Veterans group wants more than White House dinner for Iraq vets

“It’s a wonderful gesture from the First Family and an incredible honor for the few invited to attend,” Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA founder, wrote of the White House dinner. “But unfortunately, one million vets of Iraq can’t pack into the East Room on February 29th. So the question we have to ask is: what about the rest of them?”

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Rieckhoff said his group is asking President Obama to hold a meeting of mayors to organize one day across the country for “parades, memorials and service fairs in cities and towns large and small.”

Rieckhoff had also called for a ticker-tape parade in New York earlier this month, as the New York Giants were given a parade after the team won the Super Bowl. He touted the success of a January parade in St. Louis for Iraq veterans that drew tens of thousands.

Pentagon officials have said they don’t want a “national-level parade” to be held while troops are still fighting in Afghanistan. They’ve said they have no problems with parades like the one held in St. Louis.

The White House dinner, which will be held Feb. 29, will host about 200 people and veterans from every rank, service and state, according to administration officials.