Today at the 2012 annual shareholder’s meeting in Kansas City, MO, Disney CEO and President Robert Iger announced a new program designed to support America’s military called ‘Heroes Work Here.’ The ‘Heroes Work Here’ initiative intends to employee and train 1,000 United States military veterans at positions across The Walt Disney Company.
Beginning soon, the company will begin promoting the new campaign in unscripted advertisements that feature veterans employed by the company which Iger hopes will inspire other companies to do the same to support the military and their families. The campaign will air on Disney owned networks such as ABC, ESPN and other media platforms.
In addition to providing career opportunities for veterans, Disney will also invest in select non-profit organizations that provide training and other support services. Through the Disney VoluntEARS program, employees will also engage in service projects with veterans’ organizations in communities around the country. The public awareness campaign, featuring veterans currently employed in various businesses across The Walt Disney Company, will highlight their value, encourage companies to hire these highly skilled men and women, and direct them to the Joining Forces initiative for more information.
One of the advertisements, which was previewed to the shareholders, can be watch below:
“As a new generation of America’s military men and women transition into civilian life, we are increasing our commitment and support for these modern day heroes,” said Mr. Iger. “It’s a measure of our respect for how much they have sacrificed on our behalf, and our sincere gratitude for their extraordinary contributions to this country.”
He added, “The military values of honor, integrity, commitment, and courage, along with the skills and experience they’ve gained through their service, make veterans incredibly valuable employees for any company.”
Heroes Work Here includes recruitment efforts across all segments of The Walt Disney Company, including ESPN, the Disney-ABC Television Group, Disney Consumer Products, The Walt Disney Studios, and Disney Parks and Resorts. The company will host career fairs and participate in events designed to showcase opportunities for returning military personnel.
Pictured here are Cigna CEO David Cordani and Lance Corporal Matias Ferreira as they show the medals they won earlier today by completing the half marathon together at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, which is sponsored by Cigna.
Ferreira, 22, originally from Atlanta and now living in Rockville, Maryland, is a U.S. Marine who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. Cordani served as a running guide to Ferreira, who is a member of the Achilles International Freedom Team. Achilles is an organization that helps people with disabilities, including wounded U.S. Armed Forces veterans, compete in mainstream athletic events. Cigna sponsored several members of the Achilles team at today’s half marathon.
Photo courtesy of Business Wire
On Monday, the Disneyland Resort invited Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Poteat, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s S-6 communication platoon, and his family to “flip the switch” on more than 300,000 holiday lights blanketing “it’s a small world” Holiday, transforming the popular attraction into a visual wonderland and officially launching the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort. The ceremony, presented by the attraction’s sponsor, Sylvania, honored Poteat and his family for the contributions they have made to our country. Poteat, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1996, has completed three tours and recently returned from the latest, a seven-month deployment in the Middle East. He was joined by his three children, nephew, niece and wife, Clarice, an advisor to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s family readiness team, for a day of play at the Disneyland Resort followed by this special honor.
Photos by Paul Hiffmeyer, courtesy Disneyland Resort
Operation Uplift was founded in 1995 by a Disneyland Cast Member after reading a letter from a soldier during Operation Desert Storm explaining that troops didn’t receive much mail.
Since that time, Disney VoluntEARS around the country have sent more than 90,000 postcards of support, encouragement and thanks to servicemen and servicewomen serving domestically and overseas.
One of those VoluntEARS is Karalynn Rieff, a training analyst for Global Business Technology Strategy who co-chairs the Operation Uplift drive for her team at Walt Disney World Resort.
“This year I was pleased to carry more than 1,000 postcards to the post office,” Rieff said. “In the four years since our team has participated, we’ve sent postcards to service persons in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan and many other locations.”
Rieff said the most rewarding part of participating was the opportunity to share the magic of Disney with military men and women who are serving far from friends and family.
“It’s nice to know that a little postcard with Mickey saluting in front of the flag and a few words can bring some happiness to someone, even when you don’t know where – or who – they are,” she said.
Disney Channel will debut a series of interstitial messages featuring First Lady Michelle Obama and popular young Disney stars China Anne McClain (“A.N.T. Farm”), Adam Irigoyen (“Shake It Up”), Doug Brochu (“So Random!”) and Chris Brochu (“Lemonade Mouth”) talking about their personal experiences with family members serving in the Armed Forces. The messages, debuting on Veteran’s Day, Friday, November 11, are designed to recognize America’s military kids and are part of Disney’s ongoing support of the White House’s Joining Forces national initiative.
