Enduring Wounds of War
The 2011 National Memorial Day Concert featured a special thank you to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan by General Colin Powell, who honored returning service members for their service and sacrifice, commitment to the nation and selfless dedication. American Idol winner Kris Allen, who has performed regularly for troops overseas and supported military families in need, dedicated his performance to our brave men and women in uniform.
As we remembered each one of the almost 6,000 American service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and honored the 43,000 wounded warriors, including many who will never be able to go back to their lives as they knew them. We heard the stories of three military families who face the enduring wounds of war with courage and grace.
Jonathan Pruden's Story
Retired Army Captain Jonathan Pruden was one of the first improvised explosive device (IED) victims of the Iraq War in July of 2003. Over the next two years, he had 20 surgeries at seven different hospitals and today faces the prospect of additional amputation. Now, he has dedicated himself to working with other wounded servicemen and women through the Wounded Warrior Project. Acclaimed actor Jason Ritter, star of The Event, shared Jonathan’s story.
Learn more about our wounded service men and women and what you can do to become an ally in their recovery.
Michael Martin's Story
Retired Army Specialist Michael Martin was driving in a truck convoy in Iraq when he hit an IED. The bomb blast threw the windshield into his face and flipped his vehicle repeatedly. He was diagnosed with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Yet he cares for his kids and has become a dedicated househusband. Academy Award-winning actor and star of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Forest Whitaker, shared Michael’s story.
Learn more about TBI and PTSD.
Resources for military families facing deployments, homecomings, changes and grief can be found on Sesame Workshop’s Talk, Listen, Connect website.
Leesa Philippon's Story
Leesa Philippon faced one of the most difficult and unnatural situations in life – the death of a child before the parent. Her son, 22-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Lawrence Philippon, was killed on Mother’s Day, 2005. Along with other mothers whose sons are buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Leesa is dedicated to honoring Larry’s life, courage and bravery, and to telling his story. Two-time Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress Dianne Wiest, shared Leesa and Larry’s story.
Find resources for how to cope with losing a loved one.
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Jimmy Smits reminds us that grieving fallen loved ones, however painful, is an honoring of those who have given their lives for us.
“Working with the USO gave me the opportunity to spend time overseas with our service men and women, an experience that underlines the importance of Memorial Day. It is an occasion for every American to recognize those who have dedicated themselves to help preserve the core values of our country and it is a true honor to be a part of the National Memorial Day Concert.” – Kris Allen