NEW YORK, NY (September 20, 2018) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is thrilled to announce that Rob Riggle, comedian, actor and decorated Marine Corps veteran, will be honored at the IAVA Annual Heroes Gala with the 2018 IAVA Veteran Leadership Award. IAVA is extremely proud to honor Riggle, whose commitment to the veterans community includes over 20 years of service in the United States Marine Corps, consistent involvement with IAVA and other veterans groups, and strong ambassadorship to the military as a reservist and a Public Affairs Officer. Riggle has become a household name as a hilarious fixture on Fox’s Sunday NFL Pregame coverage as the official “comedian and game prognosticator.”
“Rob is an incredible talent, a hilarious comedian and a powerful advocate and role model for veterans everywhere. He’s an example of what’s possible for veterans returning from war. As his career has continued to grow, he’s never forgotten his brothers and sisters in uniform. It’s an honor to have a chance to recognize Rob’s service to our country and his leadership for our community,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA . “Rob’s extensive and impressive career as an actor and comedian — and a really, really funny one at that — is matched only by his equally impressive career in the Marine Corps. He embodies IAVA’s #VetsRising message and the values our community and all Americans hold dear. He became a successful actor while still in the Marine Corps Reserves, all while giving back to his military community. He has traveled to Iraq with the Daily Show and performed for troops with USO. He has been on hit shows like SNL, The Office, Modern Family, and hilarious and iconic films like Talladega Nights, The Hangover, The Other Guys, 21 Jump Street and the soon to be released Night School. He played his former commanding officer in the movie 12 Strong about the US Special Forces team that was the first group of troops in Afghanistan after 9/11. Riggle first joined Fox NFL Sunday in 2012 for his weekly segment titled “Riggle’s Picks,” offering NFL game predictions alongside co-hosts Curt Menefee and Terry Bradshaw and analysts Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long and Michael Strahan. And he has also deployed three times — to Liberia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. We’re honored to have him join us for this incredible night to unite and honor our veterans.”
The IAVA Veteran Leadership Award is presented annually to an exceptional veteran that has been a steadfast champion for the veterans’ movement and represented us at a truly historic level. The list of past honorees includes Wes Moore, J.R. Martinez, Admiral Mike Mullen, Senator Tammy Duckworth and General David Petraeus. Last year the award was presented to Medal of Honor Recipient Florent Groberg.
“I’m humbled to be honored by my fellow veterans at IAVA in this amazing way,” said Mr. Riggle. “My time as a Marine has shaped everything I do and has been critical to my success. My fellow Marines and veterans of all services continue to inspire me every day. IAVA continues to be a critical, powerful voice for me and all veterans everywhere. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Heroes Gala and excited for a fantastic and inspiring night!”
In its groundbreaking 12th year, IAVA’s annual Heroes Gala will be on Thursday, November 8th, just three days before Veterans Day, at the dazzling Manhattan Classic Car Club at Hudson River Park’s Pier 76 in New York City, a bold new venue that embodies the modern, innovative IAVA mission. Riggle will join special guests Stephen Colbert of CBS’ The Late Show and Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright and Civilian Leadership Honoree, IAVA Board member and founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark.
Over the past twelve years, the IAVA Heroes Gala has established itself as the premier event of the Veterans Week calendar in America. It’s an event where national leaders of all industries are united. The event empowers IAVA in its support of post-9/11 veterans by raising millions of dollars for best-in-class advocacy and transition support service programs nationwide for over one million veterans. This year, the Heroes Gala will also celebrate and support IAVA’s historic Big 6 Advocacy campaign, which focuses on elevating veterans voices in the face of unprecedented politicization and achieving meaningful progress on 6 key issues:
1) Sustain the campaign to combat suicide among troops and veterans.
2) Sustain the campaign to recognize and improve services for women veterans
3) Defend veteran and military education benefits
4) Defend and reform government support for today’s veterans
5) Initiate support for injuries from burn pits and other toxic exposures
6) Initiate empowerment of veterans who want to utilize cannabis
Past honorees and distinguished guests have come from across the military, business, sports, entertainment and politics and include: Michael Bloomberg, Meghan McCain, Medal of Honor recipient Flo Groberg, Henry Kissinger, Shannon Sharpe, VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Rosanne Haggerty, Admiral Mike Mullen, Jon Stewart, Peter G. Peterson, General David Petraeus, Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Joan Ganz Cooney, Julian Bond, Roger Waters, David Gelbaum, Arnold Fisher, Senator Tammy Duckworth; Medal of Honor Recipient Sal Giunta, Willie Geist, Wes Moore, J.R. Martinez, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Bill Hemmer, Rachel Maddow, Leslie Gelb, Coach Bill Cowher, Peter Berg, Norah Jones, Marc Roberge and OAR, Bob Woodruff, Skip Bayless, Harry Carson, Katie Nolan, Michelle Monaghan, Sebastian Junger, Clay Aiken and many more.
Additional special guests and honorees will be announced in the coming months.
The 2018 IAVA Heroes Gala is sponsored by: Craig Newmark, Southwest, Barbaricum, Bob Woodruff Foundation, Western Asset Management, The District Communications Group, AbbVie, Heritage Strategies LLC, Reingold, Steve Tisch Family Foundation, Lizzie & Jonathan Tisch Family Foundation, HBO, The NFL, JCRT and more.
Sponsorship packages and tickets are still available to the 12th Annual IAVA Heroes Gala online.
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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.