NEW YORK, NY (December 2, 2016) – Last night, at a rally in Ohio, President-elect Trump announced retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his choice for Secretary of Defense. Following is a statement from IAVA Founder and CEO, Paul Rieckhoff:
“Retired Marine General James Mattis is revered by many in our generation and as we continue to face threats like ISIS, IAVA looks forward to having a leader at the Pentagon who served alongside us in our most recent wars. We expect him to always put troops, their families and transitioning veterans first.
“We hope a former military leader like General Mattis will be a strong voice in defending the New GI Bill as a critical recruiting tool. It is also imperative to our community that General Mattis, or any Secretary of Defense, work closely with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The current Administration has struggled to solve issues that plague transitioning servicemembers, exemplified by its failure to implement a sound electronic records system. We hope that General Mattis will be in a unique position to prioritize and finally fix these issues.
“IAVA was proud to play a role in major advances in defense personnel policy that now reflect the modern era we’re fighting in. We hope General Mattis will strongly support mandatory mental health screening, the continued transition of women into combat roles and will embrace the value of inclusiveness and reject any suggestion that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell be reinstituted. We also expect him to be an advocate alongside us for adequate funding from Congress for the training and tools that today’s battlefield demands we equip our warfighters with.
“We understand the importance of civilian leadership at the Pentagon and support the constitutional requirement of a waiver of General Mattis’ recent service. However, once he is appropriately vetted, we urge Congress to quickly confirm General Mattis’ nomination as we need his leadership during this critical time. It is our hope that he will remind our nation that how we care for our veterans returning home is a critical component of our national defense and look forward to Mattis’ trademark passion to drive his engagement with veterans as a part of the larger military community.”
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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 8,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.