Why I am cancelling my IAVA membership immediately PART I

| October 7, 2008

I’ve always been a little leery of IAVA, right from the start. I personally like Paul Rieckhoff, and have friends who speak highly of him. I like the fact they stayed neutral on the war, instead advocating on behalf of veterans regardless of their position on the war. Well, today I’ve come to realize they are another hack organization masquerading as non-partisan.

A couple of months ago I met one of the IAVA reps, spoke with him and gave him my business card. About a week later I got a full package in the mail explaining the benefits of my having joined IAVA. I was shocked, since I never said I wanted to join, and had no interest in joining. But, hey, a veterans group looking out for the troops, I can stomach the fact I disagree on several issues and figured I wouldn’t raise a stink by demanding they remove me from the rolls immediately.

And I maintained that position right up until today when I got this absolutely absurd, biased and factually inaccurate “Congressional Report Card” email. My BS detector got off to a rip roaring start when I hovered over the link and found that it went to IAVA through “Democracy in Action.” For those not aware of this craptastic organization:

DemocracyInAction.org believes technology can be a decisive force for social change. We exist to empower those who share our values of ecological and social justice to advance the progressive agenda.

Great. So, while I paid no dues, as a Member in good standing of IAVA, I apparently support ecological and social justice initiatives in line with my progressive agenda. That sounds like me, doesn’t it?

My first look over the report card had me screaming “EPIC FAIL!!!” in my office.

I noticed some real “luminaries” in the veteran’s movement with solid voting scores: Baghdad Jim McDermott got an A. Maxine Waters got an A. Dennis Kucinich got an A. Jim Marshall (the guy who is in the Ranger Hall of Fame, visited the troops more than 99% of other Members of Congress, and who has an open door policy for veterans) well, he got a B. Duncan Hunter got a C.

So I start looking at the votes that went into compiling this steaming, fetid, fly-infested pile of [Democracy in Action]…

13 votes, with 4 of them being unanimous and 5 more passing with fewer than 15 “nay” votes.

Here’s a perfect example of one of the other votes that IAVA uses, the 286-140 vote in favor for “Funding Veterans’ Health Care, 2007.” Now, any rational person reading this far into the report would likely have a “holy shit” moment trying to figure out who the 140 sonsabitches were who voted against funding veterans health care. I mean really, how could you? Did you beat puppies on the way home and throw a cat in a blender too?

No, as a matter of fact, the damn bill was a continuing resolution. It didn’t specifically deal with veterans’ health care anymore than it dealt specifically with Health and Human Services funding or funding the Department of Justice. So, if I were a Congressman with an axe to grind with the Legal Services Corporation and I wanted to make it known, I would vote against this bill (which was going to pass regardless) and put out a press release that I felt we ought to stop wasting our money on such a useless organization. And IAVA would score me as voting against veterans. This reminds me of the old “Won’t you do it….for the childrens….”

How about another one, the “Expanded Veterans’ Benefits” vote… I don’t suggest looking it up on Thomas, no such thing exists. This vote was (according to IAVA) for the National Defense Authorization Bill for 2008. According to these luminaries citing to House Vote #1151, December 12, 2007:

As a part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2008, Congress included a number of improvements to veterans’ benefits. Perhaps most significantly, the 2008 NDAA extended the amount of time new veterans have to seek VA health care. Before the passage of this legislation, any veteran who did not seek care within two years of leaving the mili¬tary risked losing coverage altogether. The 2008 NDAA gave veterans five years to access care.

Call me a radical if you will (I can brave your slings and arrows) but I would say the most significant thing about the 2008 NDAA was actually keeping a military up and running. Don’t get me wrong, the extra 5 years for veterans is very nice, but if I am forced to chose between authorizing our military, and allowing us to get into VA facilities for 5 years, I think I will take the military. But, clearly IAVA was referring to this being the most significant of the veterans improvements; and JUST AS CLEARLY, this vote had very little to do with those improvements.

