National Constitution Center Opens “Art of the American Soldier”

"Marines Call It That 2,000 Yard Stare" by Tom Lea, oil on canvas, 1944, Peleliu Island

It’s one of the greatest assemblages of art in America, yet most of us have never seen it.  It’s the U.S. Army’s art collection, and it resides mostly in storage, comprised of thousands of pieces of art.  The Army’s art program officially began in World War I, when eight artists were commissioned as captains in the Corps of Engineers, then sent to Europe to record the activities of the American Expeditionary Forces there.

Opportunities to view the art, however, occur at museums around the country; The National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir won’t be completed until 2015.  Luckily, Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center is running “Art of the American Soldier” now through Jan. 11.  The exhibit contains 250 works from the collection and is curated thematically.

“It’s an amazing collection, and not a lot of people know it’s here,” Sarah Forgey, its curator, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The current exhibition is “a good opportunity to see a wide variety of what we have. This many pieces haven’t been seen in one place in quite some time.”  The museum was inspired to mount this exhibit in part by a story that aired last year on CBS Sunday Morning.
Even if you can’t make it to the City of Brotherly Love, you can enjoy many of the pieces via an online, interactive gallery.  Military artists can even submit their own work for inclusion online!  We hope that some of you get to experience this amazing Army art opportunity and that you’ll let us know what you think.  Be sure to check out the preview video below, too…

Kid Rock Doesn’t Want Praise For Touring With USO – Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV

Kid Rock signs autographs after the USO Holiday Tour stop in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Dec. 21, 2007. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley - Released)

“It’s one of those things I used to do and try not to talk too much about, because it’s not something you go to promote something at, or do anything for any self-gain at all,” USO tour veteran Kid Rock recently told MTV News. “But what I’ve learned is that maybe if I do talk about it, the more I can encourage some other people in my position to go, because they’re really happy over there just to get a slice of America at any level, but to have someone in the entertainment industry who’s had a little slice of success is really a big boost for those guys.

“I would encourage anybody that hasn’t gone to really think about it,” he continued. “It’s really a rewarding, life-changing experience.”

Kid Rock talks more about that “rewarding, life-changing” experience of performing for troops with the USO in Iraq and Afghanistan in his recent MTV interview…Check it out!

Rehabbing with the Troops: Wounded Warrior Arena Wraps Season 1!

Season 1 of the 10-week rehabilitation program culminated with the final workout and a trip to the New Orleans Saints’ preseason home opening game at the Louisiana Superdome, where the warriors were honored with an on-field tribute from the Saints prior to the game and had the opportunity to meet Saints players after watching the pre-game warm-up. (Photo courtesy RWTT Facebook page)

A few months back we introduced to you Rehabbing with the Troops: Wounded Warrior Arena, a groundbreaking program from our friends at Pro vs. GI Joe.  The goal of RWTT is to create a virtual community, called the Wounded Warrior Arena, in which warriors find common ground and build mutual understanding as they improve both their physical rehabilitation and emotional well-being.

But if you think this is just another day in front of the TV, think again! Professional athletes serve as “trainers” for intense workouts on Wii; Season 1′s pro trainers are the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.  This year’s first Season ran from June 10th to August 21st, with each warrior being required to complete a minimum of two workouts per week for 10 weeks.  You catch watch a video below that show a recap of the last workout!

Twenty-one wounded warriors—including Army veteran J. R. Martinez, actor in Emmy-Award-winning drama “All My Children”—gathered at the New Orleans Marriott on August 21 to perform the last workout of Rehabbing with the Troops’ inaugural season. (Photo courtesy of RWTT Facebook page)

“I get up every day, and Rehabbing with the Troops is my job,” said wounded warrior and Air Force veteran Wayne “Tom” Marcum, in a tearful description of how the program has affected his life. “It’s given me a chance to rebuild my life, learn how to communicate again with my wife and sons, and become friends with warriors who face the same struggles that I do.”

