Veterans to be Honored by Hollywood on May 8

Veterans to be Honored by Hollywood on May 8

CONTACT: Carlisle Williams (212) 982-9699 or


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CONTACT: Carlisle Williams, 212-982-9699,


Veterans to be Honored by Hollywood on May 8

Kathy Griffin, Comedian to Receive 2013 Leadership in Entertainment Award

Ronald Katz, Founder of Operation Mend, to Receive Leadership Award at Annual Heroes Celebration


LOS ANGELES  (April 22) – As America marks more than ten years of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, announced it will host the 5th Annual Heroes Celebration on Wednesday, May 8th in Los Angeles to honor the veterans of the wars and the distinguished IAVA supporters who rally the country behind them.  IAVA is proud to honor Kathy Griffin with the 2013 Leadership in Entertainment Award and Ronald Katz, founder of UCLA’s Operation Mend, with the 2013 Community Leadership Award.

The Heroes Celebration will bring together the worlds of media, business, and entertainment to support our nation’s veterans and their families.  Active-duty service members as well as veterans and wounded warriors from the LA area will be attending.  Among those attending include Iraq veteran and IAVA member J.R. Martinez, actor and Dancing with the Stars champion, and Rich Franklin, an Ultimate Fighting Championship star.

Past Heroes Celebration honorees have included Minka Kelly, actress, USO entertainer and advocate, Shad Meshad, Vietnam Veteran and President and Founder of the National Veterans Foundation, and Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, filmmakers of the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo. Previous attendees have included Bradley Cooper and Milo Ventimiglia.

“At IAVA’s Heroes Celebration, we honor the service of our friends and families, as well as those who improve the lives of veterans when they return home.  Kathy Griffin has been a steadfast supporter of our vets across the country.  Ron Katz is a home front hero, and we are excited to honor him for his commitment to providing exceptional care to our veterans when they return home,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff.

The IAVA Leadership in Entertainment Award is presented to an individual who has shown immense dedication and commitment to our community both professionally and personally. Through their prestigious career in the film industry, they have been a friend and advocate for veterans and their families nationwide

Kathy Griffin has been a long time supporter of vets and their families.  From her continued work with USO, to Kathy’s involvement with VetDogs and her personal commitment to end the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Kathy has been someone the military community can count on to have their voices heard.

Katz has been a steadfast advocate for veterans and their families nationwide.  Operation Mend started with facial reconstruction in partnership with Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), a leading burn and rehabilitation center in San Antonio, Texas, the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and UCLA Health System. The program has since expanded in order to optimize healing-body, mind, and spirit. In addition to plastic and reconstructive surgery, mental-health support (for warriors and their families), orthopedic reconstruction for severely damaged limbs, urologic treatment, otolaryngological care, the examination and treatment of reproductive issues, repair of airways, and design of new prosthetic ears are provided.

“Ronald Katz and UCLA’s Operation Mend provide the best possible care to our injured veterans returning home.  Veterans need specialized care for their unique injuries sustained during combat, and Mr. Katz and his team at Operation Mend have expanded their practice to care for veterans’ bodies and minds.  Thanks to their efforts, veterans are able to live a better life.  IAVA is indebted to Mr. Katz and Operation Mend for their service and commitment,” Rieckhoff added.

“I am proud to join with IAVA in working to strengthen the care for veterans returning home.  Whether it is injuries sustained on the battlefield, or challenges they face once they return home, both IAVA and Operation Mend are working to offer resources and our commitment to the new greatest generation,” Katz said.

Support for the Fifth Annual Heroes Celebration comes from our Champion Sponsors: CNN and Western Asset Mangement Company; Patron Sponsors: United Service Organization; Supporter: Lear Family Foundation; Benefit Tickets: Scott Carter, Laurie David, and Universal Studios. Additional support from MillerCoors, Resnick Family Foundation, and Ciroc.

The Heroes Celebration supports IAVA’s efforts throughout the year, including free membership and access to resources, services, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. 

Note to media: The Heroes Celebration will begin at 7 p.m. PDT on Wednesday May 8 at the Mr. C Hotel in Beverly Hills. Media are highly encouraged to attend for interviews with local Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  Press are NOT required to purchase tickets in advance and will receive credentials upon checking in.  Please RSVP to

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