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.