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Paul Rieckhoff
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Paul Rieckhoff, 33, is the Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). A non-partisan non-profit group with over 100,000 members around the world, IAVA was founded in 2004 and is America’s first and largest Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans organization. Rieckhoff was a First Lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in the Iraq war from 2003-2004. He is now a nationally recognized authority on the war in Iraq and issues affecting troops, military families and veterans.

Rieckhoff created IAVA in June 2004 along with a few dedicated Veterans, a handful of volunteers, and some serious credit-card debt. In just four years, the organization has attracted hundreds of thousands of Iraq War Veterans and grassroots supporters across America. Whether you are an Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran or not, you can become a part of the new Veterans movement here.

The rapidly-growing membership of Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans began speaking out on the airwaves, in congress and in the newspapers. America quickly came to realize that Troops returning from the thick of battle possessed a uniquely informed and valuable perspective. By the beginning of 2005, appearances or statements by IAVA members had made well over 100 million media impressions worldwide. Today, IAVA continues to be a force in the media, in Washington DC--and in cities and towns across America. IAVA conducts a nationwide college tour, testifies at congressional hearings, crafts and supports critical legislation proposed by both republicans and democrats, and recently led the historic (and successful) fight for a new GI Bill.

After graduating from Amherst College in 1998 with a degree in Political Science, Rieckhoff coached high school football, worked on Wall Street, participated in the rescue efforts at Ground Zero on 9/11, and served as an infantry platoon leader in Iraq from 2003-2004. In the spring of 2004, Rieckhoff became one of the first Iraq veterans to publicly criticize the war, call for better care for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and demand accountability from elected officials.

Honored by Esquire magazine as one of “America’s Best and Brightest” in 2004, Rieckhoff has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Recent appearances include: The Charlie Rose Show, 60 Minutes, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360,
Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Hardball with Chris Mathews, The NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, ABC’s documentary “To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports,” The CBS Evening News, Hannity and Colmes, BBC World, NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Real Time with Bill Maher, Tavis Smiley and The Colbert Report.

Rieckhoff has had opinion pieces printed by the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Knight-Ridder and The New York Daily News, and is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post and Military.com. He has been featured in U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, The New York Times, GIANT Magazine, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Army Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The New York Post, Newsday and A.P. Rieckhoff is also the author of Chasing Ghosts, a critically acclaimed
account of his experiences in Iraq and activism on behalf of veterans, published by Penguin in May 2006.

Rieckhoff left his Wall Street job on September 7, 2001 with plans to travel and complete additional military schooling. Those plans changed dramatically on the morning of September 11. Rieckhoff was at
his apartment on 24th Street in Manhattan when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He saw the smoke from his rooftop, and immediately joined scores of volunteers serving in the rescue effort at Ground Zero. His National Guard unit was formally activated for rescue and security operations that evening.

In February 2002, Rieckhoff began Infantry Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He graduated in June of 2002 and immediately volunteered for active duty and a place in the pending war in Iraq. In
January 2003, Rieckhoff was ordered to deploy to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia and was assigned as a Platoon Leader for 3rd Platoon, B Company, 3/124th INF.

His platoon was attached to 1st Brigade, Third Infantry Division (3ID) and spent almost a year conducting combat operations in Iraq, centered in the dangerous Adamiyah section of Baghdad on the Eastern bank of
the Tigris River. Rieckhoff’s Platoon conducted hundreds of dismounted and mounted combat patrols, and his battalion was the first reserve component unit in the Army to be awarded the Combat Infantryman
Badge since the Korean War. All thirty-eight of the men in Rieckhoff's platoon returned home alive.

Released from active duty in 2004, Rieckhoff now serves as an infantry officer in the Individual Ready Reserves. A staunch political independent, he and IAVA are tied to no political party or candidate. Rieckhoff is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the Board of The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, the Board Advisers for The Military Channel, and is a lifetime member of the VFW. He is a graduate of Amherst College and lives in New York City's historic East Village.

For media and press inquiries, please contact (212) 982-9699 or media@IAVA.org.

More info at ChasingGhosts.com and myspace.com/paulrieckhoff

You can also find Paul on Facebook here.

Entries by Paul Rieckhoff

22 Per Day

(2) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 9:58 PM

It's estimated that 22 American veterans die by suicide every day. That's nearly one every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month. That's over 8,000 veterans every year.

And that number almost included Kris Goldsmith.

Kris is an Army veteran from...

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Broken Senate Delays Military Sexual Assault Reform

(23) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 12:34 PM

Senate gridlock and dysfunction has reared its ugly head again -- and this time it's survivors of military sexual assault who will pay the price.

There is an unclear path forward for the critical Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), legislation that would support survivors of military sexual...

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Who Will Stand With Military Sexual Assault Survivors When It Counts This Week?

(11) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 4:08 PM

Serving in the U.S. military requires courage. Coming forward to describe surviving military sexual assault takes even more.

That is what thousands of survivors like those shown in the Academy Award-nominated film, The Invisible War have done. And for every survivor who is able to come forward,...

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The Wait We Carry: Visualization Tool Reveals The True Human Cost of the VA Backlog

(20) Comments | Posted June 24, 2013 | 4:37 PM

Jonathan Goodman served in the Marines and twice was deployed to Iraq. In 2005, he earned a Purple Heart Medal for wounds sustained in a suicide-bomb blast. Returning to the U.S., he has struggled with traumatic brain injury, chronic migraines, anxiety, and pain in his ankles, arms, and back. On...

