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MVJ’s Counter-Disinformation Program is a nonpartisan initiative dedicated to combating the spread of disinformation and extremism in veteran and military communities. The program supports a team of journalists, including several military veterans, to report on anti-democratic extremist groups and narratives and engage directly with the community online to counter extremist recruitment efforts.

The spread of disinformation is a threat to our nation. Disinformation narratives used by extremist groups are especially dangerous in military and veteran communities, where widespread belief in false narratives can have serious consequences for national security and the well-being of those who have served. The Counter-Disinformation Program seeks to address this problem by providing accurate and fact-based reporting on issues affecting military and veteran communities and countering false and extremist narratives that undermine public trust in our nation’s institutions.

The program is made possible through the support of our funders – the Knight Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and the MacArthur Foundation – whose generous contributions have enabled us to bring together a team of experienced journalists and media professionals to lead this fight against disinformation and extremism.

Several organizations have joined MVJ in support of this effort. Military Times, a trusted, independent source for news for the military and veteran communities, is a key managing partner of the project. In addition to Military Times, MVJ is partnering with two other prominent military- and veteran-serving publications — and Task & Purpose — on this project. Additionally, the Associated Press is partnering on this effort to help ensure national coverage on these issues. The Poynter Institute and PolitiFact will train the team on fact-checking and investigative approaches, and the Task Force Butler Institute will teach best practices for investigating extremist groups. The University of Alabama’s Veterans and Media Lab will research the military and veteran community’s consumption of information and trust levels in media. MVJ will also support We the Veterans and START at the University of Maryland in community engagement efforts.

Meet the team of reporters and media professionals who are leading MVJ’s effort to counter the spread of disinformation among service members and veterans:

Allison Erickson

Investigative Reporter, Disinformation & Extremism

Allison Erickson is a U.S. Army veteran and a former Medical Service Corps officer. During her service, she rose to the rank of captain and completed a combat deployment to Afghanistan, where she earned the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.
Erickson's journalism career began before she became a soldier when she studied editorial journalism at Texas Christian University. She wrote for publications such as the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Texas Monthly, and The Point. After transitioning back to civilian life, she earned a master's degree in creative publishing and critical journalism from The New School in New York.
Erickson has worked freelance assignments in print and digital news and produced podcast reporting on topics such as migration, politics, and health. She previously served as MVJ's Texas Tribune Military Affairs Reporting Fellow for 2022. In this role, she covered military and veteran affairs in her home state.
Carla O, Counter-Disinfo Marketing Manager

Carla O

Marketing Manager

Carla O is a former combat correspondent and news director for the U.S. Marine Corps. She has also worked as a writer, editor, and policy analyst. With a focus on social media, O strives to make information accessible, transparent, and engaging. She holds a Bachelor of Science in public policy and a minor in writing from Oregon State University, as well as an associate degree in psychology from the University of Maryland Global Campus. O is a distinguished honor graduate of the Defense Information School.
Photo of Hugh Harsono, Counter-Disinfo Strategy Consultant. Pictured here wearing a suit and tie and with his hair slicked.

Hugh Harsono

Strategy Consultant

An Army veteran originally from San Francisco, CA, Hugh Harsono has a professional background focused on a mix of strategy, innovation, operations, and policy work for different emerging technologies. He has finished a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of California, Berkeley and completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied economics. Harsono has previously been published by TechCrunch, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, Hacker Noon West Point’s Modern War Institute, and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Nikki Wentling

Beat Reporter, Disinformation & Extremism

Nikki Wentling is a former reporter for Stars and Stripes who covered issues affecting veterans, service members, and their families. She reported from Congress, the White House, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as throughout the country. Wentling previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Denver Business Journal. She is also an alumna of the Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellowship. Wentling has been recognized for her reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic and, in 2018, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking by the nonprofit HillVets.

Advisory Board

Dr. Anne Speckhard

Director/Founder, International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

Dr. Anne Speckhard is the Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. As an expert in interviewing terrorists and extremists, she has developed counter-narrative projects that utilize real testimonials to discredit extremist ideologies.

Christa Sperling

Co-founder and Board Member, We The Veterans

Christa Sperling is a Co-founder and Board member of We The Veterans, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening American democracy by empowering the veteran and military family community. Through her work on the Mis-/Dis-/Malinformation (MDM) Working Group, Christa contributes to novel solutions that counter misinformation.

