Start the Conversation

If it wasn't for good friend and fellow PR pro Sydney Ayers, I'd still be unaware of the plight of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Syd called me last October and asked if Peppercom would consider pro bono work for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Ad Council (which was developing an ad campaign for the group).IAVA

I paused for a nanosecond and then said, "Sure." It was one of my few smart decisions in recent months.

Working with Paul Rieckhoff and his staff at IAVA has been a real joy. I've learned so much about a subject of which I knew so little. And, my firm is charged up to step in and generate some meaningful publicity to help the vets.

The challenge? Letting returning veterans know that there's a support infrastructure here at home to help them with their post-traumatic stress disorder issues. Simultaneously, we'll be connecting with the families and friends of vets to educate them on the warning signs of PTSD. You can find information on each here and here.

Paul Rieckhoff has written a page-turner of a book about Iraq and the returning vets called Chasing Ghosts. There's also a riveting, award-winning documentary film on the subject called When I Came Home.

With all of America's current challenges, it's easy to overlook the plight of returning veterans. But, here's the deal: they volunteered their lives to protect us and now it's our turn to step up and return the favor. So, start the conversation. Do it by visiting one of the sites and seeing how you might be able to help. The vets aren't asking for a lot: just to know that PTSD isn't something to be ashamed of and that a network of trained mental health experts are available to help them deal with their issues.

It's a great cause and I know that Paul Rieckhoff and his IAVA troops would appreciate anything you or your organization could do. So, speak up. It's never too late to start the conversation with a returning vet.

2 thoughts on “Start the Conversation

  1. Oh Steve, you are too kind! The real genesis for this incredible effort was when the Ad Council reached out to the Public Relations Society of America for assistance. PRSA then looked to the Counselors Academy, one of the Society’s leading sections, to guide the IAVA initiative. That’s where I came in as the then Incoming Chair of the Academy.
    We were lucky to have so many interested (and highly qualified) firms to choose from among our ranks. And we could not be more thrilled that you represent us in this important endeavor!