You can’t write about Rieckhoff without mentioning TAH

| September 5, 2012

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.

Category: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Comments (23)

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  1. Green Thumb says:

    I have said it once and I will say it again.

    Rieckoff and his group(s) are turds.

  2. E. Haskell says:

    “He blames the Special Forces patch on bad timing and enthusiasm.” So, that’s it! It was the patch’s fault. Alternatively, it is suggested that he was victimized by bad timing and guilty only of being gung-ho.

    Nice work, Leo Shane III. As Buggs would say, “What a ma-roon.”

  3. 2-17 AirCav says:

    Aw, hell. I forgot to change my name from the other thread. Gave myself right up. Talk about a ma-roon.

  4. NotSurprised says:

    Rieckhoff is slick. He will somehow come out of this with a late award of a Bronze Star with Valor despite the fact no one has come out to support his claim. He has the liberal media fawning because he went to a very liberal school. They love him because he validates their views and “looks the part” of a grunt. We know the type, a spot lighter. Someone who seeks glory and attention. Which is probably why his command denied him a Bronze Star.

    Who was his commander? Someone had to recommend him for an award. This shouldn’t be hard to research. BN commander?

  5. JAGC says:

    If the veterans who signed up on the IAVA website learned that they were attaching their names to an organization directly tied to Code Pink, the IAVA would see a massive exodus. Even socially libertarian or vets who lean liberal on social issues would not want their name and service associated with such an extreme and irrational group as a nexus between IAVA and Code Pink reveals. I personally believe that Rieckhoff uses the number of people who sign up on his website as the impetus to speak on behalf of all veterans. Rieckhoff needs to avoid this fact or it will seriously dent his ability to cite numbers.

  6. JA says:

    Please forgive the novel. But this post came at the just the right time as I had literally just finished musing over lunch about a theoretical framework for SV cases. Oddly enough this guy was high in my thoughts:

    TAH uncovers a rather surprising number of fools and felons stealing the valor of others. While it is a bad act any time a person pretend he or she is something that he or she is not or claims to have been awarded a decoration they have not earned, there has to be some hierarchy of fools. Also, there should be a tailored response to how we address these folks. Please accept this humble proposal for a system for evaluating the exact degree of idiocy we are confronted with.
    The following makes for a 25 point scale based on three main criterion and a consideration of aggravating or mitigating factors. These are explained in greater depth bellow. The 25 possible points of shame can be assigned for:
    1) Magnitude of the lie: 10 points.
    2) Intent: 5 points.
    3) Harm and extent of the deception: 10 points.
    4) Aggravation/Mitigation

    II. Magnitude of the Lie.
    All lies are bad. However, we can all agree that some are worse than others. Quantifying the scope of the lie is not easy. More or less, in cases of stolen valor, an approximate value of the lie can be determined by looking at the gap between the false claim and the individual’s actual service. The following ten point scale is a guide but is neither perfect nor precise. There is some subjectivity here. Thus a soldier who deployed but never saw any combat who claims to have been awarded the Silver Star is not as big a lie as a civilian who does the same. How to evaluate a real Purple Heart recipient “leg” infantryman who claims to be Airborne is a little harder, but we can figure these things out. As a note: the MOH is special. It does not matter how honorably one served, claiming a MOH falsely gets you a perfect 10 on the Lie-o-meter. Other than that, assign a numerical value to the real service and subtract that from the false claim to get the magnitude of the lie.
    10: MOH
    9: DSC or multiple high medals for valor.
    8: The Silver Star
    7: Long SF service, extensive combat in several campaigns, the PH, BS/v etc…
    6: Veteran of a lot of combat. A long and honorable career.
    5: Deployed with some action. A 20 year career. Long combat arms experience. Ranger, Airborne etc…
    4: Deployed with no combat. Combat arms experience.
    3: Honorable service without a deployment.
    2: Short service.
    1: Did not clear basic/OTH discharge
    0: None. Walked by a recruiting office once.

    Again, this scale is not precise but is meant to provide a guide of sorts. There is a lot that can be debated. For example, a long period of SF service without any deployment is rated above a combat heavy deployment. I am not sure if that is fair or not.