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Why Veterans Still Need to Hear From the President on the Backlog

(31) Comments | Posted June 7, 2013 | 12:35 PM

Veterans appreciate hearing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney say, in response to a reporter's question, that the president is 'deadly serious' about reducing the VA disability claims backlog -- because this is deadly serious to the veterans community.

Yet, the hundreds of thousands of brave...

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The Season of Service Is Not Just for Vets

(64) Comments | Posted December 14, 2012 | 7:00 AM

For thousands of veterans across America, life during the holidays is going to be tough this year.

After fighting for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're coming home to high unemployment rates and a broken VA system. They're dealing with physical and emotional injuries unprecedented in complication -- from...

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They Know the Way Forward

(2) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 11:55 AM

There are news cycles and then there are news cycles. From Hurricane Sandy to the 2012 Election, the past few days have felt like a marathon to many Americans. (Thankfully not like the New York City one, which was wisely cancelled to commit resources to hurricane recovery efforts.) But as...

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The Daily Show Highlights the Daily Struggle for Unemployed Vets

(11) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 9:09 AM

In a segment last week on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart highlighted the absurd employment market veterans come home to. Hosting a mock job interview for two former Army medics with combat tours in Iraq, Stewart emphasized the challenges veterans face when transitioning to the civilian workforce --...

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How Mikayla Bragg and 31 Soldiers "Fell Through the Cracks"

(25) Comments | Posted October 24, 2012 | 6:52 AM

Alone in a guard tower 6,800 miles from her home in Longview, Wash., Specialist Mikayla Bragg took her own life last December. Bragg's commanding officers at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, had no idea that in the months prior to her deployment the 20-year-old Army specialist had multiple...

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Big Bird Gets a Mention, Vets Left Out Entirely. Will VP Debate Be Any Different?

(179) Comments | Posted October 9, 2012 | 8:51 AM

With one debate down and only 28 days to go until the election, it's time the candidates get serious about veterans issues. Last week, President Obama and Governor Romney squared off, but when it came to our newest veterans, the silence was deafening. If care and support for the 20...

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While the Army Stands Down, Suicide Rates Are Still Up

(103) Comments | Posted September 28, 2012 | 10:47 AM

Yesterday, against the backdrop of the Army's service-wide stand down for suicide prevention, the Army released its suicide numbers for August.

It's not good news.

They reported 25 potential suicides: 16 among active duty soldiers and nine in the reserve component. So far in...

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An "Americafest" for All Our Country's Veterans

(49) Comments | Posted July 4, 2012 | 9:23 AM

For 99% of Americans, this Fourth of July marks yet another annual tradition of barbecues, block parties and fireworks. It's the halfway point of a long hot summer. A day to celebrate freedom, 'Merica, and being born in the U.S.A.

But for the other one percent? The war still

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Solving the Riddle of Veteran Unemployment

(149) Comments | Posted June 22, 2012 | 8:37 AM

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans were treated and appreciated by their nation."

Those words may seem contemporary, but they're not. It's a quote from our first president, George Washington. His words may be from...

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26 Vets vs. 12,000 Lobbyists? It's Time to Level the Playing Field

(74) Comments | Posted March 28, 2012 | 7:42 AM

There are 12,000 lobbyists in Washington. They represent anything and everything from big tobacco to Styrofoam. And they have Congress' ear every day of the year. Unfortunately, most of us don't have that kind of political pull. And neither does our veterans' community -- even though they deserve it. That's...

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How to Stereotype Our Military as Drunken Beggars: A Case Study in #MediaFail by Dr. Drew

(301) Comments | Posted March 21, 2012 | 10:49 PM

On Monday night, Dr. Drew did us all a big favor. He covered the Kandahar shooting incident on his HLN cable show in such a sensationalized way, that it should serve as a powerful example for how the media should NOT cover an issue -- particularly one as devastating...

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Mr. President: Americans Want to Welcome Home the Troops, Too

(80) Comments | Posted February 15, 2012 | 11:34 PM

A White House Dinner symbolizes a grateful country--but it's only a start.


In December, after eight years of combat, 32,000 Americans wounded, and 4,400 lives lost, the President told America that the Iraq war was over. And civilians nationwide began organizing parades--most notably, one for 100,000 people in St. Louis....

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If the Giants or Pats Get a Parade, Shouldn't Iraq Vets?

(274) Comments | Posted February 2, 2012 | 6:03 PM

The ticker-tape parade is a slice of Americana as old as the Statue of Liberty. It's an honor reserved for a select few (sort of), from astronauts returning from space to military heroes to beloved politicians like Teddy Roosevelt. It's also happened for baseball player Sammy Sosa, and even...

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It's Time for the President to Prove He's Brady or Eli for Vets

(27) Comments | Posted January 24, 2012 | 6:47 AM

If the NFC and AFC title games from this past weekend reminded us of anything, it's that America loves clutch performances. The first three quarters are great for backdrop, but it's performing when the pressure is at its highest that creates the best memories and the biggest stars. A quarterback...

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A Message to All Candidates: Our Troops Aren't Props

(629) Comments | Posted January 10, 2012 | 12:10 AM

Our troops are many things to many people. Heroes, parents, diplomats, victims, villains, victors. But as the GOP Primary races roll through New Hampshire this week, there is one thing that all of America must understand they're not: political props.

And that's not just my opinion, it's the law.

This is why...

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The Unsung Heroes of War -- Our Families

(64) Comments | Posted December 8, 2011 | 2:27 PM

"Service members enlist. Their families are drafted."

That familiar refrain has been uttered time and time again on American military bases across the globe during these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There's a lot of truth found in it, and such a reality rarely ends when a service member returns...

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