Donate

Veterans to Gingrich: Questioning Our Integrity is Out of Line

NEW YORK, NY (December 22, 2016)In an interview last Friday, former Speaker of the House and Vice Chairman of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition, Newt Gingrich shockingly attacked the integrity of the nation’s leading Veteran Service Organizations (VSO). In response, leading veterans service organizations are calling on Gingrich to change his tone at this critical time for our country and veterans’ care and to have a dialogue directly with the top VSOs. They are also calling on President-elect Trump to condemn the outrageous remarks.

“We write to you concerned by comments Newt Gingrich, the Vice-Chairman of your Presidential Transition Team, made in an interview with the Washington Post this past Friday,” the VSO leaders state in their letter. “Our disagreements on veterans policy aside, it’s simply offensive that Mr. Gingrich would slight our integrity by suggesting that our actions would do anything other than put the care of veterans first. We urge you to address Mr. Gingrich’s careless comments with him personally and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you both to help you better understand what our members are experiencing.”

In a Washington Post Live interview December 16th with The Post’s James Hohmann, Gingrich called on President-elect Donald Trump to wage “straight-out war” on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Newt Gingrich, who has never himself served in the military or sought care at the VA, then criticized veterans’ organizations that recently backed continuity of leadership at the agency and questioned the integrity of their recommendations. Though all of the signers of this letter do not agree with this position, we believe that an attack on any veteran service organization is an attack on all of us and cannot go unnoticed. The three leaders signing the letter are also, notably, Post-9/11 veterans.

Full text of the letter appears below and a signed copy can be seen here.

To President-elect Trump:

We write to you concerned by comments Newt Gingrich, the Vice-Chairman of your Presidential Transition Team, made in an interview with the Washington Post this past Friday. Our disagreements on veterans policy aside, it’s simply offensive that Mr. Gingrich would slight our integrity by suggesting that our actions would do anything other than put the care of veterans first.

We have all dedicated our lives to serving our brothers and sisters in the veterans community and work tirelessly every day. Our non-partisan organizations represent and serve millions of members and their families nationwide. We do not come to our positions recklessly and we are united in our view that the needs of our veterans should always transcend partisanship and political gamesmanship.

We urge you to address Mr. Gingrich’s careless comments with him personally and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you both to help you better understand what our members are experiencing. Until then, its is our hope that such a serious topic can be addressed in a more respectful tone.

Paul Rieckhoff
CEO & Founder
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Sherman Gillums Jr.
Executive Director
Paralyzed Veterans of America

Joe Chenelly
National Executive Director
AMVETS

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.