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Veterans Issues AWOL in First Presidential Debate

NEW YORK, NY (September 27, 2016) – In tonight’s first 2016 presidential debate, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s leading voice for the Post 9/11 Generation of Veterans, criticized both candidates and moderator Lester Holt for failing to raise the most urgent issues impacting America’s veterans and their families in a segment focused on national security issues. IAVA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and does not endorse political candidates of any party. Mr Trump and Secretary Clinton recently participated in the first-ever Commander-in-Chief Forum hosted by IAVA on the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier in New York watched by over 15 million households. IAVA’s powerful advocacy program works to focus all candidates in support of nonpartisan veterans’ issues. In response to the lack of discussion tonight surrounding veteran issues, IAVA released the following statement:

“Veterans issues are national security issues. Both candidates missed an incredible opportunity tonight to devote at least some portion of their time to focus on our nation’s veterans. They also failed to address our troops serving right now in combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA. “Unfortunately for the 22 million veterans in America, there was not a single question asked by the moderator or any substantive comments from either Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump to address the urgent issues impacting our community. VA reform, defending the GI Bill, better care for women veterans, PTSD and an alarming veteran suicide rate–all were notably absent from a discussion segment focused on national security. As George Washington once said, ‘The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.’

The military and veterans’ community are traditionally an extremely powerful constituency at the polls. According to IAVA’s recent membership survey, 93 percent of IAVA members are planning to vote in this election.

A recent Military Times poll of active duty troops found that Trump leads with 37.6 percent. Gary Johnson was second at 36.5 percent. Hillary Clinton was third with 16.3 percent. Green Party candidate Jill Stein received 1.2 percent support while other third-party and write-in options received 3.2 percent.

For a full analysis of the candidates’ veterans policy positions, and to see IAVA’s comprehensive Policy Agenda recommendations, visit IAVA.org/IAVAvotes.

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.