What is more is that the entire diatribe by IAVA is inaccurate. House Vote #1151 dealt with the NDAA for 2008, but was from the First Session of Congress, H.R. 1585. The one that became law was from the second session, and was HR 4986 and became Public Law No: 110-181. Now, the President vetoed the first one (1585) because of things that had nothing to do with veterans, instead it dealt with legal immunity for the Iraq Government. In other words, Vote #1151 didn’t grant ANY veterans five more years, it did however, bring about the untimely demise of a number of trees which the bill was written on and then unceremoniously stamped with the Presidential “get this crap off my desk” seal.

Incidentally, if IAVA meant to use roll call vote # 11 from 16 January instead of the #1151 that they did cite, please forward an apology to Representative Mike Michaud of Maine, the representative of my extended family in Bangor Maine. He voted Nay on the First, and Aye on the second. Since both had IDENTICAL provisions dealing with the 5 year provision, why is it that the geniuses in IAVA used the first vote that never became law, and ignored the second one?

OK, so putting aside the 9 overwhelming votes, and the two that don’t deal with what IAVA purports to show that they do, we are left with only 2 votes. And both of them are the GI Bill. And just to sweeten the pot, you get 2 extra points on this scorecard if you cosponsored the Bill. (Extra Points? Are you kidding me? I got extra points in 7th grade social studies for a diorama I did of Indians meeting Pilgrims, is this the same thing? Yeah, pretty much.)

Anyway, I will skip the GI Bill votes for now, and address those in part III to this trilogy. In Part II, I will look at how totally awesome Obama is, and now McCain is the suxor. Or, at least, that’s what the complete hacks at IAVA would have you believe.

If you take any voter guide seriously, you really need to look in the fine print. Look for IAVA’s scorecard on a TV near you, and laugh at how no one in the media bothered to research any of this crap.

Category: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Politics

Comments (43)

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  1. LT Nixon says:

    You sound like Joe Biden, “I like Paul, but I’m going to rip his fucking head off!”, haha. This is a pretty interesting expose though. It just goes to show how important veterans issues get tied up with other crappy, nonsensical legislation in our lowly-rated legislative branch.

    TSO: More like: I like Paul, but he’s getting tied up in some serious partisan bullshit. Frankly, I was more surprised than anything. Still like Paul, but someone over there is trying to screw people over with this ranking thing, and more suckers out there will buy into it because they won’t look it up on Thomas.

  2. Jonn Lilyea says:

    It’s the same reason I dumped my DAV membership back in the 90s within 6 months after joining. Nothing but partisan hacks hiding behind the troops.

  3. LL says:

    You know about the original group that Paul Rieckhoff started, right? Before they morphed into IAVA? Ask JP Borda about them. He used to write on the site before he basically got ran off. It was called OpTruth.org. Same website url, but not as carefully disguised message way back when.

  4. Raoul Deming says:


    I remember researching IAVA when back when and realized that something wasn’t right.

    Want to say I recall Wild Wesley being associated with it. If that file reaches the top of the inbox, I’ll share…

    TSO: Yeah, Vote vets splintered off when IAVA wasn’t radical enough for them. Apparently they are trying to bring them all back under the same roof or something. I don’t know. In veterans issues, no straight look at votes like this works because the issues are always too complex. Some vote against the MILCON bill because it doesn’t have enough VA funding, others because they think it has too much pork. Are both of them equal?

