The Veterans' Supporters
Amy Gravitt & John Mayer
There are 346,000 veterans in L.A. County alone, and those who need support -- and the many who simply want more respect -- are getting an unprecedented new level of focus from the entertainment industry. In May, a coalition of studios, agencies, guilds and networks unveiled Got Your Six (a military term for "I've got your back and you've got mine"), an ambitious program that aims to change perceptions of veterans and increase job opportunities (expect to see a Hollywood hiring fair Aug. 28 in Century City). The effort has pulled in veterans including Universal president and former Marine Ron Meyer, WME agent and Navy man Brandt Joel and Gravitt, a comedy vp at HBO who served in a noncombat role for three years aboard the U.S.S. Constellation in the late '90s. She has leveraged her HBO relationships with producers and talent to help create PSAs, including one with Rob Riggle for Funny or Die, that promote an image of veterans as leaders. Gravitt got involved because "there's a tendency to think of veterans solely as charity cases. Our goal is to have them be seen as these assets who have an amazing amount of experience," she says. Mayer, working on his own, has made helping veterans his primary philanthropic mission since visiting North Carolina's Camp Lejeune four years ago. "There was this guy who was introduced to me as this no-nonsense guy in the field who was so physically and cerebrally injured. That's when it really hits you," he says. Mayer offers free concert tickets to veterans, active personnel and military families, visits medical centers and has created a fund benefiting NCIRE, a health research institute that is working to reintegrate veterans into civilian life. Says Mayer, "There are a ton of things veterans learn to do, especially with the pressure of battle, and then they come back and there's no way to pick up where they left off."
Photographed by Joe Pugliese on July 22 at Beck Media & Marketing in Santa Monica