Sean Astin, who you may know from playing the hobbit Samwise Gamgee in a small trio of 2000s-era films known as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was recently named as a Civilian Aide Emeritus to the Secretary of the Army, the service announced on Dec. 13. 

Astin previously served as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army from 1995 to 2005, representing the state of California.

“For 27 years I’ve been proud to celebrate the men and women of the United States Army,” Astin said in an Army press release. “To receive the honor of becoming a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Emeritus fills me with a renewed sense of mission. In particular, in 2023 I hope to support the recruiting command with creativity and purpose as the nation looks to grow the next generation of leaders. People need to know they have what it takes to serve in the Army, and I want to help them understand what’s possible.”

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The role of civilian aides is generally to advise and support Army leadership and promote good relations between the Army and the communities they represent in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. That can include speaking at public events, helping with recruiting efforts, or working with the Soldier For Life Transition Program. Just about anyone can be nominated for the job as long as they have “an interest in the Army, a high degree of business and civic leadership, and an ability to influence the public.”

The program was started in 1922 by then Secretary of War John Weeks. Most of the time, these aides are retired officers or prominent businessmen. In Astin’s case, though, he is known for his work on the big screen.

While Astin first held the position from 1995 to 2005, ‘emeritus’ is essentially a lifetime designation. And while they don’t draw a salary, for protocol purposes civilian aides are given 3-star status, which is quite the promotion for Frodo Baggins’ assistant. 

“I am pleased to bestow the honorary title of CASA emeritus to Sean Astin in recognition of his many selfless years of service to the Army,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in a press release. “Sean previously served as a CASA for California from 1995-2005, and he continues to advocate for our Soldiers today. This honorary title recognizes his contributions and symbolizes our pledge to continue to work together to help tell our great Army story! We look forward to continue working with Sean.”

Astin has over 160 acting credits over a four-decade career as an actor, producer, and director, and in addition to his role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is most well known for his appearances as Mikey in The Goonies, Rudy in Rudy, and, more recently, Netflix’s Stranger Things.

In 2017, he wrote on Facebook of his time as a civilian aide that he “attended services of many kinds and visited with wounded warriors at Walter Reed and other places.”

“On a lighter note, I have a collection of over 50 so-called “Challenge Coins” put in my hands by many officers, of many ranks, as well as civilian leaders and others from across the United States Armed Forces commands and posts,” he wrote. “I’ve visited with many soldiers and their families, in good times and in bad.”

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