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Lone Survivor’s Peter Berg to be Honored by Vets May 6 in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (April 18, 2014) –- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, today announced it will host the Sixth Annual Heroes Celebration on Tuesday, May 6th at 7 p.m. PDT at Mr. C Hotel in Beverly Hills. The event will celebrate the extraordinary contributions of post-9/11 veterans and their civilian supporters. The annual event will also recognize one Hollywood leader who has significantly supported the veterans cause. This year, IAVA is proud to announce it will honor director, producer, actor and writer Peter Berg – who recently wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated, blockbuster hit, “Lone Survivor” – with the 2014 Leadership in Entertainment Award. Anthony M. Hassan, Clinical Associate Professor and Director, USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, will receive the 2014 Civilian Service Award for his tremendous contributions nationally, and especially to the Los Angeles area.

The Heroes Celebration will bring together the worlds of media, business and entertainment in Hollywood for a star-studded event to show appreciation for our nation’s veterans and their families. Active-duty service members as well as veterans from the Los Angeles area will participate in the inspiring event. A video of last year’s Heroes Celebration can be viewed here.

“At IAVA’s Heroes Celebration, we honor our vets, servicemembers, and friends and family who help ease the transition home for the brave men and women who have served our country. In the last year, nobody has done more for our community than Peter Berg. As the son of a Marine, Peter has a powerful connection to the military and veterans’ community. ‘Lone Survivor,’ is an already iconic film that has jumpstarted a national conversation about what it means to have served in America after 9/11. The ground-breaking film illustrates the heroism that our vets and servicemembers embody everyday,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “But Peter’s contribution extends far beyond the film. He, Mark Wahlberg, and his entire team have consistently used their platform to bring recognition, respect and support to the veterans community in a way that is impossible to truly quantify. When it comes to Hollywood, veterans everywhere know that Peter Berg and the ‘Lone Survivor’ team have really had our back.”

Proceeds from the event will support IAVA’s critical Campaign to Combat Suicide. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans a day die by suicide. IAVA’s nationwide programs are fighting every day to reverse this alarming trend.

Past Heroes Celebration honorees include Kathy Griffin, comedian, USO entertainer and military supporter; Ronald Katz, founder of UCLA’s Operation Mend; Minka Kelly, actress, USO entertainer and advocate; Shad Meshad, Vietnam Veteran and President and Founder of the National Veterans Foundation; and Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington, filmmakers of the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo. Previous attendees have included top leaders from Hollywood, sports and business, including T-Bone Burnett, Bradley Cooper, Coach Bill Cowher, Cameron Diaz, Robert Gupta, Arianna Huffington, Norman Lear, J.R. Martinez, Shawne Merriman, Ron Meyer, former Congressman Patrick Murphy, Craig Newmark, Henry Rollins, Teddy Sears, and Milo Ventimiglia.

The IAVA Leadership in Entertainment Award is presented to an individual who has shown immense dedication and commitment to our community both professionally and personally. Berg is known for directing films such as “Very Bad Things,” “The Rundown,” “Friday Night Lights” and “The Kingdom.” The son of a Marine, Berg most recently wrote, directed, and produced “Lone Survivor” based on the 2007 nonfiction book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson. Set during the war in Afghanistan, “Lone Survivor” dramatizes the failed United States Navy SEALs counter-insurgent mission Operation Red Wings, in which a four-man SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team was tasked to track Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.

The esteemed recipient of the 2014 Civilian Service Award, Dr. Anthony Hassan, was appointed clinical associate professor at the USC School of Social Work in 2009, serving as the inaugural Director of the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR) and chair for the military social work program. A retired Air Force officer, Dr. Hassan has 25 years of experience in military social work and leadership development. His career has been marked by an interest in administration, leadership and innovation.

“Dr. Hassan and the USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR) have been instrumental in making sure our men and women in uniform are cared for,” Rieckhoff said. “IAVA is grateful for Dr. Hassan’s commitment to addressing some of the most urgent issues facing our community, including high rates of unemployment and suicide. Dr Hassan is an innovative champion that all of Los Angeles – and all of America – should be very proud of.”

The Heroes Celebration supports IAVA’s efforts throughout the year, including free membership and access to resources, services, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

In January, IAVA announced the expansion of its innovative veterans assistance program, the Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP), across California. RRRP is a new approach to supporting post-9/11 veterans by directly connecting them and their families to local resources and to one-on-one support with IAVA’s Veteran Transition Managers. RRRP helps cut through red tape and provides California post-9/11 veterans and their families with access to services ranging across employment, education, housing, mental health and more. Veterans can contact a California RRRP case manager by calling 855-91-RAPID (855-917-2743), emailing transition@iava.org, or visiting www.IAVA.org/RRRP.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.