Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), visited the Big Think offices today to talk about veterans issues and the announced drawback from Iraq. Rieckhoff stressed that as combat operations come to a close in Iraq, the focus on the veterans of this war and the continuing war in Afghanistan should only be intensifying. The American people have a moral obligation to care for those who fight overseas, but because less than 1% of the population has served in the armed forces, he said it is easy for the public to overlook its commitment to its servicemen and women.
Rieckhoff also told us that the public doesn’t give the armed forces enough credit in considering the impending repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The military is a highly professional group of men and women who will follow the orders they are given. Women and African-Americans were integrated in the past with little resistance; the same will be true for gay people, he said.