Big celebrities draw big media attention. The celebrity-related stories that get the most attention are typically ones about their hook ups, break ups, and mess ups. But there are plenty of stories that don’t get the attention they deserve, such as when celebrities give back to our troops.
There are many celebrities from the worlds of Hollywood and music who take the time and make the effort to support America’s military. Some visit or perform for troops in combat zones through the USO while others help wounded warriors. Here are 10 patriotic stars who have shared their talents, influence, and gratitude with United States servicemembers.
10 patriotic stars who have shared their talents, influence, and gratitude with US service members
10 Celebrities Who Support the U.S. Military
- Jon Stewart – Even though as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Jon Stewart frequently criticizes and takes comedic shots at America’s politicians and involvement in global events, he is a strong supporter of the U.S. military. Stewart and his staff started an internship program at The Daily Show that was designed to help veterans break into the television business. The program runs for 5-weeks and offers the interns experience, a weekly evening class, and a career fair at the end that has resulted in several veterans finding jobs in the television industry.Since Jon Stewart will be leaving The Daily Show later this year, he is encouraging other television shows to start their own programs. In a New York Times article he said he wants others to “steal” his internship idea saying, “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.” In addition to the internship program, Stewart has also done a comedy tour of bases in Afghanistan and has visited wounded warriors in hospitals.
- Gary Sinise – Gary Sinise, known for his roles in CSI: NY, Forest Gump, Truman, and many other film and television works has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award. But perhaps his most meaningful accomplishments have been his work with the military. For over thirty years, Sinise has advocated for U.S. military members. His band, Lt. Dan Band, performs approximately 50 shows a year for military bases and charities and fundraisers supporting troops, wounded warriors, Gold Star families and veterans. He has been on more than five dozen USO tours. He is a spokesperson for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation and Disabled American Veterans.
In 2011 he established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Among the many programs run by the foundation are:Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (R.I.S.E.) which helps wounded heroes and their families by providing them resources, including custom homes.Relief + Resiliency Outreach, a program that helps servicemembers recovering from trauma, injury and loss.Serving Heroes, an initiative that shows gratitude to military members by serving them meals just before deployment.Invincible Spirit Festival, day-long carnival-like festivals that celebrate heroes as well as their families and caregivers.
- Carrie Underwood – Award-winning country music superstar Carrie Underwood has performed for United States servicemembers around the world. She has toured with the USO in Iraq and Kuwait, played at military bases and at the special Concert for Valor that took place on Veterans Day last year.Many of Underwood’s fans have been moved by her song “See You Again,” which some people interpret as being about moving on after a loved one’s death. The song meant a lot to one military family who had tickets to one of her concerts, but tragically the deployed father died before the show. Underwood heard the family’s story and met personally with the man’s wife and daughter. She said that after hearing their story and so many others like it, she can “never sing that song the same way again.” Here is a video of Carrie Underwood singing “See You Again” at The Concert for Valor.Underwood also performed during ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops where she debuted “Keep Us Safe,” a song she co-wrote as a way to thank the troops for their service.
- Bradley Cooper – Oscar-nominated actor Bradley Cooper portrayed late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the biographical war drama film, “American Sniper.” In a PEOPLE Magazine article, Cooper called his role “life-changing” and through his work on the film learned about the struggles of military families. While promoting the movie, Cooper teamed up with Chris Kyle’s widow Taya to host screenings of the film at veterans’ hospitals. Cooper was also invited to speak at The National Geographic Society as part of the panel for Got Your 6, a group dedicated to portraying veterans accurately in entertainment.
- Mark Wahlberg – Actor Mark Wahlberg was honored in May 2015 at the 10th annual Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Courage Awards & Benefit Dinner. He was awarded the James Gandolfini Award which honors the late actor’s outstanding character in service to warriors and their families. Wahlberg was recognized for supporting the WWP through his participation in TV commercials advocating awareness for the WWP and the challenges wounded warriors face. Wahlberg was also a vocal supporter of veterans’ issues during his time promoting the movie “Lone Survivor” where he portrayed a Navy SEAL.
- Kellie Pickler – Country music star and American Idol top six finalist Kellie Pickler was the first-ever recipient of the Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award. Even though she is still only in her twenties, Pickler has been a long-time supporter of the military. She has been on eight USO tours and frequently participates in USO and Wounded Warrior Project events. She has entertained troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan and sent Valentine’s Day care packages to female servicemembers. The award, which was formerly called the Operation Troop Aid Patriot Award, honors the late sniper and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Despite all that she has done for America’s troops, Pickler remains humbled by the award saying in Rolling Stone Country, “I didn’t get in line to work with the USO and the Wounded Warrior Foundation and all the other organizations to be patted on the back for it…It’s about all of our servicemen and women and their families and the sacrifices they’ve made.”
- KISS and Def Leppard – These two legendary rock groups teamed up and created the “Heroes Tour.” A dollar from each ticket sold during the three month summer 2014 tour was split between several charitable military organizations such as the USO and Hire a Hero. As part of the tour, they also hired two military veterans as roadies as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Capital One’s Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign. In this video, KISS talks about the tour.
- Wayne Newton – Singer and Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton has been involved with the USO almost his entire life and is now the Celebrity Chairman of the USO. He regularly performs for troops and has taken many USO tours overseas, and as Chairman he encourages other celebrities to do the same. Newton has received many awards for his efforts including “The USO Spirit of Home Award,” The Secretary of the Navy Public Service Award,” The Air Force Scroll of Appreciation,” “The AMVET’s Silver Helmet Award in the Americanism Category,” and numerous others. He also was named an “Honorary Green Beret” at a Fort Bragg event in 1999.
- Kathy Griffin – Comedian and Emmy award winner Kathy Griffin is the daughter of a World War II veteran and a longtime supporter of the United States military. She has been on USO tours and in 2010 hosted VH1 Divas Salute the Troops from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, CA. Griffin also offers veterans free backstage tickets to her shows. In 2013 she was honored for her support of veterans at the 5th Annual Heroes Celebration.
- Trace Adkins – Country music singer Trace Adkins grew up in a patriotic family and in a Nashville.com article, said that patriotism was “simply a given.” Although he never served in the military himself, he gives back to the military community by visiting wounded warriors at hospitals. He also meets privately with the families of fallen military before shows and has been on 10 USO tours. Adkins has participated in many concerts and events that support servicemembers and veterans including the Cause for Applause: Salute the Troops concert at the Grand Ole Opry on May 19. He recently made a surprise visit to a library to thank local Girl Scouts who sent care packages to troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He has also honored the military through his music with songs such as “’Til the Last Shots Fired” and “Arlington.”