The Easter Seals Advocacy Awards for the Washington, DC; Maryland, and Virginia areas honoring Tom Brokaw, Gary Sinise, and CITI for their work helping veterans, were awarded in Washington, DC on April 16, 2013.
In addition to Sinise and Brokaw, in attendance were Phil Panzarella, Chairman of the Board, Easter Seals (DC, MD, VA); Lisa Reeves, President and CEO of Easter Seals (DC, MD, VA); Executive Vice President and Head, Global Affairs of CITI Candi Wolff; combat veteran, wounded heroine and congresswoman Tammy Duckworth; 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral (retired) Michael Mullen; Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General John Campbell; and Defense News’ Vago Muradian .
Easter Seals has been around 100 years, “providing a wide range of programs to support people of all ages.” They saw a need in helping our veterans and are committed and focused to that mission.
Easter Seals has programs specifically focusing on active duty military, veterans, and their families through their programs: military family respite program, veterans employment program, family caregiver training, little warriors child development program, and senior and adult day services.
CITI was honored for its “CITI Salutes” program. The CITI program focuses on employing veterans. Reeves shared, “ CITI employs more than 2,000 military veterans and has been recognized as a ‘Best for Vets’ work place, making them a logical choice to earn this honor.”
Congresswoman Duckworth introduced Sinise. This was the first time the representative and Sinise had met. However, Sinise remembered when she was injured in a plane crash and he called her at the hospital.
Sinise was honored for his work with veterans through his Gary Sinise Foundation and his co-founded Operations International Children. Sinise quoted Winston Churchill about doing his “bit to help.” He shared how during WWII the elderly would knit socks for the soldiers fighting, as everyone was doing their bit to help. His foundation is holding an event with the wounded heroes at Walter Reed on May 17. Sinise comes to DC often because his daughter goes to college here, he hosts the National Memorial Day Concert with actor Joe Mantegna, and his advocacy for our veterans. He has no plans to run for office as he is “just an actor.”
Admiral Mullen, who called Brokaw a good friend, introduced Brokaw. Admiral Mullen’s wife, Deborah Mullen, was the impetus to get Mr. Brokaw involved with Easter Seals. Mrs. Mullen serves as the honorary chair for the 2013 Advocacy Awards Dinner. Admiral Mullen told the audience that he and his wife “will help our veterans until we are both unable.”
Brokaw was honored for his work advocating for our military and veterans through his journalistic endeavors. He gave an impassioned speech about how society is becoming disassociated from our military and we need to get reconnected. He believes the VA backlog exists because the government is not focusing on the issue and applying the resources it needs to fix the problem.
Veterans are encouraged to contact CITI Salutes, Easter Seals, and the Gary Sinise Foundation for help.
Guest blog post by Marlene Hall, former air force officer passionately dedicated to helping our veterans.