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Hanks’ lapel pin explained: Hollywood unveils ‘Got Your Six’ campaign

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The full story behind Tom Hanks’ quixotic Oscar night accessory -- a simple numeral 6 pin on his left lapel -- was finally revealed today to be an ambitious entertainment industry program aimed at helping U.S. military veterans.

The ‘Got Your Six’ initiative, which takes its name from military jargon meaning ‘I’ve got your back, and you’ve got mine’ (the six o'clock position designates the back of a military formation), launched at this morning at a star-studded news conference at the Wilshire Boulevard SAG-AFTRA offices in Los Angeles with the stated goal of creating ‘a wide array of opportunities for veterans to successfully convert their leadership and operational training into positive civilian roles in communities nationwide.’

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Organizers of the ‘Got Your Six’ (abbreviated to the social media friendly ‘GY6’) campaign have laid out six ‘pillars of reintegration’ (jobs, education, health, housing, family and leadership), each paired with an existing nonprofit organization and a measurable goal (the jobs pillar, for example, involves the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program embarking on a campaign to get businesses to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by December 2014).

The impressive list of industry partners includes the major Hollywood unions (SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America West, Directors Guild of America), talent agencies (CAA, WME, ICM), networks (ABC,

CBS, NBCUniversal) and studios (Paramount, Viacom, Warner Bros.), which will certainly help when it comes to the other major part of the initiative -- raising awareness of the issues facing veterans and their families. A comprehensive list of partners can be found online by clicking here. Hanks’ lapel-pin teaser was just a very tiny taste of what the entertainment industry has done -- and plans to do -- to advance the cause. Today’s launch, for example, was accompanied by a celebrity PSA featuring Hanks, Pharrell Williams, Bradley Cooper, Brian Williams, Milla Jovovich, Alec Baldwin, Michael Douglas, Sarah Jessica Parker and Judith Light, and the website Funny or Die (another of the myriad partners) has posted an online video that features Rob Riggle back-slapping the initiative into popular culture with the help of celebrities such as Ron Perlman and Taran Killam.

According to today’s announcement, future plans include ‘script integrations for TV and film projects, original digital content and other creative initiatives,’ as well as special events and GY6 logo merchandise, which currently includes just a handful of items -- the aforementioned lapel pins and paracord bracelets appropriately priced at $6 each, and logo-emblazoned men’s and women’s T-shirts for $36 each.

Who knows, as the campaign continues, perhaps we’ll see fashion and jewelry designers join the effort by ramping up the style quotient of those merchandise offerings. It would be a symbolically appropriate in an industry that seems to completely reinvent itself about every six months.

More detailed information about the ‘Got Your Six’ campaign, its genesis, goals, partners and volunteer opportunities, can be found at the organization’s website at www.gotyour6.org

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-- Adam Tschorn


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