Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Gravante (right) speaks with National Commander Dan Dellinger and his wife, Margaret, at the 2014 GI Film Festival, May 24. (Photo by Noel St. John)

Commander attends GI Film Festival

In an annual gathering of Hollywood celebrities, national politicians and film enthusiasts, it is clear who the real stars are that attend the GI Film Festival (GIFF) – the men and women who have worn the military uniform.

Started in 2006 by Brandon Millett and his wife, U.S. Army veteran Laura Law-Millett, GIFF has become a “Sundance for the troops,” as Brandon likes to call it. Fifty-six films, from various genres, covering the Civil War through the Global War on Terrorism, were screened during the week-long festival last month in Fairfax, Va. The purpose of the annual film festival is to raise public awareness about the contributions of U.S. military veterans from all wars.

“The American Legion has been a part of the GI Film Festival since year one,” Brandon told an audience assembled for a screening of “When the Game Stands Tall” on May 22. “In addition to their sponsorship, in 2010 The American Legion officially recognized the GI Film Festival with the National Commander’s Public Relations Award. This was a huge honor for the festival. It was previously given to folks like Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw and Jack Valenti – and it was one of the highlights of our lives to be able to accept that honor on behalf of the festival.”

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger attended the screening of the sports drama film “When the Game Stands Tall,” which stars Jim Caviezel and is inspired by a true story about football coach Bob Ladouceur. The film features an emotional scene where high school football players are motivated by wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

“It’s a great honor to be there this evening with you all,” Dellinger told festival attendees, which included dozens of active-duty servicemembers stationed in and around Washington, D.C. “I just want to thank Laura and Brandon for what they started and what they have done for our servicemen and women. Since we are the nation’s largest veterans organization with 2.4 million members, that’s our charge, to make sure we take care of our servicemen and women and our veterans. “

The National Executive Committee of The American Legion recognized the GI Film Festival during Spring Meetings in May 2010 by passing Resolution 13, which resolves that the GI Film Festival “is the preeminent venue for military film screenings and that The American Legion salutes the GI Film Festival.”