New York, NY (July 28, 2014) – As a deal is expected today in Congress on the VA Bill, and with Bob McDonald expected to be confirmed later this week, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today formally launched the “Convoy to Combat Suicide” which will run through the summer and into fall of 2014. IAVA’s top 2014 priority is to lower the unacceptably high veterans suicide rate, and this national tour will help take IAVA’s message across the country.
The Convoy to Combat Suicide is a national tour of the We’ve Got Your Back: IAVA’s Campaign to Combat Suicide, a historic, yearlong effort IAVA launched in March to address veteran suicide and improve access to quality mental health care. It will bring together artists from a wide variety of musical audiences to stand with our nation’s veterans.
IAVA is also partnering with Linkin Park, Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Miller High Life, Cale Conley, MLB teams, local political, business and social leaders, and most importantly, with IAVA Leadership Fellows and local members and supporters nationwide. IAVA will be urging veterans and civilians to get involved in reversing the suicide trend in the veterans community and support IAVA’s three goals of 1) passing the Clay Hunt SAV Act, 2) getting President Obama to take Executive Action and 3) connecting one-million post-9/11 veterans with transitional resources.
IAVA members and supporters will lead and attend events in cities ranging from Scranton to Dallas to Phoenix, all focused on supporting our veterans at this critical time. The Convoy will roll through some of the cities with the highest concentrations of veterans in America, and many places profoundly impacted by the ongoing VA scandal.
In IAVA’s 2014 Membership Survey 40% of respondents said they know at least one Iraq or Afghanistan veteran that has died by suicide and 47% know one that has attempted suicide.
“Twenty-two veterans are lost to suicide every day. That is unacceptable to all Americans,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “In March, IAVA launched our Campaign to Combat Suicide, a historic plan to reverse this alarming trend. It included demanding action from the President and Congress, and earlier this month, we introduced the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act. But not enough has been done. Although the VA scandal has continued to grow, it’s fallen from the headlines. And President Obama has still not met with IAVA and leading veterans groups. Washington is not listening. Even worse, they’re getting ready to go on vacation. In IAVA’s Membership Survey, 69% of respondents think Congress is doing a poor job improving the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. So IAVA is taking our message to the people. We’re asking all Americans to join our fight. And we’re calling in some big guns for reinforcements.”
“And that’s why we’re launching IAVA’s Convoy to Combat Suicide – which will take our message nationwide, promote awareness and inspire action. IAVA will be linking up with some of the biggest performers in the world, and top companies, local community leaders and most importantly, IAVA members and supporters. Working with such established leaders will help us take the Campaign to Combat Suicide to millions of people from all backgrounds. This Convoy will help us fight suicide by letting vets and their loved ones know that there are resources out there for them to use. And it shows that no matter where you come from, or what kind of music you love, you can stand with our veterans and have their backs.”
“We are so proud to announce that Lady Gaga has our back. Lady Gaga has always fought for important issues and we’re humbled to see her expanding her activism to include veterans causes. IAVA members are thrilled, honored and energized to have Lady Gaga’s support for our cause.”
“Cale Conley has also been a true supporter for the veteran community. IAVA is honored to work alongside him as he continues to be a force in NASCAR.”
“Linkin Park is a global powerhouse. After announcing our partnership “LP for Vets” a few weeks ago, IAVA is thrilled to take it to the next level later this summer with their “Carnivores” tour. LP’s reach and message will empower IAVA to reach millions around the world.”
“For the fifth summer in a row, Miller High Life has partnered with IAVA. Once again we’re bringing out veterans and their families to special community building events throughout the country to connect them with much needed resources and most importantly, with each other.”
“IAVA is also proud to expand our strong partnership with Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. With more events in 2014 than ever, Mayhem really has IAVA’s back. Hard rock fans have always had a deep connection to the vets community, and we’re psyched to take this to the next level with the incredible bands in the line-up this year including Korn, Avenged Sevenfold and Body Count featuring Ice-T.”
