught up in reservist's Obama conspiracy theory – Stars and Stripes". Stripes.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brandon Friedman The War I Always Wanted – Untitled[dead link]
- "''Defamer'' – Gawker’s Column from Hollywood". Defamer.gawker.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Fields, Bill (May 23, 2008). "Golf a Casualty When War of Words Heats Up – ''Golf Digest''". Golfdigest.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Obama Names Gen. Shinseki as Veterans Affairs Secretary –". Fox News. April 7, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Elliott, Justin. "Afghan attack on French troops – War Room". Salon.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Astore, William. "Tom Friedman offers a perfect definition of "terrorism" – Glenn Greenwald". Salon.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Veterans Blast Fox News Analyst Ralph Peters – War Zone, New York Daily News[dead link]
- Amy Silverman (October 22, 2008). "Vets Vs. McCain – ''The Village Voice''". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Defense Dept. Scolds McHenry for Video – ''Roll Call''". Rollcall.com. April 10, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Smith, Ben (April 18, 2007). "RoboCalls Against Iraq War – ''Politico''". Politico.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Quiet Panic – ''The Weekly Standard''". Weeklystandard.com. November 5, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Bush says some Iraqi progress is reason for optimism – Associated Press". Boston Globe. July 15, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "VoteVets Spokesman Admits Their Attack Is Not About What Rush Said". Rushlimbaugh.com. October 5, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brandon Friedman's Tumblr site
- Brandon Friedman's writing on The Huffington Post
- Brandon Friedman's writing on Military.com
- Brandon Friedman on Twitter
- Facebook group for The War I Always Wanted