Defense Secretary Hagel Confirmation Comes at an Important Time for New Veterans

Defense Secretary Hagel Confirmation Comes at an Important Time for New Veterans

CONTACT: Zack Baddorf (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org


Defense Secretary Hagel Confirmation Comes at an Important Time for New Veterans

Secretary Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran, needs to address critical veterans’ issues immediately

WASHINGTON (Feb. 26, 2013) — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released the following statement in response to today’s historic confirmation of Secretary Hagel. IAVA looks forward to working with Secretary Hagel to address some of the most serious challenges faced by service members and military families during his tenure at the Department of Defense.

“As the first Vietnam veteran and former enlisted soldier to lead the Department of Defense, Secretary Hagel is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges veterans face as they transition home,” IAVA founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff said. “The men and women of the New Greatest Generation are facing a staggering disability claims backlog, record suicide rates and consistently high unemployment. As we continue to drawdown from Afghanistan, Secretary Hagel must spearhead leadership and collaboration between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. A joint effort to stem the tide of suicides and integrate VA and DoD health records to reduce the claims backlog would transform the landscape for our generation of veterans.

“While a US Senator in 2008, Hagel stepped up to help IAVA pass the New GI Bill. As the Secretary of Defense, he must rise to the occasion once again. In partnership with the VA and the ‘sea of goodwill’ from coast to coast, Secretary Hagel could leave a great legacy by confronting some of the most intractable problems with the current DoD and VA support systems. We look forward to working with the Secretary of Defense and the rest of the President’s Cabinet to address these critical issues,” Rieckhoff said.

With this confirmation, Secretary Hagel joins Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki as one of the three Vietnam veterans in the current Cabinet.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. IAVA recently received the highest rating – four-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.

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