NEW YORK – In what may seem like an unlikely alliance, hard rock band Drowning Pool, non-profit organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and 15 year-old YouTube video producer Lizzie Palmer are teaming up to encourage young people to support expanded health care for veterans returning from Iraq & Afghanistan. They are launching a campaign called ‘This Is For the Soldiers’ and asking Americans to support legislation currently before congress which addresses the urgent need to get better mental health care for veterans. The campaign includes a website (www.thisisforthesoldiers.org) which hosts a petition urging congress to support the Lane Evans Mental Health Care Reform bill along with a powerful music video created by Palmer.
While ‘This Is For the Soldiers’ officially kicks off the week of July 4th, supporting the troops is nothing new for anyone involved. Rockers Drowning Pool toured with the USO and performed for troops in Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea in 2005 and 2006. “We have had the opportunity to meet the troops overseas, come back to the states and get invited to different bases in difference cities. We have spent countless time with soldiers who do what they do without question and you can’t help being touched by that,” said Drowning Pool lead singer Ryan McCombs. The campaign’s title, ‘This Is For the Soldiers,’ comes from a line in the Drowning Pool song, “Soldiers,” that the band wrote based on their experience. Bassist Stevie Benton remarks, “After returning from Baghdad, our priority was writing a song about our troops, for our troops. I hope they will accept the song as a show of our respect and thanks for all they do for our country.” Drowning Pool named their upcoming concert tour after the campaign and plans to donate fifty cents from each ticket sale to IAVA and fifty cents to the USO. IAVA, founded by Iraq veteran Paul Rieckhoff, has been advocating since 2004 on behalf of returning servicemembers. It is the first and largest group representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Ohio teen Lizzie Palmer has taken action before. “Remember Me,” her previous music video honoring U.S. troops, has gotten over 12 million hits on YouTube. Her latest video, for Drowning Pool’s “Soldiers”, will be released on July 4th.
Now it’s time to get other people involved.
“Whether you’re for the war or against it, everyone has an obligation to support the men and women serving our country,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Executive Director. “Our alliance with Drowning Pool and Lizzie provides a great platform for raising awareness among young people about the challenges veterans face. At least one in three Iraq veterans will cope with a serious mental health issue, like depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s crucial that we put systems in place now to help them.” The trio is encouraging supporters to send a petition to Representative Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asking him to take action on the Lane Evans Bill, H.R. 1354, currently pending in the House. This bipartisan legislation would require mandatory counseling for combat veterans and ensure a better transition for troops leaving the military. A letter written by the band has already been sent to members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs and was recently read before the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. “This Is For the Soldiers’ gives young people a chance to make a real difference in the lives of our country’s newest generation of veterans,” said Rieckhoff.