New ad campaign targets veterans
Updated 7:29 p.m. ET
The Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign Monday designed to encourage more military veterans to enroll for government benefits and services.
Only about 8 million of the nation's 23 million veterans use VA benefits and health-care services, and the department hopes new television and Internet advertisements and other outreach efforts will convince more vets to sign up.
The ad campaign begins Monday with a TV spot airing in the six media markets where most service members returning from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom will first arrive: El Paso, Tex., Norfolk, Raleigh, Savannah, Ga., Seattle and Watertown, N.Y.
"Welcome home! You've served your country," Marine Staff Sgt. Robert Kugler says in the ad. "Now that you've completed your service, you've got lots of opportunities for your future. But health comes first. Sign up for health care at your nearest VA."
Kugler is an aspiring actor who moved with his wife to California shortly after his brother, Mike Doheny, a private security contractor and former Marine, was killed in Iraq. He's studying with the Groundlings Theater and has appeared in several TV ads.
The new ad takes a "big brother approach," reminding veterans of the importance of using the benefits available to them, Kugler said.
"I think there could be somewhat of a stigma as far as maybe thinking that maybe they wouldn't get the benefits or they don't want be portrayed as weak," he said.
The first wave of the multiyear ad campaign will cost the VA about $5 million, it said. A second ad will start airing before Thanksgiving, and the department also plans to buy time during national telecasts of the Country Music Awards and college bowl games. The first batch of ads are targeted at recent veterans, but future messages will focus on older veterans, the VA said.
This item has been updated and corrected since its original post.
Watch the ad above and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
| October 11, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments
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