October 29th, 2009
10:20 AM ET
4 years ago

Rieckhoff takes vets' fight from 'sandbox' to White House

Washington (CNN) - Standing behind the president during a bill signing is a shining moment for any policy activist.

For Paul Rieckhoff, it came last week when President Obama signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act into law.

Having served in the Army for six years and as an infantry platoon leader in Iraq, Rieckhoff knows something about the challenges active-duty soldiers face overseas and later when they come home.

Watch: Rieckhoff discusses his experience in Iraq and Washington

Rieckhoff's experience inspired the 30-something executive director and founding member of the nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America to challenge the way the country supports veterans.

"We can say we really got something significant done," he said on a warm fall day near Capitol Hill. "We used all the tools in our arsenal, ranging from our e-mail list to Facebook to Twitter to folks on the ground, to push forward a really transformative piece of legislation that's going to help a lot of vets."

The IAVA notes the new law will provide "timely, predictable funding for veterans' health care by requiring Congress to approve a health care budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at least one year in advance."

Rieckhoff has come a long way from combat in Iraq. Tailored suits and policy papers now replace his military uniform and M-16.

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Filed under: Veterans
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. JonDie

    Republicans from George W. Bush (a desertor) to Dick Cheney (a draft dodger) to even John McCain (a career soldier and former POW) has ALWAYS treated our soldiers like dirt.

    The most amazing thing is that most soldiers are Republicans, which means the average soldier just can't figure the above out.

    So I'm glad one former soldier did.

    October 29, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. socalgal

    We do not do enough for our vets. If this is a great step forward, let's make many more.

    October 29, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Christian Values

    More proof that democrats are the TRUE party that stands behind our men and women in uniform. Republicans have always opposed any and all bills that would give better treatment and financial support to our returning soldiers. Republicans hover on the brink of treason when it comes to supporting our military. The only thing they know how to do is send them to war, with out care or concern. It takes the democrats to remedy the atrocities that republicans commit on our troops.

    October 29, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Vets4Obama

    Thank you democrats and President Obama. It's good to see a party that TRUELY supports our men and women of uniform. As a veteran I applaud an administration that ACTUALLY treats our men and women how they should be.

    Bravo!

    October 29, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. D. Tree

    The next time someone claims Obama doesn't support the troops, let them remember this.

    October 29, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rieckhoff said this in response to Bush's INFAMOUS Mission Accomplished speech: "Mr. President, our mission is not accomplished."
    This administration is a friend of veterans and active duty military personnel alike. Where Bush myopically failed, Obama has kept his promise, as has Nancy Pelosi. You can disagree all you want with these two, but CHANGE is not only coming, it's already started, and in some key and crucial pieces of legislations that benefit CITIZENS of this country, Change is here. Yes, I'll keep the change we voted for!

    Obama 2012!

    October 29, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Kudos to Riekhoff. Somehow, I suspect we'll have to listen to people being nasty about Obama signing the bill though in light of the "news" media latching on to McChrystal's report in order to stir up a sellable controversy. If y'all had brains in your head you'd realize and accept that taking the time to make the right decision evinces more concern for our troops than does sending an additional 40,000 of them into danger just because ONE person said so. There's a reason the Commander in Chief is a civilian...and you're watching it play out...so suck it up, pantwetters.

    October 29, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |