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I had the privilege and honor of attending the IAVA Heroes Gala that honored our veterans. With all the loud applause, cheers and HOOAH shout outs you would have never been able to guess you were in the middle of New York City. On the night of November 10th, IAVA made New York City into the most patriotic place on earth and it was surreal to see all the celebrities and New York socialites loudly supporting and cheering for our troops. Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Director of NBC Nightly News was a lively Master of Ceremonies and showed us a side of him that we don’t see in the news. One of my favorite moments of the night happened when Brian spoke about his love of NASCAR and later got in some funny banter over his TV habits with Van Toffler, MTV’s President. The night ended by a touching tribute by PS22 Choir filled with 5th and 6th graders that have performed in the past with Beyonce and Lady GaGa. My main objective of the night was to ask those in attendance two questions.
What is the best way for youth to get involved in supporting our troops? What is media’s influence on youth towards military perception?
Out all the people I spoke with, here are some of the more notable reactions I wanted to highlight here:
O.A.R.-This band is no stranger to supporting the troops and they are currently partnered with IAVA to encourage youth to recognize our veterans and support them. Through videos and compelling footage they give their fans a reminder about the sacrifices of our troops. These guys have family and friends that are veterans and active duty and they make sure to give a shout out to troops and their concerts.
Van Toffler, President, MTV-Mr. Toffler who was also a recipient of the Civilian Service Award said that education is key, youth must be exposed to what Veteran’s go through and that MTV is making a conscious effort to do so through their programming.
Miss New York, Alyse Zwicke,- Alyse brought up an interesting point and I wanted to make sure it got showcased. In the age of social media, it is so easy to support the troops with notes of encouragement and with little effort youth can do quite a bit.
J.R. Martinez, Actor, Motivational Speaker, Veteran– J.R. was the recipient of the Veteran’s Leadership Award and truly does so much to support the Armed Services Community. J.R. expressed that media is a very powerful tool when it comes to influencing youth. He believes that certain types of media are known to have a negative impact on youth perception towards military and has to an extent attributed to a lack of respect youth have toward the armed services. He urges prominent media figures to stand up and support our troops.
Below are some pictures form the night.