Earlier this week I had the honor of attending the 10th annual Armed Forces Foundation Congressional Gala. If you aren't familiar with the work AFF does, here's a summary:
The Armed Forces Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to supporting and advocating for active-duty military personnel, National Guardsmen, Reservists, military families, and veterans. The AFF returns 95 cents of every dollar raised to service members and their families through our programs. Since 2001, the AFF has provided more than $75 million in assistance by covering travel, hotel rooms, home mortgages, car payments and everyday bills for families to be able to stay at their loved ones’ sides during treatment and recovery from wounds suffered during war. With the launch of our Help Save Our Troops campaign, the AFF proactively educates Americans about the hidden wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and advocates for those troops and veterans who have suffered these hidden wounds. The ultimate goal of Help Save Our Troops is to reduce military suicides. Through this campaign, the AFF provides counseling services for military families, including children, grants for therapy and addiction counseling, and runs a variety of recreation group therapy programs to boost morale amongst service members, veterans, and their families.
In other words AFF, is an incredible organization taking care of our troops when they come home from war. An amazing 95 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to AFF programs, which have impacted more than 150,000 children and families. Money raised through AFF helps troops returning home with essential living expenses, bereavement assistance, psychological health and traumatic brain injury outreach, morale boosting recreation events, hospital outreach and more. Currently 600,000 of our veterans and soldiers are suffering from PTSD and everyday on average, 22 soldiers commit suicide every day. AFF is trying to change that.
“The hallmark of our PTSD, TBI, and suicide prevention efforts is our Help Save Our Troops campaign,” said AFF President Patricia Driscoll. “We’re using this initiative to change the perception surrounding PTSD, educate our service members and leaders, and make it ok to talk about getting help.”
This year CEO of Big Machine Records Scott Borchetta and award winning country music artist Justin Moore received the Humanitarian of the Year award for all of their help and work with AFF.
"Nobody is more important than our military," Moore told me in an interview at the event. "I'm just trying to do my part in all of this..it's my duty as an American."
Moore, whose two grandfathers served in the Navy and the Air Force, added, "They instilled in me how important the military is to all of us and the true sacrifices they make to keep us safe and free in the greatest country in the world."
During his acceptance speech, Moore said that although he was extremely gratefully for the award, he felt "a little uncomfortable being honored at an event where there are decorated war heroes present. I feel that my contributions are much less significant than theirs … they are the true American heroes."
Borchetta, a true product of the American dream (he discovered Taylor Swift back in 2004), echoed Moore's sentiments and said the country music industry never forgets that our troops are still overseas fighting and coming home with severe injuries.
"Especially in country music there is this daily awareness in how it is we are the way we are and how free we are...We don't take it for granted," Borchetta said in an interview at the event. "I was not able to serve in the military so I look at this as a way to give back and serve the military."
"Our troops have a really difficult situation when they come home and they need extraordinary attention," Borchetta said. "I don't think we're closing the deal."
The event was also attended by NASCAR champion Kurt Busch, Chef Anne Burrell, comedian Ron White and was emceed by Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade.