Top media and advertising personnel will gather to support the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which is holding its 9th Annual Heroes Gala in New York Thursday, the day after veterans day.
The IAVA aims to support post-9/11 veterans by creating empowerment, advocacy and awareness and providing employment opportunities.
“We owe something to these tremendous individuals first and foremost as Americans and as community leaders with the corporations we represent,” said former head of ad sales for CNN Greg D’Alba, now president of global sales and marketing at WME/IMG. D’Alba is cochairman of the 2015 IAVA Heroes Gala along with Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales at Discovery Communications, whose networks include the American Heroes Channel.
Sponsors of the dinner include Craigconnects, Victory Motorcycles, Discovery, American Heroes Channel, Legg Mason Global Asset Management, Turner Broadcasting, WME, NBA Cares, USAA, DAV, HBO, Morgan Stanley and TriWest Healthcare Alliance.
The IAVA expects more than 600 people to attend the gala and to raise between $1.3 million and $1.5 million.
The dinner, held at Cipriani 42nd Street will honor Scott Wine for his work for veterans as CEO of Polaris Industries and Daniel Rodriguez, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient who after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan played football at Clemson and was invited to try out for the St. Louis Rams.
Willie Geist of Morning Joe and the Today show will host and Stephen Colbert of The Late Show will be a special guest.
There will be a livestream on the IAVA website and American Heroes Channel is planning a piece about the event.
D’Alba, who comes from a military family, says he got involved with the IAVA when the group was creating its first commercial for the Ad Council. The images of a veteran returning from war moved him.
“We’re a privileged generation that didn’t have to go to war, or enlist or be drafted and we have these wonderful lives and careers post 9/11,” he said. “We owe something to these tremendous individuals first and foremost as Americans and certainly as community leaders with the corporations we represent.”
D’Alba says companies need to create career opportunities for returning veterans and credited the IAVA for helping to shape the media conversation about this new generation of veterans, who represent about 1% of the population but allow the other 99% to enjoy their live. “The people that serve deserve our love and attention,” he says.