Doowan Lee

CEO & Cofounder, VAST-OSINT

Doowan Lee is a technologist and national security expert specializing in aggregating, detecting, and analyzing large-data sources related to foreign and extremist information operations. Lee's work has focused on studying, mitigating and preventing the harms of malign influence exploiting the openness of the information environment.

Ellen Gustafson

Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, We The Veterans

Ellen Gustafson is a Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of We the Veterans, empowering the veteran and military family community to strengthen democracy. With her background in entrepreneurship and social impact, she contributes to building effective strategies to counter disinformation and promote a more inclusive society.

Erin Saltman

Interim Executive Director, Director of Programming

Dr. Erin Saltman is the Interim Executive Director and Director of Programming at GIFCT. She has worked in the technology, NGO, and academic sector building out counterterrorism strategies and programs internationally. Dr Saltman’s background and expertise includes both white supremacy and Islamist extremist processes of radicalization within a range of regional and socio-political contexts. Her research and publications have focused on the evolving nature of violent extremism online, youth radicalization, and the evaluation of counterspeech approaches.

She was formerly Meta’s Head of Counterterrorism and Dangerous Organizations Policy across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. She also spent time as a practitioner working for ISD Global and other CT/CVE NGOs before joining GIFCT. Dr Saltman is a graduate of Columbia University (BA) and University College London (MA and PhD).

George Chewning

Deputy Director, Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation,

George Chewning is a veteran advocate and technology expert who has served in various roles, including as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Department of Veterans Affairs. His experience at the intersection of technology, policy, and well-being contributes to developing innovative solutions to combat disinformation.

Jeff Scheop

Founder, Beyond Barriers

Jeff Schoep, Founder of Beyond Barriers, brings a unique perspective as a former leader of a neo-Nazi organization. Through personal transformation, he now dedicates himself to helping individuals leave extremist organizations and supports communities affected by extremism.

Kristofer Goldsmith

Founder & CEO, Task Force Butler

Kristofer Goldsmith, a former US Army sergeant turned advocate and investigator, specializes in countering disinformation and extremist recruitment efforts targeting American troops and veterans. His work at High Ground Veterans Advocacy and Sparverius, LLC focuses on training veterans and detecting and disrupting disinformation campaigns.

Marty Skovlund Jr.

Task & Purpose, Editor in Chief

Marty Skovlund is an award-winning journalist and editor-in-chief of Task & Purpose. Known for his narrative long-form storytelling, Marty's coverage of high-profile events and conflicts provides important perspectives in countering disinformation and shaping public discourse.

Scott M. Parrot

Associate Professor in Journalism and Creative Media, The University of Alabama

Scott Parrott is an academic researcher specializing in media representations of mental illness and how exposure to media content influences attitudes and behaviors related to mental health. His expertise in media studies brings unique insights into the impact of disinformation on public perceptions and provides valuable guidance for countering such narratives.

Zachary Fryer-Biggs

Managing Editor

Zachary Fryer-Biggs is the managing editor at and an experienced national security journalist. With a decade of experience covering defense and security issues, his expertise in investigative reporting contributes to the development of effective strategies to counter disinformation campaigns with high-quality journalism.

Training Partners

The Counter-Disinformation Program team has trained with a variety of partner organizations to provide more comprehensive coverage serving the military and veteran communities. The PolitiFact and Poynter Institute teams conducted sessions on effective fact-checking and tracking down bad actors via investigative journalism. Task Force Butler Institute’s trainers shared their expertise in investigating extremist groups, and the Solutions Journalism Network team offered insights on covering disinformation with a solutions-oriented approach. Project Over Zero’s trainers covered ways to strengthen societal resilience against identity-based division via journalism.

The training these partners have provided is instrumental in equipping our program team with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to navigate the complex world of disinformation and extremist engagement. We thank them for their contributions and collaboration.


This year’s Military Veterans in Journalism Convention and Career Fair is coming! Mark your calendar for October 5th through 7th and join us at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

We have some exciting sponsors this year, including Disabled American Veterans, Spectrum News, WBD Sports, NBCUniversal, With Honor and IRE.

Grab your ticket and book your hotel room at the convention venue today!