05/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011 Massive New Ad Campaign Targets Vets' Friends and Families

Last November, on Veterans Day, I told you about IAVA’s groundbreaking national public service advertisement campaign to help veterans coming home from war reintegrate into their communities. You’ve probably seen the TV ad on ESPN, CNN, or MTV. (One good thing about this economy is that the ads are getting even more traction than we expected – stations have a lot more inventory.)

But reaching out to veterans was only one piece of the puzzle.  When servicemembers deploy, they leave behind wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends and coworkers.  They are the ones waiting for phone calls, worrying for their loved ones’ safety, and welcoming our warriors home.  Our troops’ friends and families are called to service on the homefront, and they need support, too.  

I’d like to share the story of one of those military families.

Don Gomez was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.  He deployed twice, securing supply lines along the dangerous highways of Iraq.  Don is home now, studying at the City College of New York.  He was recently named a Truman Scholar. But while he was gone, his mother, father and fiancée struggled.  They wanted to stay positive, and be tough for Don, but they were afraid for his safety.  And when he came back, Don was different.  According to Don’s father, “He seemed harder. He had been overseas and he made it back. He didn't really want to talk about it."  His family wanted to understand what Don had been through, and help him make the transition home – but they weren’t sure how to start the conversation.

For families like the Gomez’s, we’re launching a second PSA campaign with the Ad Council.  If anything, it’s going to be even bigger than the first campaign.  In the coming weeks and months, you’ll be seeing the ads on TV, on the radio, in magazines, airports, and billboards nationwide.  Be among the first to see our new television PSA here:

You can check out the print and radio ads here.

The ad directs friends and family members to a unique new website,, where friends and family members can find critical resources, tips on how to talk to veterans about their experiences, and forums where they can connect with one another.

And this campaign could not come at a more critical time.  Over the next two years, hundreds of thousands of veterans will be coming home from Iraq for the last time.  We have a unique opportunity, in this brief moment, to finally turn the page on Vietnam, and welcome our veterans home with the honor and support they have earned.  Much of that burden will fall on the friends and families of our servicemembers.  As a nation, it’s time to support the people who stand behind our troops every day.

So check out the ad, and forward it on to anyone you know who needs help starting the conversation with the veteran in their life. Help us reach our goal of 100,000 views on YouTube by Mother's Day.  It’s a small step, but you will be making a real difference in the lives of military families.

Crossposted at