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Big Personnel Change Coming To IAVA, The Controversy-Courting Veterans Group
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the grenade-lobbing, upstart among nationally influential veterans advocacy groups, is getting a new executive director, representatives of the nonprofit told Task & Purpose late Monday.
But Paul Rieckhoff — IAVA’s founder, CEO, and longtime public face — insists that the change is all about “the evolution of the organization” to win greater influence with policymakers and vets, not any reflection on the group’s controversial past. “I’m not going anywhere,” he told T&P.;
Allison Jaslow will be IAVA’s new executive director, the group confirmed yesterday in a press release Monday evening. Jaslow, a former Army captain and Iraq vet who has served a variety of Democratic causes — including a stint as former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s press secretary — joined IAVA in early 2016, quickly rising to be the group’s chief of staff and a familiar face among veterans advocates on Capitol Hill.
“Allison is one of the most important veteran leaders in America,” Rieckhoff said in the statement. “Over the last few years, she has quickly established herself as an unparallelled force for our movement.”
Task & Purpose approached IAVA to ask about a potential change in personnel Monday afternoon, when Rieckhoff’s profile disappeared from the group’s online listing of staffers. His profile was restored on that page sometime Tuesday morning.
Claire Owens, IAVA's press secretary, attributed the website shuffles to "an error that published Paul's bio" on the board of directors page, but not the staff listings. "We fixed the glitch," she said, "but you'll notice his title is consistent."
Founded by Rieckhoff in 2004, IAVA has grown into a considerable fundraising and campaigning resource for post-9/11, web-connected vets. But it has also courted criticism for its left-leaning political advocacy, aggressive media promotion, and Rieckhoff’s fiery leadership, which has sometimes put the group at loggerheads with more established veterans service organizations and their quiet consensus-building style.
Sources in those VSOs tell Task & Purpose they were especially rankled by Rieckhoff and IAVA’s successful campaign to kill GI Bill reform in Congress last year; those critics have expressed similar concerns about IAVA’s attacks on the proposed “GI Bill 3.0,” a compromise bill whose progress slowed after IAVA and others accused lawmakers of trying to ram through a $2,400 “tax” on service members to secure their educational benefits.
A more concerning issue for the organization was a cloud of suspicion gathering around Rieckhoff after the Daily Caller reported in February that IAVA had resorted to creative bookkeeping to keep grant funders happy. “This is not something that the staff is okay with and not something the staff would do on their own,” one former IAVA staffer told the Caller. “This is about a fundamental culture at IAVA that Paul has created.”
Rieckhoff has denied those claims in no uncertain terms. "It's unfortunate that these nameless sources have gone to such lengths to attempt to discredit me and undermine IAVA's critical mission,” he said in a February response to the Caller’s story.
Rieckhoff told T&P; that Jaslow’s elevation to executive director of the group was not about him taking a step back, but about leveraging her experience to take IAVA to the next level. “We’ve got a really great bench now” of talented public facing officers, particularly women, he said in a phone interview.
“I’m excited for her!” Rieckhoff added, noting that when it came to many of the group’s current campaigns — including #shewhobornethebattle, a campaign “to Fully Recognize and Improve Services for Women Veterans” — "she's a more talented spokesman than me.”
A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has left four people dead, including the gunman, law enforcement officials said at a Friday news conference.
The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.
For some brave U-2 pilots, life on the ground just can't compare to flying a 64-year-old spy plane to the edge of space, but some airmen need that extra rush.
For Capt. Joshua Bird of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, he seemed to have found that rush in cocaine — at least, that's what an official legal notice from Beale Air Force Base said he did.
(Reuters) - The suspected shooter involved in a deadly incident on Friday at a major U.S. Navy base in Florida was believed to be a Saudi national in the United States for training, two U.S. defense officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Four people including the shooter were killed in the episode at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Navy and local sheriff's office said, the second deadly shooting at a U.S. military installation this week.
The troubled 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor identified as shooting three shipyard workers Wednesday and then killing himself may have come from a troubled ship.
Gabriel Romero, a sailor on the submarine USS Columbia, fatally shot two civilian workers and wounded a third while the Los Angeles-class vessel is in Dry Dock 2 for a two-year overhaul, according to The Associated Press and other sources.
Romero "opened fire on shipyard personnel with his M-4 service rifle and then turned his M9 service pistol on himself," Fox News Pentagon reporter Lucas Tomlinson reported, citing a preliminary incident report.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was not able to provide information Thursday on a report that multiple suicides have occurred on the Columbia.
Hawaii News Now said Romero was undergoing disciplinary review and was enrolled in anger management classes.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.