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The Quiet Ones: 12 Leaders Who Get Things Done

While right-wing Republicans gridlock Washington, a dozen leaders are demonstrating just how effective government can be
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paul rieckhoff
Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

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Paul Rieckhoff
Executive Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

What He's Done A former first lieutenant who served a tour of duty in Iraq, Rieckhoff launched the nation's largest advocacy group for veterans of Bush's two wars. This fall, he used his lobbying clout to spearhead the near-unanimous passage of the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act. The new law addresses the staggeringly high unemployment rate for returning veterans by providing businesses with a tax credit of up to $9,600 for each vet hired. The law also expands funding for education and vocational training for all veterans, including those from past wars. Rieckhoff's advocacy was also essential in securing passage of the New GI Bill under Bush in 2008, and its expansion under Obama in 2010. "As Congress stalls on so many other issues," Rieckhoff says, "it's good to see them come together in realizing that one of the smartest investments they can make is supporting the New Greatest Generation."

Admirers Say "He's relentless," says Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "When he brings a new issue to me, I know that's what I should be fighting for."

Enemies Say Jim DeMint, the only senator to vote against the VOW Act, blasted veterans advocates like Rieckhoff for seeking to "privilege one American over another."

Gives Us Pause Began his career on Wall Street working at JP Morgan.

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