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A Veteran’s Perspective on the State of the Union

During his State of the Union address to Congress, President Barack Obama lauded America's Veterans. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

When President Barack Obama took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night to deliver his annual State of the Union address, Paul Rieckhoff saw the moment as a unique opportunity for the Commander in Chief to set a new course for Veterans’ issues.

Rieckhoff, who served in Iraq and is the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was seated in the House gallery that night and recently offered his analysis of President Obama’s remarks to Time magazine.

In Rieckhoff’s opinion, the President earned high marks for his address, which marks the first State of the Union in eight years where there were no American boots on the ground inIraq.

“Last night,” he said, President Obama “really held us up as a model for our country. That’s very powerful.”

But, Rieckhoff maintained, there remain several key issues unaddressed by the speech, most notably the new GI Bill, unemployment, women’s issues and the ongoing crisis of Veteran suicides.  What is more, “We’re looking for private partnerships, non-profit partnerships, that can complement or augment what’s happening in Washington. The VA is not the only solution to these problems, and we have to get people thinking outside the box a little bit more.”

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