IAVA Leaders Attend Historic White House Dinner for Iraq Veterans
Posted by Michelle McCarthy on February 29
Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is proud to announce that at least four IAVA Member Veterans and emerging leaders will be guests of honor at tonight’s historic White House Dinner, “A Nation’s Gratitude,” hosted by the President and First Lady to mark the end of the Iraq War. U.S. Army veteran Angela Peacock, a Missouri native who led IAVA in the nation’s first “Welcome Home our Heroes” parade for Iraq veterans in St. Louis, will attend the dinner as an official representative of IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff and IAVA’s 200,000 Members and Supporters nationwide. Corporal Aaron Mankin, Master Sergeant Shane Lacaillade and IAVA’s Membership Director Jason Hansman will join her in representing the more than one million veterans who have served under Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn since 2003.
“IAVA applauds the President and First Family for opening their home to host this historic White House Dinner. Tonight is a critical moment to capture the nation’s attention and to put the spotlight on real heroes. IAVA is immensely honored to participate and to give a voice and face to the more than one million Americans who have served our country in Iraq. As founder, I’m especially proud to give my seat to Iraq veteran Angela Peacock, a unique voice for our nation’s women warriors and a rising leader for our entire veterans community. Only a hundred Iraq veterans like Angela will actually dine in the East Room tonight, but all one million deserve our country’s gratitude for their individual service and sacrifice,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.
“After eight years of war, this dinner is a welcome step toward recognizing the true sacrifices made by this newest generation of veterans—but it’s only a start. One meal isn’t nearly enough to extend the entire nation’s gratitude. Across the country, millions of Americans want to join the President and First Lady in thanking Iraq veterans and their families. Ahead of the White House Dinner, IAVA issued an open letter calling on the President and Mayors nationwide to convene a National Day of Action, so the entire country can honor and support these brave men and women. We’re still waiting for a response—and after tonight, we hope the President moves quickly to channel the nation’s growing goodwill into concrete action. America has a critical window right now to deliver employment, education and transitional resources to new veterans, and to pave the way home for those still fighting in Afghanistan. Investing in this New Greatest Generation is the greatest signal of our nation’s gratitude. IAVA stands ready to work with the White House, Congress and community leaders nationwide to ensure our country’s Iraq veterans and their families continue to command our unwavering support tonight and in the years to come.”
IAVA Member Veterans and Staff invited to attend the White House Dinner represent diverse military experiences, backgrounds and States. These leaders include:
- Angela Peacock, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Army. Angela spent seven years Active-Duty in the U.S. Army and served in the first wave into Baghdad, Iraq in 2003 as a Sergeant with the 1st Armored Division. In 2004, she was medically discharged from the service, and suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder upon transitioning home. She has since overcome her invisible wounds with the help of her service dog GI Joe and today is pursuing her degree in psychology to help fellow veterans. A Missouri native, Angela is an active IAVA local leader and spokesperson about the challenges uniquely faced by women warriors and the impact of invisible wounds. In January 2012, she proudly led IAVA in the nation’s first “Welcome Home our Heroes” parade for Iraq veterans in St. Louis.
- Jason Hansman, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Army. Prior to joining IAVA, Jason served in the Army Reserves as a Civil Affairs Sergeant. From 2004 to 2005, he deployed to Mosul, Iraq where he managed hundreds of reconstruction projects as the Operations NCO of a Civil Affairs company. Jason has been a steadfast proponent of veterans’ issues as IAVA’s Membership Director and the moderator of Community of Veterans, the first and largest online support network launched by IAVA exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. He graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Political Science. He is a native of Lacey, Washington.
- Master Sergeant Shane Lacaillade, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Air Force. Master Sergeant Shane Lacaillade is a veteran of Iraq with eighteen years in the service. A native of Maine, MSgt Lacaillade enlisted in the Air Force in 1994. He served three tours in Iraq--once in 2007, again in 2009 and a final tour in 2010. MSgt Lacaillade received a Bronze Star for his dedicated service as a medical technician, and he is the proud parent of three children. His family plans on continuing the tradition of military service--his daughter has signed on with the U.S. Army and his son has accepted a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship with Norwich military academy. MSgt Lacaillade will attend the White House Dinner with his wife, on the same day of their twentieth wedding anniversary.
- Corporal Aaron Mankin, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Marine Corps. Corporal Aaron Mankin is one of the veteran community’s single most powerful advocates as a spokesperson for UCLA’s Operation Mend, a groundbreaking reconstruction program that helps treat military personnel severely wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May 2005, Cpl. Mankin was severely wounded in Iraq when his vehicle rolled over an IED. He suffered intense burns over 25 percent of his body, losing his ears, nose and mouth. Facing impossible odds of recovery, Cpl. Mankin became Operation Mend’s first patient in August 2007 and since then has undergone nearly 60 surgeries. He is a leading voice for over 40,000 veterans who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a constant reminder of the sacrifices our service members have made in nearly a decade of war. IAVA honored Cpl. Mankin with the 2011 IAVA Veterans Leadership Award at the Fifth Annual Heroes Gala in November 2011. He lives in Arkansas.
Americans can read IAVA’s open letter to the President and U.S. Mayors calling for a National Day of Action to honor and support Iraq veterans at: www.iava.org/welcomehome.
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