New York, NY (February 23, 2015) – ‘Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1’ a documentary about the Veterans Crisis Line in upstate New York, earned an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject during the 87th Academy Awards. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) co-presented the documentary with HBO and is included in its production credits. ‘American Sniper,’ the biopic of Iraq war veteran U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, also earned an Oscar for Best Sound Editing. IAVA commends the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for spotlighting veterans’ mental health care.
In 2007, IAVA was a leader in pushing Congress to pass the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which created the Veterans Crisis Line. Serviced by personnel with appropriate mental health training, the legislation ensured the availability of services for mental health care for veterans on a 24-hour basis.
‘American Sniper,’ based on Kyle’s New York Times best-selling biography of the same name, offers a gripping portrayal of the Iraq War, the struggles of post-traumatic stress and the impact of war on military families. In early February, IAVA offered special screenings of the film to IAVA members in 18 cities nationwide.
“IAVA salutes the American Sniper team and Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 for their Oscar wins,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “After more than 13 years at war, it is great to see veterans’ mental health issues so visible during the Academy Awards. We salute Dana Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent for their incredible work showcasing the invaluable work of the men and women at the Veterans Crisis Line who work behind the scenes to save veterans’ lives each day. These men and women are true heroes. IAVA is proud to partner with the Veterans Crisis Line and to have worked tirelessly for the past year to pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act. Suicide is not just a veterans’ issue, but a true public health issue, and we thank HBO for starting a national conversation on this once taboo subject.”
Rieckhoff continued: “With American Sniper our community finally has a war film classic that hits the cinematic bulls eye in revealing the challenges our generation of veterans face. American Sniper is a game-changer for our community, and it has become the defining film of the Iraq War. American Sniper’s successful box office numbers are a testament to how Americans are now engaged in the challenges faced by post-9/11 veterans when they come home. This movie best reflects the turmoil our servicemembers – and their families – experience when a loved one is deployed and when they transition home. The movie truly puts the civilian in the boots of an American veteran.”
Earlier this month, IAVA-sponsored legislation, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act was signed into law by President Obama. Like Chris Kyle, Clay was veteran sniper from Texas who encountered mental health challenges when he returned from service in Iraq. While boosting accountability of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the bill provides VA tools to increase access to mental health care and capacity to meet demand, and develops a community support system for veterans.
IAVA offers free membership to post-9/11 veterans. Interested veterans can visit iava.org to sign up for free membership and learn about IAVA’s programs such as the Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP).
IAVA connects veterans to mental health services, including partnering with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line to ensure that every servicemember, veteran, family member and provider knows that there is free and confidential help available 24 hours a day through phone, text and online. Veterans, or those concerned about veterans, can call 800-273-8255 and press 1 to be directly connected to qualified responders.
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.