This week, as part of the initiative, First Lady Obama met with China Anne McClain and Doug and Chris Brochu at the White House regarding Joining Forces, their contribution to the effort and Disney’s legacy of support for military families.
Disney’s support of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative has included special Disney movie screenings at military bases across the country, a Joining Forces-themed episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ESPN programming dedicated to the military and veterans, and Disney Park’s special celebrations for military members and their families. The company also supports USO with ongoing programs such as Operation Disney Care Packages sent to USO centers worldwide.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden created Joining Forces to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure military families have the support they have earned. The initiative focuses on key priority areas – employment, education, and wellness while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of military families.
Disneyland Resort today hosted a swearing-in ceremony for 11 new Air Force Reserve recruits from March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley, California. The event was held at Condor Flats inside Disney California Adventure park, an area dedicated to the rich history of California aviation. The new recruits experienced Soarin’ Over California following their military oath, an attraction taking them on a breathtaking aerial tour over some of California’s most extraordinary landmarks.
Photo courtesy Disneyland Resort
Earlier today, July 14, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina to surprise a family with the door knock that can change lives. The paratrooper team from the U.S. Army and service men joined “EM: HE” host Ty Pennington and the gang to surprise the Marshall family at The Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House. Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy Veteran, is fighting to end homelessness among her fellow female veterans. Barbara became passionately committed to her cause when she noticed that so many of our troops were living on the streets after risking their lives to protect their fellow Americans. Instead of just complaining about the situation, this formidable, no-nonsense woman decided to take action and established The Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House, using her own money.
Jubilee House offers shelter, support and services such as mentoring and life coaching to homeless female veterans. Along with housing three women veterans and their children, the Jubilee House works with over 30 homeless women veterans seeking assistance each week. The House serves as an extended family for the women – as with many experiences while serving in the military, they form tight bonds with each other through their shared experience and mutual support. Unfortunately, Barbara can only do so much — Jubilee House needs additional space and resources to continue their work with the women. Barbara would like to live in the house so she can help the women in every aspect of their lives as they get back on their feet. She’d also like her son, who is developmentally delayed, to have a place in which he can thrive. Barbara’s life is dedicated to these women… they are her mission, her family, her passion. Her dream is to someday end homelessness among female veterans, while honoring these brave women who’ve sacrificed so much for our country.
The “EM:HE” design team has just seven days to build a brand new Jubilee House for the Marshalls and the homeless female veterans it supports on a daily basis, a new facility that can house multiple families and act as a resource center for the female veterans who walk through the doors each week. The Marshall family and Jubilee House residents have been whisked away on a dream vacation to Walt Disney World, while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team leader Ty Pennington, designers Paul DiMeo, Tracy Hutson, John Littlefield, Sabrina Soto and local builders Blue Ridge Log Cabins, as well as community volunteers, build the structure.
The build location is 120 Langdon Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301
An institution at the Disneyland Resort, the lowering of the U.S. flag takes place each evening in the Town Square of Disneyland. Unlike its sister ceremony at the Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, however, the ceremony rarely honors individuals who have performed service in the country’s military.
Yesterday evening, that rare and distinct honor went to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta who was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest service award possible to a member of the United States military, by President Barack Obama.
In 2007, then specialist Giunta was involved in a mission with his squad in Afghanistan when they were ambushed and immediately took on excessive enemy fire. Upon seeing his team leader falling, Giunta rushed to his team leader’s aid, offering him cover while administering first aid. Still in the line of fire, Giunta was struck twice, once in his body armor and once in his secondary weapon. Subsequently, when Giunta became aware that one of his team was unaccounted for, he spotted his fellow injured serviceman being carried away by two insurgents. Giunta immediately attacked the insurgents, killing one and injuring the other, who ran off. Giunta then spent the next half hour administering first aid to his fallen comrade until a MEDEVAC became available.
For his service, and for performing ‘conspicuously, by gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty,’ Giunta was award the military’s highest honor. Because of its very nature, the medal is most often awarded posthumously, making the occasion all that much more special. Giunta is the first living recipient of the award for conduct in any battle since the Vietnam War.