    II. Intent:
    The “why” is important. What the person was thinking will definitely affect how that person should be handled. A person out to defraud old-folks and real veterans is a lot worse than some bar-stool braggadocio or a fashion statement gone wrong. Up to five points of shame can be awarded for intent:
    5: To intentionally discredit the military/vets. Or to defraud vets.
    4: Simple fraud.
    3: discreditable personal gain: to get adulation or to get laid.
    2: Bar Stool Braggadocio.
    1: Carelessness or dumb stupidity.
    An example of carelessness would be using a silver oak-leaf instead of a bronze one accidentally or because it was all that was available. Putting an “IRQ I served” oval on the car to show support of troops rather than to intend to deceive is also in this category as would be a fashion statement gone horribly wrong. The case of the musician wearing outlandish military outfits (senior enlisted rank on sleeves with stars on the lapels) would also fit here. The fake SFC who wore ASUs to his wedding is probably a 3.5 on this scale. Lowry is a 3 or perhaps a 2.5.

    III. The Harm and Extent:
    It really matters both how far the deception went and how much damage was done. These two categories together can be worth ten points of shame. Key here is how elaborate the deception was. Was this just a verbal statement dreamed up on the spur of the moment or did the guy go out and buy himself a full dress uniform (that has to set one back 500$ when all is said and done) along with the ribbons, badges etc… Forged docs just make it worse. Also consider what sort of damage was done and how big a stage it was.
    10: Damage- Someone got really hurt and/or six figure damage
    Extent- Full blown false identity, appeared on national TV, real forgery.
    8: Damage- High five-figures
    Extent- Purchased and set up full dress uniform. Appeared in local or regional press. Spent real money to further deception.
    6: Damage- Four figure damages
    Extent- Appeared repeatedly in uniform. Made written statements regarding false service.
    4: Damage- someone bought him drinks because of his false service. Wore a med
    2: Said he was a SEAL to the guy next to him in the bar. No one believed him.

    IV. Aggravation and Mitigation:
    There are factors that can either excuse the bad action or make it worse. These are cumulative but cannot push the score over 25 or drop it below zero. Some examples of mitigation or aggravation include:
    1) Mental Illness- sick people cannot really control their actions and should be pitied more than hated. Up to 5 points of shame can be deducted for severe mental illness.
    2) National Guard or Reserves- Their records are routinely jacked up. It is much harder for them to fix their records, lots of units are VERY informal about awards and decorations. From experience, I have had any number of paperwork screw-ups and been told all kinds of bogus information (like this was title 10 orders when they were title 32 ect…). Cut reservists and national guardsmen some slack with their paperwork.
    3) Youth- young people do stupid things. Often they don’t understand how serious their act is. Three points.
    4) A good apology- Remorse, admission of fault, and a promise to stop the bad act has to count for something.
    5) Threats (violence or lawsuits)- A response to file a BS lawsuit or to hurt someone (veiled or explicit) adds up to five points of shame.
    6) Doubling down on the stupid- sending a forged DD-214. Add five points of shame.
    V. Responses:
    This will quantify the asshattery involved onto a 25 point scale. Where they fall on the scale should determine the response.
    0-5 points- only a spot correction or some other similar education is needed. This is usually a low grade idiot or a simple mistake. Taking off the schmuck’s head would be counter-productive.
    6-10 points – This is a serious mistake that needs to be nipped in the bud. A sternly worded response letting them know exactly how low a form of life they are or how heinus their action was. Severe stupidity is involved here. However, a private response should be sufficient. Unless they start aggravating the situation.
    11-20 Full blown villainy and/or epic stupidity. There are no excuses here. Either the act was so bad or the intent was soooo wrong that a public shaming is in order.
    21-25: Start handing out the torches and pitchforks. Good candidate for the next Ballduster McSoulpatch tourney.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    @6. That was long but interesting and funny.

    Question: How do you classify a guy like Eddings that was faking disability (wheelchair)?

    That is low.

  8. Chip@NASA says:

    @6 JA,

    (starts slow Golf Clap) A++ Would read again!!

