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Georgia Veterans Unite During Ongoing Scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs

Atlanta, GA (June 16, 2014) – Following last week’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) audit release, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff will be speaking at Points of Light’s 2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service on Tuesday, June 17 at 8:30 am at the Georgia World Congress Center. That afternoon at 12 pm, Rieckhoff will also meet with local post-9/11 veterans in Atlanta, Georgia at Park Bar Atlanta discussing their experiences with the VA and any wait times they have experienced. Rieckhoff will also be talking about IAVA’s eight-step plan for restoring confidence within the VA, and the Campaign to Combat Suicide.

Local vets can RSVP here to the luncheon. Press is invited to attend.

In early June Rieckhoff, joined by IAVA veterans from across the country, unveiled eight steps the Obama Administration and Congress can take now to restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. IAVA urges Congress and the President to enact all of the recommendations from the plan.

“As we continue to learn more about the scope of wrong-doing at the VA, it is imperative veterans know that they are not alone,” said Rieckhoff. “Atlanta, like so many cities across the country, is on the front lines of our fight to improve the lives of post-9/11 veterans and their families. We urge leadership in Atlanta to step up for vets and follow our eight-step plan to restore faith within the VA as well as encourage lawmakers to pass the SAV Act.”

There are more than 700,000 Georgia veterans, including more than 110,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Atlanta veterans face a number of critical challenges. In Georgia, as well as across the country, suicide is a top concern for new veterans: at least 22 veterans die by suicide every day.

More than 283,000 veterans are stuck in the VA backlog, including more than 14,000 in the Atlanta regional office, who are waiting more than 125 days for a claim. The average wait time here is 174.7 days.

As part of the “We’ve Got Your Back: IAVA’s Campaign to Combat Suicide” IAVA is calling on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation expanding mental health care for veterans and ensuring that they have extended access to that care. IAVA is pushing for bipartisan support for The Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act (SAV Act) – historic legislation introduced in March by U.S. Senator John Walsh of Montana, the first Iraq War combat vet to serve in the Senate.

No Senators from Georgia have signed onto the SAV Act.

IAVA is also demanding President Obama issue an Executive Order that addresses the problem that often plagues coordination of records and care between the Department of Defense and the VA and to appoint a National Director of Suicide Prevention.

Points of Light’s 2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service

WHAT: Paul Rieckhoff will deliver remarks at the annual Points of Light’s 2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service, where leaders from nonprofits, business and government come together to build and lead a more powerful, more vibrant volunteer sector. To learn more visit http://www.volunteeringandservice.org/.

WHO: Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder

WHEN: Tuesday, June 17 at 8:30 am EST

WHERE: Room A409, Georgia World Congress Center in Building A, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., NW, Atlanta, GA 30313

IAVA Membership Luncheon

WHAT: Paul Rieckhoff will attend a membership luncheon with post-9/11 Atlanta veterans

WHO: Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder

Atlanta Post-9/11 veterans

WHEN: Tuesday, June 17 at 12 pm EST

WHERE: Park Bar Atlanta 150 Walton St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

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 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.