Heroes Honored in Los Angeles

Earlier this month, veterans and the networks that support them received a big thanks in Los Angeles. Raúl Garza from the California Community Foundation shared the following about the event:

U.S. military veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and the nonprofit organizations serving them and their families were honored for service to their country and communities in a special tribute at the 2011 Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles Awards, presented by the California Community Foundation and co-sponsored by The Eisner Foundation, on October 12. 

Actors and philanthropists Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) and Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy) joined actor Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock and Whitney) in presenting awards to individuals for their extraordinary and unselfish charity and local nonprofits for their outstanding service to the community. 

Antonia Hernández, President and CEO of the community foundation, gave special recognition to the Iraq and Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund (IADIF).  Founded by David and Monica Gelbaum, and directed by Nancy Berglass, IADIF has distributed $243 million since 2006 to 53 nonprofits nationwide to support more than 2 million troops and family members, and may be the largest charitable fund in the nation’s history dedicated to military and veteran support.

“Without the vision and support of donors to explore new territory for personal philanthropy, and exceptional leadership, none of IADIF’s significant accomplishments would have been possible,” said Hernández.

Nonprofits receiving special recognition at the biennial awards ceremony included Operation MEND, a unique partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, and the V.A.-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.  Also highlighted was New Directions, a provider of comprehensive services such as substance abuse treatment, remedial education, job training and placement, and legal assistance to thousands of men and women veterans in L.A., many of whom are homeless. 

“Warriors do not come home to a federal agencies, they come home to communities,” said Berglass.  “It is in communities across the country that nonprofits are tackling the devastating impact of war head-on and in the process, saving lives, keeping families together, providing mental health support and helping warriors reintegrate successfully with civilian society.”

Delegations of veterans and staff of veterans’ organizations attended the Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles Awards celebration, which culminated in an emotional performance by the New Directions Choir, a group comprised of formerly homeless soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as well as staff and clients of the organization.

Brad Cooper is Executive Director of Joining Forces in the Office of the First Lady.

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