Giunta was joined and honored with fellow serviceman, Staff Sgt. Erick Gallardo, who served with Giunta in the same battle and received the Silver Star. They and their wives were first honored in a processional down Main Street, USA before arriving in front of the train station for the ceremony.
After being led in the pledge of allegiance by the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet, Giunta and Gallardo were commended by Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis and Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs who awarded the heroes with a saluting Mickey Mouse statuette to commemorate the event. In a brief speech, Giunta proudly accepted the honor on behalf of all those who served.
Following the traditional flag lowering ceremony, accompanied by the Disneyland Marching Band and Dapper Dans, Giunta was presented with the flag of the United States that had flown at Disneyland that day. The ceremony came to a close with the Dapper Dans leading the attended crowd in God Bless America.
The flag is currently being flown at half-mast at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts in honor of the victims of the recent Arizona shootings.
Below is our photo gallery from the event. All photos by Kelly Noble for Stitch Kingdom.
More than 300 U.S. military personnel in Iraq will take part in a Disney half-marathon in Baghdad during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA, which will feature more than 53,000 runners at Walt Disney World in suburban Orlando this weekend. Last year, the WDW Marathon and Half Marathon became the largest M/h combo all-time with 34,055 finishers.
The runDisney Heroes Race in Baghdad on Saturday will involve service men and women based at Victory Base Complex trekking 13.1 miles through the Iraqi desert while simultaneously more than 27,000 runners – a new race record – run the same distance during the Disney Half Marathon. Both races will be linked by satellite so runners and spectators at both events can view live video of each race. Runners in both races will receive official runDisney race bibs, shirts and finisher medals.
The companion race is just one of the many new twists to this year’s Disney Marathon Weekend. In addition, runners who finish the 26.2-mile Disney Marathon will receive complimentary entry into Walt Disney World the next day as part of Marathon Monday at Disney. Also, finishers will receive a new Mickey Mouse medal.
“The runDisney Heroes Race is our way of honoring the courageous men and women of our armed forces who put their lives on the line every day,” said Kathleen Duran, runDisney Sports Area Manager. “With the salute to the troops and new features like Marathon Monday and the new race medal, the Disney Marathon Weekend is unquestionably our signature event among the four runDisney events we stage each year.”
The American Legion is teaming up with the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes to stage the 6th annual Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute at Walt Disney World’s Swan Resort in Orlando, Fla. The Dec. 12-16 event will host more than 400 guests, including many veterans who were severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The five-day event promises to make the educational and motivational sessions better than ever for the attendees. They will be treated to a unique, all-expenses-paid program designed to encourage them to look to the future with hope and optimism. Other conference sponsors include General Motors, T-Mobile, Northrup Grumman and Humana Military.
The schedule includes some 40 hours of seminars, workshops and panel discussions devoted to enhancing personal relationships and providing information on benefits, services, insurance, healthcare, financial support and employment opportunities. Experts from government, the private sector and non-profit groups will be on hand to offer advice and guidance on resume writing, career counseling and other topics.
Such a “one-stop shopping” approach is what enticed The American Legion to become involved with the Road to Recovery event, said Peter Gaytan, the Legion’s executive director in Washington.
“The Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute is an excellent opportunity to showcase many resources available for these brave servicemen and women who have given so much for their country,” Gaytan said. “We want to impress upon the attendees that their sacrifices have not been forgotten, and to help them lead fulfilling, productive lives.”
American Legion national staff members will speak at the conference, and Legionnaires will provide follow-up services to veterans and families attending the event.
Roger Chapin, president of the Coalition, said “We are both honored and delighted that The American Legion has chosen to partner with us in presenting this important event. From past conferences, we know that veterans and their families have found their participation to be valuable in many ways. With the expertise the Legion is prepared to contribute, we expect that to be especially true this year.”
Besides the educational aspects of the conference, attendees will enjoy a number of other benefits, including family activities and special entertainment. Among those already scheduled to perform is the Lt. Dan Band, led by actor Gary Sinise, star of the CSI: New York television series and an Academy Award nominee for his role as Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump.
Throughout the conference, veterans will have plenty of time to share their experiences and understand that, as one recent attendee put it, “you’re not alone in going through this journey.”
For more information on the Road to Recovery conference, and criteria for being invited to attend, contact the Coalition at (914) 432-5400 or visit its website at www.saluteheroes.org.