  5. Just A Grunt says:

    I found that story through a different route and my reaction was the same. After seeing who received which grade I thought I was on IVAW instead of IAVA. I am glad to see you discovered they are a part of the Democracy In Action network. I didn’t bother to go through the details other then looking at the titles of the bills. Maybe it is because I knew some of the reasons for voting against some of these bills, which were rationale in light of what was snuck into the bills, I dismissed this as more leftist propaganda, but then I realized that veterans and those serving weren’t the target of this slanted view. It is the 95% of Americans who have no contact with the military and can’t tell a navy Seaman from a Army soldier.
    It is just like Biden trying to say McCain voted against funding for the troops when in truth the bill in question had timelines for withdrawal. A later version without that requirement passed.
    The National Defense Budget has always been the favorite target for earmarks since it is considered a safe bill. You want to cut defense spending? Cut all the earmarks and you will probably trim it by 10%.
    So yet another leftist group who has a veneer of legitimacy wrapped up in the disguise of Americans who wear the uniform has exposed themselves, but the damage is done and this “report” will touted by all as definitive evidence that Dems support the military and Republicans are bad.

  6. DanNY says:

    The subject of IAVA came up some months ago in the Gathering of Eagles forums when someone posted a link to that organization suggesting it as an advocacy agent for OIF vets.

    I had first come across IAVA when I discovered they marched in the NYC Veterans Day Parade in 2007. Intrigued by the prospect of another veterans group to add to our network I began to do a little homework on them.

    First I noticed how well funded they were when other organizations are just scraping by hand to mouth. When I found they had full offices and staff in Washington more alarms began sounding. Knowing approximately how many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans there are, and knowing that none of the OIF veterans I know had ever heard of them I couldn’t figure how any new organization could afford what they had on what must have been meager dues income.

    Secondly I discovered that all the congressional backers of IAVA were the same people who were trying to cut off funding for our troops and ‘cut and run’ from the war in Iraq.

    Third I began reading the things Paul Rieckhoff had written and watched some of his interviews on Youtube. It was readily apparent to me that he was not on the same page.

    Fourth I went through their links pages and nearly all of them went to left wing organizations.

    So when the subject came up on GOE I immediately threw some cold water on it saying in effect that IAVA is a front organization created to provide cover for those who would advocate surrender, yet could say that they were still supporting the troops.

    I believe that to this day.

    Dan Maloney
    NY State Coordinator
    Gathering of Eagles

  7. bullnav says:

    Based on this Navy Times article, it looks like they bought the bullshit hook, line and sinker.

    Great work! One might think that someone getting paid to put things in print, such as a journalist, might come up with this expose (hint: Military Times). An expose, I might add, that does not seem like it took you all that long to dig up.

    Keep it up!

  8. ponsdorf says:

    Hey DanNY: Great to see you here.

    Jonn: I dunno about the DAV? I’m a life member myself. And the VFW.

    Sounds more like the AARP than the DAV. Citations please.

    Jonn wrote: It was in the Clinton years, and I can’t remember anything specific, but it seemed they were always talking down the Republicans in Congress. I haven’t checked on them in years. I was a life member, too, until I started getting their propaganda, then i told them to keep the money and stop bothering me. I’m also a life member of the VFW. Don’t get me started on AARP.

  9. If someone would get Mr Maze at Navy Time to read this and look it up, I would be VERY VERY VERY interested by his reaction.

    Navy Times Author: rmaze@atpco.com

  10. bullnav says:

    Just fired off a note. I will let you know if I get a response.

  11. CJ says:

    I’ve been following IAVA for a long time. I used to be adamantly against them and railed about their organization and Paul himself for years. Then, it seemed like IAVA had changed its tune and truly become more non-partisan. In the beginning, when they were called OpTruth, they were extremely liberal. There came a point where I decided I would support their organization and did so publicly on my blog, though paying close attention to everything they touched. They’ve truly done a lot of great work for veterans, but I can’t help but still be suspicious. This vote sort of pushed me away again as well. I found it odd that my Republican congressmen who are truly pro-troop (they’re from Texas and Alabama!!) got terrible scores while guys like John Kerry and Dennis Kucinich got A’s!! Insanity to be sure.

  12. PDizzle says:

    Long time lurker, first time commentor. I knew that IAVA was crap when I picked up Rieckhoff’s book and read a favorable review from one of the guy’s from System of a Down. If a member of an anti-military, anti-war band likes Rieckhoff’s book, I pretty much know that I won’t like much about him. His interviews with Olbermann only strengthened my belief. He’s sort of like Jon Soltz, just less of an ass hole.

