And Stars & Stripes‘ Leo Shane didn’t today when he wrote a mostly fawning piece on Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and their executive director Paul Rieckhoff today. But waaaaaaayyyyy down the literary handjob;
His high profile makes Rieckhoff an easy target.
Earlier this summer, the military blog This Ain’t Hell uncovered a photo of Rieckhoff from a 2004 Amherst College alumni magazine interview, showing him wearing a Bronze Star and a Special Forces unit patch.
The site — a frequent critic of IAVA — accused him of being a military fraud and a hypocrite in light of IAVA’s support of Stolen Valor laws. Others detractors followed suit.
Rieckhoff defended the medal as a paperwork mistake (it’s listed on some of his personnel paperwork, but not others). He asked for clarification from the Army on the status of the award, but received none. He bought his Bronze Star after being told he had earned the medal, but hasn’t worn it since that interview.
He blames the Special Forces patch on bad timing and enthusiasm. He sewed on the patch days after receiving an assignment to the unit, but pulled it off a few weeks later when that assignment changed. The magazine picture appeared in that small window of time.
That’s not typical procedure, especially for Special Forces. Some critics cried foul, but many just rolled their eyes.
“Would I do something like that? No way,” said another veterans advocate, who asked to remain anonymous. “But if it was anyone but Paul doing this, I’m not sure it would be a big deal.”
Yeah, well, Mr. Bravely Anonymous, it’s a big deal everyday at TAH, no matter who it is. If it had been me, or one of our friends, Rieckhoff and his minions would be crawling up our ass with a microscope. But see, here’s my whole thing; how did the medal get on his DD214 when no orders or citation exist? Rieckhoff signed his DD214, so he was in the room when the clerk typed it up. Did the clerk just think he deserved a Bronze Star? This wasn’t just a paperwork SNAFU. It wasn’t a case of the orders not following him to his next unit. There are no orders.
Sorry, but this just pisses me off that no one else sees this the way I see it. I also noticed that Stars & Stripes completely neglected to mention that Rieckhoff’s first veterans’ organization was OpTruth – nothing more than IVAW in suits. They had Jesse Ventura, VoteVets’ Wesley Clark and Code Pink’s Ann Wright on their board of directors and they were strictly an anti-Bush, anti-war organization. IAVA grew out of that now-dissipated brainfart.
It’s not Rieckhoff’s “high profile” that makes him a target, it’s his hypocrisy that makes him a target. But thanks to Stars & Stripes for giving me this opportunity to address the reasons for my opposition to Rieckhoff in the days preceding the much-anticipated IAVA scorecard which will undoubtedly favor Democrats over Republicans in the upcoming election. I get an opportunity to remind people why they should disregard IAVA’s “non-partisan” tag.