  9. JA says:

    @7. Yeah, that is low. If I recall he claimed combat injury – severe at that- (7 Points of shame). His intent was to defraud (4 points). He went to serious lengths and got thousands of dollars and appeared all over the place (8 points). Total 19. Agrivation -PRETENDING TO BE DISABLED IN A WHEELCHAIR- 2 points. Result 21 Points. Get me a pitch-fork, you carry the torch, round up more villagers.

  10. DefendUSA says:

    This makes me despise the IAVA even more than I do. Every. Time. that mother-effing commercial comes on, I just cringe. Just remember that what goes around will come around and one day…Reickhoff will get his.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Check out the Miller Highlife commerical where there collecting bottles caps for funding Vet causes.

    At the end, there’s the IAVA logo….

    Wonder if Miller Brewing knows about IAVA’s connections?

  12. JP says:

    Code Pink dresses up like vaginas, and Rieckhoff is a big bald douche. Match made in heaven (or hell?)

  13. Twist says:

    @3, Yes you confused the hell out of me in the other thread.

  14. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    An a$$hat is an a$$hat is an a$$hat…

  15. Owain says:

    “Sorry, but this just pisses me off that no one else sees this the way I see it.”

    John, the vast majority of people see this EXACTLY the same way you see it, and most certainly, everyone who has come to depend on TAH to blow the whistle on pus pockets like these feel the same way as you, also.

    Don’t make generalizations based upon the opinions of idiots.

  16. 2-17 AirCav says:

    @6. I truly appreciate the attempt to quantify Stolen Valor but I just can’t get there from here. If a person claims honors not his, there is no excuse, justification, or mitigation for that unconscionable act. There are no degrees of stolen valor, in my view; Those who steal valor are all guilty of the same offense, regardless of motivation. If one such thief defrauds someone in claiming honors not his, then he has merely committed an additional offense, not a more grievous one than another who ‘merely’ stole valor. As for damages done, it is fixed at the point of the theft and its victims are those living and departed who rightly earned the honor.

  17. JAGC says:

    @16… I also appreciate JA’s work. However, his formula rests solely with the individual and not the bigger picture. For example, if we have a ton of lower-tiered “low-grade idiots” and/or severe stupid-heads on this issue, it ultimately cheapens the legitimate valor earned by the rest of us. The questions and lost respect will slowly permeate into the mainstream consciousness. As such, a bunch of Rieckhoffs running around doing stupid things causes big-picture harm as more of a slow roll. Couple this with the Tim Poes and Jake Dilibertos, and it can have a long-term effect on the reputation of military valor and credentials.

    I may be overthinking this waaay to much, but it’s something to consider beyond mere individual asshattery.

  18. 2-17 AirCav says:

    @17. No, I do not regard your considerations as overthinking the matter. It suggests another reason to appreciate JA’s effort. We are better able to rebut those who would dismiss or disregard an offender as a fool or buffoon, or who attempt to compare and contrast the circumstances of one SV thief with those of another.

  19. Steelrain says:

    I dropped my membership from that org when they started to heavily pimp Obamacare.

  20. streetsweeper says:

    Behave yourself Air Cav or the MP’s are gonna come looking for ya…*cackle*

  21. ABNGramps says:

    I was told that I was awarded the MOH, and I have the “personal paperwork” to back it up. It’s not on my DD 214, because the Army hasn’t told me anything about my award. Oh well, I’ll just wear it any way. That’s OK right? Everyone does it. What a douche.

  22. Steadfast&Loyal says:

    wait a minute. If he had orders to a unit and those orders were changed…the original order would still be around. It’s not like it gets thrown away. Orders are orders and they are AMENDED.

    I had orders to Airborne School as a cadet. Days before I was to leave (from FT Lewis) the orders were changed (not enough time to complete until school started….bugger).

    All were documented. I still have them. Orders sending me from Lewis to Benning. Then cancelling benning and then orders from lewis back to my home station.

    One thing is certain. Bureaucrats like their paperwork and you can trace anyone in the military/government by the paper trail they leave.

    My money is on that the order never existed…..but only an insider would know how full of shit he is.

  23. SGT Ted says:

    Wearing a medal without orders or sewing on an SF patch when you don’t belong to the unit are ALWAYS unsat. Any Officer knows this. Rieckhoff is a douchebag.

    @20 31B4H here. Im not seeing any Article violations to charge in here. 🙂 carry on.