The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) was announced as a strategic partner of the new “Got Your 6″ campaign, an initiative inspired by the White House’s Joining Forces that unites the entertainment industry with top tier nonprofit organizations to change the military-civilian conversation in America. The campaign was officially launched Thursday, May 10, in Hollywood, with the mission to empower the nation’s veterans and military families to be understood as leaders and assets that will reinvigorate their communities and the nation.
IVMF executive director and founder Mike Haynie, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and IVMF founding director of operations & development Ray Toenniessen, an Army veteran, participated in the campaign launch event. The launch was attended by leaders in the entertainment industry, including Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios and a Marine Corps veteran. Meyer, a longtime supporter of SU’s Newhouse School, has made several campus visits to meet and speak with students, was a guest lecturer for SU’s LA Semester program and has twice served as a co-chair for the Newhouse’s Mirror Awards ceremony. He received an honorary degree from SU in 2010.
In military vernacular, the expression “Got Your Six” means “I’ve got your back, and in turn, you have mine.” The six o’clock position, or “six,” is located at the rear of a military formation. The reciprocal nature of the “Got your six” statement underlies the message that the campaign strives to spread to all Americans, a powerful show of respect and understanding for this nation’s veterans and military families to take significant steps toward bridging the growing civilian-military divide.
The entertainment industry is the catalyst for the campaign’s message. Utilizing a multidimensional communications strategy, the industry is leveraging grassroots work being done by nonprofits in communities across the country through a collaborative effort that will use best-in-class entities from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The campaign spans film, television, gaming, print, radio, outdoor and social media platforms to elevate the conversation around veterans. Actors Tom Hanks, Bradley Cooper, Michael Douglas and Sarah Jessica Parker are among a cadre of stars taking part in public service announcements for the campaign, as well as NBC’s Brian Williams. In addition, gold “6” lapel pins are being sported by supporters of the campaign.
“The post-military life course of this generation of veterans will be influenced by the extent to which we are successful at bridging the military-civilian divide in this country, and how these veterans are portrayed in media distributed by the entertainment industry will impact this effort,” says Haynie. “We are excited to serve as a strategic partner in the ‘Got Your 6’ campaign in order to better recognize, honor and support our nation’s veterans and military families.”
“Got Your 6” is run by an independent entertainment industry steering committee with one representative from every major studio, broadcast network, cable group, talent agency and guild. The campaign will use the tools and reach of the entertainment industry to reintroduce military veterans and culture to all Americans. Elements of the awareness campaign include script integration, creative original content, celebrity endorsements, distribution of “Got Your 6” merchandise, veteran hiring fairs, civilian-military service opportunities and additional programs.
“Got Your 6” focuses on the activation of the American public through six key pillars of veteran reintegration: jobs, education, health, housing, family and leadership. For each of the six pillars, a group of expert activation partners establish a concrete set of tangible goals that can be identified, measured and reported in quantifiable terms. Activation partners develop a plan to track progress toward the goals, establish a method to engage the general public and formulate a strategy to utilize the resources of the campaign. Commitments are officially recorded through the Clinton Global Initiative.
Each pillar is represented by a partnership of activation partners. Lead activation partners include:
- Jobs–U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program
- Education–Student Veterans of America and The Pat Tillman Foundation
- Housing–The 100,000 Homes Campaign
- Health–Give An Hour™
- Family–Blue Star Families & The Military Child Education Coalition
- Leadership–The Mission Continues
The “Got Your 6” campaign is housed at the 501(c)(3) organization ServiceNation. As an agent for the “Got Your 6” steering committee, ServiceNation serves as an independent organizing body responsible for planning, management and support of the campaign. ServiceNation provides staffing and fiscal oversight for the campaign, in accordance with the directives of the steering committee.
ServiceNation has enlisted the support of numerous strategic partners, including the IVMF, which will provide invaluable advice to the campaign, contribute unique best practices and assist in the execution of the activation campaign across all pillars. Strategic partners include:
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
- Points of Light Institute
- Code of Support Network
- American Red Cross2
- Sierra Club
- Bob Woodruff Foundation
- Operation Gratitude
- Warrior Gateway
- Volunteers of America