Every Convoy to Combat Suicide event will feature a display of 22 flags to symbolize the 22 veterans lost every day to suicide. Events will also include a featured local IAVA leader, press availability, facts about the issues facing vets in the local area, special guest speakers, recognition of local leaders on stage, and multiple ways to get involved with IAVA’s fight to reduce the trend of veterans suicides.
Scheduled dates and cities currently include:
• July 14, AT&T Center – San Antonio, TX
• July 17, American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
• July 19, MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, NV
• August 4, EnergySolutions Arena – Salt Lake City, UT
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
• July 27, Xfinity Theatre – Hartford, CT
• July 29, Darien Lake PAC – Darien Center, NY
• July 30, Nikon Theater at Jones Beach – Wantagh, NY
• August 1, Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ
• August 2, Toyota Pavilion – Scranton, PA
• August 3, Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, VA
• August 5, Lakewood Amphitheatre – Atlanta, GA
• August 6, Memphis International Raceway – Millington, TN
• August 7, OKC Downtown Airpark – Oklahoma City, OK
• August 9, Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX
• August 10, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – The Woodlands, TX
• August 29, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre – Tinley Park, IL
• August 30, DTE Energy Music Theatre- Clarkston, MI
• September 5, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion- Woodlands, TX
• September 6, Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX
• September 10, US Airways Center – Phoenix, AZ
• September 13, Gorge Amphitheatre- George, WA
• September 15, Hollywood Bowl- Hollywood, CA
• September 16, Sleep Train Amphitheatre – Chula Vista, CA
• September 18, Sleep Train Amphitheatre – Wheatland, CA
• September 19, Concord Pavilion- Concord, CA
• August 8, Cruzan Amphitheatre- West Palm Beach, FL
• August 9, George Steinbrenner Field – Tampa, FL
• August 12, PNC Music Pavilion- Charlotte, NC
• August 13, Jiffy Lube Live- Bristow, VA
• August 15, Susquehanna Bank Center- Camden, NJ
• August 16, Xfinity Center- Mansfield, MA
• August 18, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
• August 19, Nikon Theater at Jones Beach- Wantagh, NY
• August 21, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center – Darien Center, NY
• August 26, Minnesota State Fair – St. Paul, MN
• August 29, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre – Chicago, IL
• August 30, DTE Energy Theatre – Clarkston, MI
• September 5, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – Houston, TX
• September 6, Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX
• September 8, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Englewood, CO
• September 10, US Airways Center – Phoenix, AZ
• September 11, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – Irvine, CA
• September 13, The Gorge – Seattle, WA
• September 15, Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
• September 17, Sleep Train Amphitheatre, San Diego, CA
• September 18, Sleep Train Amphitheatre, Sacramento, CA
• September 19, Concord Pavilion in Concord, CA
Miller High Life
• August 13, Royals vs Athletics – Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
• August 15, Nationals vs Pirates, Nationals Park, Washington, DC
• August 22, Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN
• September 5, Richmond International Speedway, Richmond, VA
• September 20, Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, KY
• September 27, Dover International Speedway, Dover, DE
All year long IAVA will activate every element of its membership, programs and partners – both on the ground and online. IAVA will incorporate this effort into everything we do from our monthly VetTogethers to our over 500,000-person strong social media community. We will empower our almost 300,000 members and supporters to serve as a ground force for outreach, support and advocacy. And we will travel the country, turning public attention to the issue of veteran suicide and promoting solutions.
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"Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America...remains the most important organization representing the new generation of veterans." - TIME Magazine
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the premier veterans advocacy and support organization on the planet. Founded by an Iraq veteran in 2004, IAVA is the non-partisan leader in advocacy, public awareness, and 1-on-1 case management support. Our mission is to connect, unite, and empower over 425,000 veterans and allies nationwide. We have connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided thousands of veterans of all generations with life-saving and life-changing personalized support from our Masters-level social service professionals.
Learn more at iava.org.