  13. LT Nixon says:

    I’m still trusting Paul R. though, but it’s good to be a little suspicious at times.

  14. streetsweeper says:

    the optruth.org website is still online. I came across these people while getting ready for Winter Soldier Part Deaux.
    There’s far, far more to them than meets the eye…

    Open Society Institute (Soros Networks) & the Sundra (Andrus spelled backwards)Foundation are major funders as well as TIDES Foundation & TIDES Center.

    These people are no joke in the funding department. I’d started researching them then stopped. I’ll see if I can locate the info I got on them & put it all up over at my blog.

  15. streetsweeper says:

    Just checked my database & nothing on the organizers. Yet…

  16. Raoul says:


    Those organizations don’t fund the Boy Scouts…

    If you’re taking their money, you must be dancing to the devil’s tune.

  17. K9gs says:

    Interesting read here being I am on their mailing list. I have to say when it comes to communication and having questions answered the IAVA beats Vets for Freedom any day of the week….they are far more respectful, polite, and are willing to help find answers.

    TSO: If you have questions or a statement you want from VFF, just throw it up here, I will make sure they get it. VFF works with comparably fewer employees (by far) so sometimes they are just incredibly busy. Which isn’t a true defense mind you, since one should always be treated respectfully and politely, but does provide some context.

  18. Raoul Deming says:

    [Interesting read here being I am on their mailing list. I have to say when it comes to communication and having questions answered the IAVA beats Vets for Freedom any day of the week….they are far more respectful, polite, and are willing to help find answers.]

    We have been so pussified in this country that who cares if you’re a traitor as long as you’re “nice” about it.

    That’s the arguement that’s being pushed above.

    If we can ban soccer where everyone gets a trophy, it be the first step on the road back to the real America.

  19. was a dem not now says:

    now the tools at military.com are passing this off as a story… http://tinyurl.com/5yp42w

    and then the a$$hats let Reikoff write the damn OpEd!! on his own study!! there’s an unbiased view…

    Jonn wrote: Thanks, was a dem…I’ve been playing over there all afternoon and shut down one of the phoney soldiers on the thread. I miss that. But they deleted my comment. I don’t miss that.

  20. Raoul Deming says:

    Military.com is owned by USAToday.

    Explains a lot.

  21. ent says:

    Most organizations that have “Democracy” in their name are actually leftist, if not outright communist. This is post-1984, after all.

    I’d like to see some journalist delve into the backgrounds of the members of IVAW and IAVA to find out how many of them are actually vets. I’d bet that a very significant proportion of them are imposters and leftist agitators.

  22. LoveMyMarine says:

    Well, all you have to do is google “IAVA” and see who else pops up linking their site to their blogs. Firedoglake, etc.
    Far-left, “progressive” blogs that have never been friends of the military, let alone respect their service.

    And the congressional scorecard set off alarm bells for me too.

    The “membership” numbers of IAVA are being used to push the position that there is this overwhelming support from Veteran’s for Obama, in the finest Axelrod grassroots tradition.

    First they co-opted Blue Star Families and now OIF veterans.

    They have NO SHAME.

  23. LoveMyMarine says:

    sorry, meant, Axelrod Astro-turf tradition.


  24. Toni says:

    John – I haven’t read your next parts to this story but thank you for looking deeper. There was a member of OpTruth a few years back who was a troll at many milblogs. Wish I could remember his name…..his claims were positively outrageous.

  25. Dadmanly says:

    It’s easier to understand the basis for the Astroturf when you learn a bit about how all of these bills get used as “Vote Opportunities.” Oftenttimes, procedural votes are scheduled, or bills are in and out of consideration, so that Senators and Reps can get a “Aye” or a “Nay” for public relations purposes.

