The Trump Silver Lining – IAVA Founder Responds to Trump’s remarks on McCain

Photo courtesy of

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Over the last few days, almost everyone in America has voiced an opinion on the remarks made by Donald Trump about Senator John McCain’s war service. IAVA has joined every leading veterans group in America in condemning the remarks. This was not about politics. It was about making sure people understand and respect the service of our veterans. IAVA is a fiercely non-partisan organization representing veterans of all political backgrounds. We may have many different views, but are united as a veterans community. And when a national figure attacks one veteran’s heroic service as a POW, it is an insult to us all.

Mr. Trump has shown that there are still people who have never served, but make ridiculous, insulting comments about veterans. Comments that should have been left behind long ago, in the dark days after Vietnam when too many civilians blamed the warriors for the war.

IAVA members from across America and I have had the honor of working with Sen. McCain on key veterans legislation, including the historic Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which, thanks to your support, was finally signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. That inspiring effort united Republicans and Democrats in support of our community-and showed all of America what is possible if we stick together.

But since that historic signing, the national media attention for our issues has waned. The media is not telling the stories of #VetsRising in communities nationwide. They’re not covering the VA backlog or ongoing challenges too many of us face in getting care. And they’ve already moved on from covering the loss of five of our brothers in Chattanooga, Tennessee last weekend.

Last Tuesday, our Rapid Response Referral Team received four calls from suicidal veterans. Four in a single day. Our brothers and sisters are facing challenges transitioning every single day. They are literally calling out for help. And that’s a story that must be told.

If there’s a silver lining in this recent controversy, it’s that the national media is talking about veterans again. IAVA will fight to ensure they use that attention to focus on the issues that matter most to our community–issues like protecting the GI Bill, better support for female veterans and reforming the VA. We’re using this renewed focus on veterans to urge Congress to pass the VA Accountability Act, scheduled for a House floor vote next week, which will allow the VA Secretary to remove staff for poor performance or misconduct. We’ll be in touch with you more about this bill next week.

The important events of this week should push every single presidential candidate–from both parties–to present their own real, specific platform on veterans issues. They should encourage the media to pay attention to all the good our veterans are doing nationwide. They should encourage more companies to hire veterans and they should join us for one of hundreds of awesome #VetTogethers!

As the leading post-9/11 veterans group in America, IAVA has always been focused on connecting, uniting and empowering veterans while communicating an important message to the world:
Veterans are not a charity, we’re an investment. And we are #VetsRising.

Please encourage everyone you know to join us.

Together, we can show America what our community is really all about.


Paul Rieckhoff
CEO & Founder of Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America, Inc.

Paul Rieckhoff is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), America’s first and largest organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

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