Our Mission: IAVA’s mission is to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. The Need: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are in their eighth and ninth years respectively. Over two million American troops have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and thousands have been deployed multiple times. IAVA addresses critical issues facing new veterans and their families, including mental health injuries, a stretched VA system, inadequate health care for female veterans, and GI Bill educational benefits. IAVA also provides valuable resources and empowers veterans to connect with one another, fostering a strong and lasting community. History: IAVA was founded in 2004 by current Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff and his fellow Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. After returning home from their tours, these veterans came together after quickly becoming concerned with the way the war in Iraq was being portrayed in the media and the overall plight of newly returned veterans. There were many policy experts and talking heads on TV, but very few people who had actually served on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. There was no one talking about what our wounded friends needed and the issues they faced. The creation of IAVA allowed thousands of veterans to join the national dialogue, and to explain what was really happening on the ground overseas and back home in the US.