Tom Hanks: ‘Military Caregivers Are Hidden Heroes And They Need Your Support’

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Actor Tom Hanks speaks at the launch of 'Hidden Heroes' campaign, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016.
Associated Press photo by Andrew Harnik

On. Sept. 27, Tom Hanks and former Sen. Elizabeth Dole officially announced the launch of Hidden Heroes, a national campaign to raise awareness and garner support for the nation’s 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers.


At the event, Hanks addressed the crowded auditorium at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and posed a simple question:

“What part are you going to play in this movement?” asked Hanks, the national chair of Hidden Heroes. “I trust that the stories of honor and sacrifice we will now share and those you will learn about in the weeks and months ahead will bring you to your answer.”

Hanks, along with guest speakers, journalist and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert McDonald, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and others weighed in on the critical challenges facing military caregivers, and the importance of supporting them.

Related: According To Actor Gary Sinise, ‘We Can Never Do Enough For Our Veterans’ »

“And by military caregivers, we’re not talking about health care professionals, we’re not talking about educated experts, we’re talking about wives, and family members, and girlfriends, and kids, and parents,” explained Hanks. “Those are the military caregivers. The people giving care to their military loved ones.”

Hidden Heroes was launched by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, an organization founded by Dole in 2012. It seeks to strengthen and empower military caregivers and their families through research, raising awareness, and policy change.

“Bringing our country's hidden heroes, and that’s what they are, heroes who are hidden out of sight, bringing them out of the shadows to honor their service is a companion piece, I think, to welcoming home those who have served,” said Hanks.

According to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s findings, the challenges facing military caregivers include: depression, isolation, unemployment, and debt due to a severe lack of awareness and support. These strains have been exacerbated by the constant state of war since Sept. 11, 2001, with many younger caregivers facing daily challenges that last years, if not a lifetime.

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.

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Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.

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The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

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