Even though Season 1 has ended, that community of support will continue for many of the participants, including Marcum, who will return as a coach for Season Two, which launches on Veteran’s Day.  This time the warriors will match up with the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins.  We’ll follow along and bring you the exciting conclusion at the Armed Forces Bowl on December 30!

Pro vs. GI Joe created Rehabbing with the Troops in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project and the USO; RWTT is sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance.

Marine Embodies Esprit de Corps

Sgt. Kevin A. Aguilar, dispatching and licensing noncommissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, conducts Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training with his Marines on a regular basis. (Photo by Cpl. Juan D. Alfonso)

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month and in recognition of this we’ll be honoring those who serve, along with highlighting many of our great celebrity entertainers.

Several branches are also celebrating: the Army has created the website Hispanic Americans in the U.S. Army;  the Navy’s supports Hispanic Officer candidates through the Association of Naval Services OfficersMilitary Times chose LCDR Richard A. Angelet as 2010 Coast Guardsmen of the Year in recognition of his work on behalf of Hispanics service members; and the Air Force recently selected two winners of the 2010 National LATINA Symposium Distinguished Service Award.

Today we bring you a story from the Marines, as first reported by On the Frontlines: Every year, certain periods of time are set aside for the each branch of the armed services to honor the rich blend of cultures serving among their ranks. Cultural observances highlight the accomplishments of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen—past and present—who make a difference in the lives of those around them.

At Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, Marine Sergeant Kevin A. Aguilar – a Marine of Hispanic descent – is one of those service members currently making a difference in the lives of his troops. Read Aguilar’s story, “What a Sergeant of Marines Should Be,” on the official site of the U.S. Marines.

Raheem DeVaughn Brings the Neo-Soul on his USO Tour in Europe

Celebrated R&B vocalist Raheem DeVaughn performs a USO show for troops and their families at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, September 19, 2010. Fresh off the Budweiser Superfest Tour with singers Anthony Hamilton, Jaheim, Hal Linton and Kem, DeVaughn is on a mission to bring a touch of home to service members and their families stationed in Europe. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

“Whether you have served in America’s armed forces personally, or have a friend or family member who has served – virtually everyone has been touched by the sacrifice of today’s troops, including myself.  I am honored to have participated in an entertainment tour to Europe as well as to have been part of the USO’s longest-running and most celebrated tradition.  Joining the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. in boosting troop morale and bringing military families a touch of home has truly been a life-changing experience.” -Raheem DeVaughn

Maryland-based R&B vocalist Raheem DeVaughn recently wrapped up his first USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour to Europe.  DeVaughn brought neo-soul to hundreds of U.S. troops and their families stationed in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

During his 8-day, 4-country tour, DeVaughn visited five military bases, including Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Joint Force Command Brunssum, Spangdahlem Air Base and Ramstein Air Base.  The star also signed autographs, posed for photos and shared personal stories of life behind the mic, in addition to visiting hospital staff and wounded warriors.

DeVaughn is one of modern soul’s most beloved artists.  Known for such hits as “Guess Who Knows You More,” “Woman” and “Customer,” he has earned two Grammy nods and two BET J Awards for “Best Male R&B Artist” and “Album of the Year.”

We hope he enjoyed his first tour as much as the Troops and their families in the audience did!  Check out more pictures below…

R&B singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn poses for a photo with a group of airmen stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, September 19, 2010. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn flashes a smile as he performs a USO concert for troops and their families stationed at Joint Forces Command Headquarters in Brunssum, The Netherlands, September 18, 2010. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn smiles for a photo with Army 2nd Lieutenant Aminat Lawal from Plano, Texas, during a USO visit to Landstuhl Regional Army Medical Center, September 20, 2010. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

A painting by Demont Pinder celebrates a USO tour performance by R&B singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn at Royal Air Force Base Menwith Hill in England, September 15, 2010. Pinder created the artwork while DeVaughn performed onstage, then digitally projected the image on to a big screen for the audience to enjoy. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)