Homefront Heroes Premieres December 21, 2010

Homefront Heroes, an original web series and online community aimed at documenting the recovery and bravery of America’s wounded warriors, their families, and those who support them, will premiere online at HomefrontHeroes.com at 7 p.m. on December 21, 2010.

Filmed around the country, each “webisode” of Homefront Heroes will tell a story of resiliency and inspiration as the viewer learns what an American wounded service members and their families goes through when they come home to battle a different war after being injured.

“Homefront Heroes tells the amazing stories of our wounded warriors, their families, and the people who are helping them recover to chase their dreams,” said Michael Allen, co-creator and producer of Homefront Heroes. “The goal of Homefront Heroes is to share as broadly as possible these extraordinary stories of hope as a wounded warrior takes his or her life back after being wounded in defense of our nation.”

Created by Michael Allen and Brad Keller, Homefront Heroes is supported by the USO, Military.com, and American Airlines, the official airline of the USO. The first season of Homefront Heroes will include webisodes about the USO’s Operation Enduring Care, UCLA’s Operation Mend, and Hope for the Warriors – organizations dedicated to providing assistance to wounded warriors and their families.

“It is the USO’s hope that all Americans join together to support our wounded warriors and their families to create a network of care that extends from the point of injury on the battlefield to communities here at home,” said Sloan Gibson, president of the USO. “Homefront Heroes shows each of us how we can do more to help our troops and their families.”

“American Airlines has a long-standing commitment to support our veterans, troops, and their families,” said Art Torno, vice president, New York for American. “It is a privilege to present Homefront Heroes, which gives a voice to the wounded warrior community as well as those who help them rebuild their lives.”

Homefront Heroes’ first episode “I Don’t Have One Regret,” airs December 21, and highlights retired Army Sergeant Rick Yarosh, who was seriously burned in an IED explosion while serving in Iraq.

“The entire UCLA medical community is honored to be able to help these courageous young men and women. For a plastic surgeon to have this extraordinary opportunity to give back to those who have given so much, is truly a privilege,” said Dr. Timothy A. Miller, surgical director of UCLA’s Operation Mend Program, featured in webisode 2 of Homefront Heroes, entitled “Reconstructing Lives Though Reconstructive Surgery.”

“This is a fantastic project that not only showcases the enormous sacrifices and heroism of our wounded warriors, but also that of their families,” said T McCreary, president of Military.com. “Military.com is proud and honored to be able to work with Homefront Heroes, American Airlines, and the USO on such a worthy endeavor.”

To watch the trailer for Homefront Heroes or to submit a story of support, please visit www.HomefrontHeroes.com.

Stockings in Southwest Asia

By John Hanson, Senior Vice President, USO

Every year, the USO’s direct mail campaign includes an appeal that carries the message, “There are no stockings in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Well, of course, there probably ARE stockings there. I can report to you that there are inflatable Santa-in-a-Sleigh yard decorations there. Today’s troops do what American troops at war have always done. They do their best to make their situations as home like as possible.

But, they aren’t home.

These brave men and women are anywhere BUT home, working over every holiday to keep us safe and to secure a nation half way around the world. And, Americans send them things to let them know we honor that sacrifice. They’ll get cakes and candy and the kinds of things we put in stockings, even if the troops don’t have a stocking handy.

Several years ago, I was on a USO holiday tour hosted by the Sergeant Major of the Army. The tour lasted ten days or so, and we were going to arrive home on Christmas Eve. The tour was exhausting. We stopped at Balad, Iraq, and when we walked backstage during the sound check, we noticed that there were small stockings on the wall. Nurses at the military hospital there bought the stockings, wrote the performers’ names in glue and glitter and put a single candy cane in each one. I will never forget the looks on the faces of each person, nor will I forget the glee and wonder each expressed at the thought of someone taking the time to say, “Merry Christmas” in that way. Stockings have power.