Paul Rieckhoff

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Political & National Security Analyst; America’s Foremost Veterans Advocate

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Paul Rieckhoff: Biography at a Glance

  • Paul Rieckhoff, a respected media and political fixture for over 20 years, is America’s leading veterans advocate.
  • Rieckhoff is best known as the Founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the groundbreaking first and largest organization of Post-9/11 veterans in America that transformed the national landscape for veterans.
  • IAVA led the historic passage of The New GI Bill, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, and held decades of Presidents and members of Congress accountable.
  • Rieckhoff is the author of the celebrated Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier’s Perspective and a former Political Science professor, where he created and taught a seminar titled “Understanding 9/11.” 
  • Rieckhoff is also the Founder and President of Righteous Media–a disruptive and independent new media company where he serves as host of their flagship show, Independent Americans with Paul Rieckhoff.
  • Rieckhoff is a sought-after public speaker on topics centered around leadership, team-building, social entrepreneurship, war, the modern military, politics, new media, pop culture, and veteran mental health and affairs.

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Biography

Paul Rieckhoff is one of the most dynamic media and political leaders and social entrepreneurs in America. A national thought leader and recognized and respected media and political fixture for over 20 years, Rieckhoff is most well known as the Founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)–the groundbreaking first and largest organization of Post-9/11 veterans in America (where he continues serve as Vice Chairman of the Board) that transformed the national landscape for veterans, led the historic passage of The New GI Bill, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, and held decades of Presidents and members of Congress accountable.  After 15 impactful years of leading IAVA, in 2019, Rieckhoff shifted fully into media and launched his newest big idea and became Founder and President of Righteous Media–a disruptive and independent new media company. He is the host of the Righteous Media’s flagship show, Independent Americans with Paul Rieckhoff–which now has over 250 episodes, 2M downloads and featured diverse guests ranging from Stephen Colbert to Admiral Mike Mullen to Pete Buttigeig to Sarah Jessica Parker to Susan Rice to Meghan McCain. Rieckhoff is Producer for all Righteous shows, content and campaigns, has produced 6 films and served as Creative Consultant and contributor for Vice TV’s While the Rest of Us Die.

A sought-after National Security and Politics Analyst and expert on American culture, Rieckhoff has weekly television segments on both NewsNation and MSNBC’s Deadline White House with Nicolle Wallace. He is a former professor of Political Science at Amherst College where he created and taught a seminar titled “Understanding 9/11: And on the 20th anniversary, preparing for the next 9/11, the Author of Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier’s Perspective, a regular writer for CNN.com, MSNBC and others, a frequent public speaker, and a nationally-recognized authority on leadership, team-building, social entrepreneurship, war, the modern military, politics, new media, pop culture, and veterans affairs.

A gritty, funny, and engaging former high school football coach, Army Infantry Officer and 9/11 First Responder, Rieckhoff brings inspiration, hope, humor, and practical life-lessons from the battlefields of Iraq, the halls of Congress, the skirmishes of Twitter, and the airwaves of cable TV.

Always at the forefront of innovation and engagement, Rieckhoff has shared harrowing stories from Ground Zero on 9/11, to the battlefields of Baghdad during the Iraq War, to fierce meetings inside the Roosevelt Room of the White House battling with three Presidents. He’s been fearlessly leading America during some of our most important times and created multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns and impactful cause-marketing partnerships with companies ranging from HBO to Victory Motorcycles to Google to Southwest Airlines to Uber to PAX Labs.

Prolific on social and traditional media, Rieckhoff is a sought-after public speaker and moderator who’s drawn audiences in communities including The Pentagon, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, SouthBySouthwest, and The Riverside Church.

He often testifies before Congress, is a regular on CNN, MSNBC, and NewsNation, and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows including Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, Meet The Press, PBS Newshour, and Fox’s The Kelly File.

He’s led IAVA’s groundbreaking bi-partisan efforts in Washington, while forging creative partnerships with O.A.R., Lady Gaga, Linkin Park, Drowning Pool, NASCAR and Netflix.

Rieckhoff has also produced four films (Warrior Champions, Reserved to Fight, Jerebek, and When I Came Home) and acted in Green Zone starring Matt Damon. Rieckhoff has personally trained thousands of veteran leaders to be “changemakers” in their communities and inspired millions worldwide to get involved, take action and make positive change. Rieckhoff’s mantra is “adapt, improvise and overcome” and he and his work are showing the world what American ingenuity, leadership and innovation are all about.

In 2011, Rieckhoff appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine for a feature titled “The New Greatest Generation.” He is an Ashoka Fellow and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His honors include: GQ’s “50 Most Powerful People in D.C.”, Esquire’s “America’s Best and Brightest,” Rolling Stone’s “The Quiet Ones: 12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”, Penthouse’s Annual “Badass List”, The Hill’s “Top Lobbyists: Grassroots” for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

The Hill wrote, “Rieckhoff champions legislation to help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars deal with brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.” In 2014, Rieckhoff was selected for a “Teddy Award” by TIME Magazine for his political courage in demanding VA reform throughout years of scandal. Political guru Joe Klein wrote, “Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has been an edgy, controversial figure in recent years, a creative critic of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The revelation of widespread corruption and incompetence in the VA, and the dismissal of Secretary Eric Shinseki, proved the value of Rieckhoff’s persistence. His willingness to take flak for his brothers and sisters in arms merits a Teddy.”

Rieckhoff gained invaluable finance and business experience working on Wall Street in the white-hot late-90s/early 2000s. He joined the Equity Capital Markets Investment Banking group at JPMorgan and focused on a range of biotech, consumer retail, and tech deals including the IPOs of Krispy Kreme, Genentech, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals and others.

In 2014, Task and Purpose named Rieckhoff to its “Mighty 25 Veterans Poised to Make a Difference” writing, “Under the leadership of the well-networked and media-savvy founder Paul Rieckhoff…Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America marked a decade of existence in 2014, and the organization is showing no signs of slowing down going into next year.”

In 2016, Rieckhoff was elected to the New York State Senate Veteran’s Hall of Fame for distinguishing himself both in military and civilian life.

He has also served as the Karl Lowenstein Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in the Political Science Department at Amherst College, where he designed and taught a class on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, titled Understanding 9/11.

Rieckhoff lives in New York City with his awesome wife, Lauren and hilarious and exhausting sons, Ryder, and River.

Topics

The Five I’s of Leadership: Independence, Integrity, Information, Inspiration, and Impact
How To Build Community Through New Media
Social Impact: How the Right Partnership Deepens Audience/Consumer Brand Loyalty

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