Last night, the Easter Seals held their annual Advocacy Awards Dinner to honor exceptional advocates for veterans, wounded warriors, and their families. The three honorees were: Tom Brokaw, the legendary NBC broadcast journalist and author of The Greatest Generation, Gary Sinise, veterans advocate, award-winning actor for his roles in Forrest Gump and CSI: NY, and Citi, a leading corporation for supporting military personnel and their families and hiring veterans. The dinner was chaired by Candi Wolff, the Executive VP and Head of Global Government Affairs for Citi.
“The greatest challenge ahead for veterans is getting the public to understand their needs,” said Tom Brokaw. “After a few years, it becomes easy for the public to forget.” Brokaw has long been a supporter of veterans. In the past he has advocated for Hiring our Heroes, an initiative of the US Chamber of Commerce and has served as a moderator for the Robin Hood Foundation‘s national Veteran’s Summit.
“It’s been a long long war, and people are tired. But, we have thousands of troops that are still engaged in harm’s way. The role that I can play is to remind people and raise awareness,” said Gary Sinise. Besides acting, Sinise has also founded Operation International Children, which has helped supply the military with well over 400,000 supply kits and thousands of toys to children in conflict areas. His Gary Sinise Foundation also supports a variety of services for the nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and others in need.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth was also spotted at the event to support veterans’ rights. The congresswoman is an Iraq War veteran, who lost both of her legs from severe combat wounds.
Easter Seals’s new Veteran Staffing Network is an innovative social enterprise that addresses the needs of both the employers who want to hire and retain highly trained leaders and the veterans, wounded warriors, members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families seeking to transition to meaningful civilian employment. Because employers pay to find this talent, this makes the program “self-sustainable,” said David Muir, Jr., the SVP of the Veteran Staffing Network.
Dinner was announced by the Color Guard, from the Joint Forces HQ from Fort McNair. Phil Panzarella, Chairman of the Easter Seals Serving DC | MD | VA opened the awards presentations, before concluding with a video presentation and call to action.
Overall, it was a night that raised awareness for veterans and funds for programs that will benefit them in the years to come.