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Paul Rieckhoff on V.A. Crisis

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This week Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director of IAVA, whose group represents tens of thousands of veterans, sheds light on the military's "personality disorder" diagnosis, which keeps injured soldiers from collecting benefits. Rieckhoff also weighs in on what he calls unacceptable, dangerous behavior on the part of the V.A. Also, Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa speaks with Jon Town, a soldier who was wounded in Ramadi, Iraq in a rocket attack and received a purple heart from the military, only to find out that he lost all his benefits and actually owes the Army money.

Interview Excerpts:

"The Veterans Affairs Department, which is chronically under- funded and under-resourced, and is already crying out for help in the country."

"Jon Town is a war hero. And he has to beg, plead, scrap and claw to get results. And ultimately the only way he's going to get results is because he's gone to the press and he's shamed the people in power into some sort of action."

"The demand for our troops continues to go up and the supply does not. So over time everybody across the board is under pressure ... and we're compromising the overall integrity of our military and we're driving some of the individuals in to the ground."

"The military is being diminished at such a great rate that we are compromising our ability to respond to domestic threats. That makes every American less safe."

"Let's get adequate screening in place, let's get enough mental health counselors in place, let's beef up the V.A. program and take care of them when they first come home so we don't end up paying for them for decades and impacting their lives and their children for decades to come."

About Paul Rieckhoff

Paul Rieckhoff Paul Rieckhoff is the Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), a non-partisan non-profit founded in 2004 with tens of thousands of members.

Rieckhoff was a First Lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in the Iraq war from 2003-2004. He now serves as an infantry officer in the New York Army National Guard.

His first book "Chasing Ghosts" is an account of his experiences in Iraq and activism afterwards. A graduate of Amherst College, Rieckhoff lives in New York City.

More from NOW:

» Read an interview with journalist Joshua Kors, who first reported on army benefits and "personality disorder" in The Nation

Related Links:

» NOW: Waiting Game

» NOW: The Battle at Home & Purple Hearts

» Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

» Iraq War Veterans Organization

» The Nation: "How specialist town lost his benefits"

» "Army deployed seriously injured troops"

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