Back in May, the USO introduced you to Sgt. Mark Foster, his wife, Jodi, and their daughter, Kayla. Emotional footage of the military family’s stirring November 2010 reunion on an NFL football field was included in The Doobie Brothers music video “Far From Home,” which premiered on USO.org.
As The Doobie Brothers play a special USO concert in Washington, D.C., to mark the closing of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Jodi Foster wants you to know that the legendary rock band isn’t just putting on an act when it comes to caring about military families.
“They’re not stars, they’re regular people,” Foster said. “I’m so thankful for them.”
After being awarded the grand prize in the band’s Far From Home Project contest, which asked military families to submit emotional videos of their reunions, the Fosters, who live on the Kentucky-Tennessee border near Fort Campbell, were given an all-expense paid trip to see The Doobie Brothers perform in San Diego on June 21.
“An hour before the concert, we got to visit with the Doobie Brothers backstage,” Foster said. “Pat Simmons, who is my favorite band member, stood there and talked to my daughter like he knew her for years.”
In addition to their 12-year-old girl, Sgt. Foster and his wife brought Jodi’s parents out to San Diego, a city the family had never visited. Their sixth free ticket was given to a cousin they hadn’t seen in six years, as moving around from base-to-base and deploying overseas has made family vacations a rare occurrence for the Fosters.
“The whole thing about the contest was bringing family back together,” the Army wife said. “If it hadn’t been for the Doobies putting on this contest, we wouldn’t have been able to see our cousin.”
When The Doobie Brothers played “Far From Home” at the San Diego County Fair, the Fosters became celebrities when fellow audience members recognized them in the video playing behind the band.
“It was fantastic and unbelievable,” Foster said.
In October, the Fosters will move to Fort Hood in Texas. As they say goodbye to family and friends and prepare for another chapter of a long, stressful odyssey that has included five combat deployments, the family’s spirits have been lifted by the Doobie Brothers.
“It’s bittersweet leaving here, but we’re ready to move on to different things,” Foster said. “I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to take a vacation to someplace we’ve never been before, see some national icons, and see family we hadn’t seen in a while.” — Tom Sileo