He’s played a soldier on-screen and now Tom Hanks is working to help our veterans off-screen. The actor appeared on the TODAY show Tuesday to announce a new campaign to help provide support to over 5.5 million estimated military caregivers nationwide.
“I’ve covered some of this turf in my fake life as an actor who puts on other people’s clothes, and the emotional impact of a number of those jobs, it’s never left,” Hanks said. “It comes down to a chance to serve and I think help out in a very pragmatic and understandable way.”
The actor, 60, is the campaign chair for the new Hidden Heroes campaign, which will help guide military families to caregiver support programs, an online support community, education and advice on financial and legal matters.
The campaign was founded by former senator Elizabeth Dole after her own experience with caregiving. Dole’s husband, WWII veteran and former presidential candidate Bob Dole, spent nearly a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center a few years back ― an experience that opened her eyes to the unique plight of caregivers.
Dole participated in the conversation remotely from Washington, D.C., surrounded by 50 military caregivers.
Hanks was joined in-studio by Jessica Allen. Allen is now a full-time caregiver to her husband, who was seriously injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2011, losing both legs just above the knee.
“As an infantry wife, you prepare for one of two options ― they come home safe, or they come home in a box,’’ Allen said. “The Army does not prepare you for the in-between, and the in-between never ends.”
Indeed, many people are thrust into the role without any preparation and are often faced with difficult challenges like financial strains and career concerns.
Hanks stressed the importance of acknowledging the military caregivers in our local communities and offering support.
“It will be astounding how a tiny bit of help can alter the lives of those people,” he said.
Let’s support our veterans by supporting those who love and care for them most.