Veterans Week 2009: We've Got Your Back
Posted by Paul Rieckhoff on November 11
Somewhere, high atop the mountains of Afghanistan, Marine Staff Sergeant Todd Bowers is smiling. He's not thinking about Cameron Diaz or all the Jack Daniels he'll consume when he comes home. Or at least not this minute. He's reflecting on a handshake, one that launched a historic campaign to welcome new veterans home.
A year ago today, in partnership with the Ad Council, IAVA launched a nationwide Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign to let new veterans know they aren't alone. At the campaign's core is the first and only social network exclusively for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, IAVA's Community of Veterans. On this site, new vets can find mental health, educational, and family resources, but more importantly, peer support from their fellow veterans. Last year, Todd co-starred in the now iconic commercial featuring two veterans shaking hands on an empty New York street corner.
Today, he's in Afghanistan. On his fourth overseas tour since 9/11.
This is the reality for many who serve today, and for their families. That's why, today, IAVA and the Ad Council launched a new round of groundbreaking PSAs. We want vets like Todd to know that on Veterans Day, and every other day, "We've got your back."
Check out the powerful new television PSA "Camo" right now featuring Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Ronaldo Zueleta:
Thanks to tons of donated media, you will soon be viewing this ad and others like it, on television and radio channels, websites, bus stations, and airport terminals near you. And it will make a huge impact. In just a year, the campaign and IAVA's community of veterans has already changed the lives of countless veterans.
But don't take my word for it.
According to Afghanistan veteran and IAVA community member Laurie Emmer, "For the longest [time] I felt like I was the only one going through things, but through this community I found otherwise. No matter what our deployment jobs, service or experiences were, we still share the places we went. Whether I am having a good day or a bad day I know this is the place I can come to for encouragement and support."
Whether it's amputees, folks struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Outdoor Enthusiasts, or just those looking to swap war stories, every vet can find a home in this virtual veterans' hall, and meet a group of folks that "has their back." With events like last week's unthinkable tragedy at Fort Hood, this dynamic community offers a safe place where veterans can go to find support, healing and conversations with other vets.
Please help us spread the word about this historic campaign and show new vets, like Todd Bowers, that America "has their back." On Veterans Day, sharing the ad with your friends, family members, and coworkers is an easy way for every American to do something to support our newest generation of veterans. With your help, we can make every day Veterans Day.
Paul Rieckhoff is the Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the author of Chasing Ghosts.
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