251,255 Pages

Paul Rieckhoff
Birth name Paul Rieckhoff
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1998 - 2007
Rank First Lieutenant

Paul Rieckhoff is a writer, social entrepreneur, advocate, activist and veteran of the United States Army and the Iraq War. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).[1] He served as an Army First Lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in Iraq from 2003 through 2004.[1] Rieckhoff was released from active duty in March 2004 and the National Guard in 2011.


Rieckhoff attended public High School in New York and graduated from Amherst College in 1998 with a BA in Political Science.[1]

Military serviceEdit

Rieckhoff enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves on September 15, 1998 and completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort McClellan, Alabama.[2] He then served in the U.S. Army Reserves, as a Specialist with the 812th Military Police Company. While working on Wall Street in 1999, Rieckhoff transferred to the New York Army National Guard. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in June 2001 and was named a Distinguished Military Graduate. Rieckhoff selected infantry as his branch and joined A Company, 1/105th INF (Light).

Rieckhoff left Wall Street on September 7, 2001 with plans to travel and complete additional military schooling. On the morning of September 11, Rieckhoff was at his apartment in Manhattan when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He participated in the rescue efforts at ground zero.[3] His unit was formally activated for rescue and security operations later that evening.

In 2002, Rieckhoff volunteered for the invasion of Iraq. In January of that year, he was on a plane to join the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Rieckhoff was then assigned as a Platoon Leader In the 3/124th INF (Air Assault) FLNG. The unit was attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and spent almost a year conducting combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. Third Platoon conducted over 1,000 dismounted and mounted combat patrols. All thirty-eight of the men in Rieckhoff's platoon returned home alive.

Rieckhoff was awarded a United States Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq.[4]

Bronze Star and Special Forces patch controversyEdit

On July 13, 2012, three days after Rieckhoff publicly advocated for a revised Stolen Valor Act,[5] the military blog This Ain't Hell uncovered a 2004 Amherst Magazine interview of Rieckhoff which included a photograph of him in uniform wearing a Bronze Star Medal and a United States Army Special Forces unit patch.[6]

According to Stars and Stripes, in response to the allegation that he wore a medal he had not been awarded, Rieckhoff "defended the medal as a paperwork mistake" and explained that he "bought his Bronze Star after being told he had earned the medal, but hasn't worn it since that interview."

An earlier article in the Army Times states that "In 2004, his command told him he would be awarded the medal for meritorious service. When he left the Army that year, the medal was clearly listed on his DD 214 discharge form." In the same article, Rieckhoff noted "that he no longer wears the award or claims publicly to have earned it."[7]

Concerning the allegation that Rieckhoff had worn a Special Forces unit patch without ever having served in a Special Forces unit, Stars and Stripes noted that Rieckhoff "blames the Special Forces patch on bad timing and enthusiasm."[6] The article states that "[h]e sewed on the patch days after receiving an assignment to the unit, but pulled it off a few weeks later when that assignment changed."

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of AmericaEdit

After returning home from Iraq in 2004, Rieckhoff founded Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), a nonpartisan organization for new veterans.

Public LifeEdit

Rieckhoff is a nationally-recognized and known authority on the new veteran community and policy. He regularly testifies before Congress on issues facing the veterans' community and writes regularly for national websites and publications. In August 2011, Rieckhoff and four other IAVA Member Veterans appeared on the cover of Time $2agazine for a feature about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans being leaders of the New Greatest Generation.[8]

Rieckhoff has appeared on many television and radio programs including “Meet the Press”, The Charlie Rose Show, NBC Nightly News, World News With Charles Gibson, The Early Show, Tavis Smiley, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Anderson Cooper 360°, The Rachel Maddow Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report and The Henry Rollins Show. He has also written articles and opinion columns for The New York Times, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and many more publications.


Rieckhoff wrote a book describing his experiences in Iraq and activism afterwards entitled Chasing Ghosts (2006).[1]

Awards and affiliationsEdit

Rieckhoff was inducted into the Global Ashoka Fellowship in 2010 as recognition of his innovation and entrepreneurship on behalf of new veterans.[9] Rieckhoff is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Named #37 of GQ’s "50 Most Powerful People in D.C.]" in 2009,[10] Rieckhoff has been honored with the Common Ground “Celebrating Home Award” and the Generation Engage “Lewis Cullman Civic Engagement Award” for his leadership in the service community.[11] In 2004, he was also honored by Esquire magazine as one of “America’s Best and Brightest.”


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Iava Staff & Board". Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  2. "Paul Rieckhoff". Amazon. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  3. "Paul Rieckhoff". Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  4. "Army Commendation Medal, Paul Rieckhoff". January 28, 2004. Retrieved July 29, 2012. 
  5. Tarantino, Tom (July 13, 2012). "Alert: Congress introduces Stolen Valor Act 2.0". Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Shane, Leo (September 5, 2012). "Stars and Stripes: IAVA attracts the spotlight – and detractors". Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  7. Tilghman, Andrew (July 23, 2012). "Army Times: Bronze Star snafu reveals valor system flaw". Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  8. Klein, Joe (August 29, 2011). "The New Greatest Generation".,9171,2089337,00.html. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  9. "Ashoka Fellows - Paul Rieckhoff". 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  10. Robert Draper, Sarah Goldstein, Wil S. Hylton, Mark Kirby, Raha Naddaf, Tory Newmyer, and Greg Veis (November 2009). "The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C". Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  11. "Paul Rieckhoff". Retrieved 12 May 2011. 

Press & Published WorksEdit

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.