    Months and years later, it’s impossible to place the vote in context and realize if a Congress-Rat is playing one side or the other on any given vote.

    Occasionally, the charade is exposed, like when Kerry was “for the bill before he was against it” to authorize the President to go to war in Iraq.

    IAVA is joined at the hip with political operatives that are seeking to build Dem cred on Veteran’s issues and National Security. Plenty of Vets who aren’t overly partisan are getting fooled.

    Like Hezbollah, IAVA can hide behind all the good social work it does, masking their true purpose. Soros and TIDES funding? Far left agenda, that’s why crapdoodles like Kerry get an A.

    I respect Rieckhoffand his service, but he’s a dishonest a$$ to be a part of this crap.

  26. So, Jonn gets credit from LGF, and Hot Air messes up my name.

    All is right with the world.

  27. Ray says:

    …………. Oh!, I’m sorry TSO, did you say something? LOL

    On a more serious note, Bravo Zulu to you guys for outing these asshats. I have to admit I was split between being outraged and getting a kick out of reading Jonn’s post today. Even if I didn’t know Jonn’s history, I’d have pegged him for an NCO just by his last paragraph in today’s post. HooAhh

  28. IAVA’s Todd Bowers will be my guest on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com at 5 PM New York time Thursday November 13 to discuss what the Obama administration must do to improve the plight of returning veterans.

    To talk to him please go to http://www.garybaumgarten.com and click on the Join The Show link. There is no charge.


  29. Of all the IAVA peeps I have met, I like Todd the most. A bit more reserved and Infantrylike.

  30. Max Friedman says:

    Rieckoff is a leftist hack, nothing less, nothing more. His statements against the US actions in Iraq show this. He reminds me of the “front men” for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), who often turned out to be frauds, pyschos and liars (Hubbard, Camille, Kerry) – I worked on the book “Unfit for Command”.

    Also, I testified against groups with innocuous names during the Vietnam war, groups that were fronts for the Communist Party USA and other elements of the Hanoi Lobby. This after spending time in Nam and Cambodia as a pro-American journalist.

    I’m hearing the same old BS, coated with chocolate.

    My investment in Iraq? My son was one of the first soldiers to cross into Iraq on 3/20/03 (299th Army Reserve, MRB, Engineers, Ft. Belvoir, Va., attached to the 3rd ID). They set out the glow sticks and flares for the armor that crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq.

    Thanks for the heads-up on this leftist group.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Veterans Issues. The greatest and oldest American Political Football! Dates back to the Revolutionary War. This does not surprise me one bit. I’ve been pissed off since the 60’s and doubt any change. New generation on the field that has been occupied since our founding. Beyond voting and political activision the best thing to do is talk to five people and request they talk to five. And so on.

  32. navyvet48 says:

    I was always suspicious of this group. I tried in vain to locate there funding….The Soros’ go figure. By the way I am a life member of the DAV but I let them know they were cowards when Obozo came for disabled veterans first….The American Legion was loud and obnoxious until Obozo and Shinseki caved!

    I informed on the DAV office in Wichita KS got the Iwill pull your C file crap and never heard back from the supervisor….so he is going to get slapped again.

    The IAVA can go kiss my butt…I have done more on a grassroots level with no money than they have ….jerks and apologists for Obozo

  33. Ron Leonard says:

    To me Nobama is a joke, although he is breaking us, and is anti-military I don’t care what he says.

    On Kerry, what a puke. I mad it part of my mission last election to get him beat and sent along some timely info to Unfit to command. I still keep my research on Kerry on line in case I ever need it again and don’t have to redo all of it.


    Myself. I am a freelancer and work with my base old Vietnam unit to make things better for them and anyone else who needs a little help. So far I have succeeded in getting Benefits for 150- and lost zero cases.

    I keep a complete set of records for the 25th ID and just about every unit in it for the entire war.

    This IAVA reminds me way to much of VVAW. When Kerry got an A, my bullshit meter was running backwards 100 miles per hour.

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