Archive for June, 2013

kids at play

Steve, Rob and Bobby get some moments to goof off during promotions for Comedy Warriors.

Bobby Henline, Rob Jones, Joe Kashnow, Steve Rice and Darisse Smith share at least two things in common. They are funny…really funny… and they are wounded warriors. And now they are officially stars of a movie that follows their path to become headliners of their own stand-up comedy show.

I got to see the new documentary, called Comedy Warriors, this weekend at a local movie theater as part of the San Antonio Film Festival. The movie follows these five vets as they are mentored by some of comedy’s greatest – Zach Galifianakis, Bob Saget, Lewis Black, DJ Novak, and others. Other than Bobby, they have no experience working a room for laughs but they share the belief that humor helps them heal. I know it’s cliché but I laughed and I cried. Mostly laughed … a lot.

Joe Kashnow, who lost his leg from an IED explosion, said he used humor to handle the amputation. When doctors came for the consultation, he told them, “If you must take my leg, I have two requests. One – I want you to give me my leg back so I can give it a proper burial in keeping with my Orthodox Jewish tradition. Two – I insist that my prosthetic leg have a secret door that can hold cookies.” He said psychiatrists visited the next day to see what was wrong with him. In his stand-up routine, he jokes that his leg is buried next to a tombstone that reads, “More to come.”

But humor doesn’t automatically make life easy. Kashnow endures intense daily pain and was suicidal at one point. He asked himself “I suffer every day. What is there that is worth sticking around for?” His answer: His son … and all the moments he might miss if he left this life. And now, stand-up comedy gives him an outlet, and distraction, to deal with the pain. After his debut show in Los Angeles, Joe came off stage and said, “That was awesome. I’m still aware of the pain in my leg but for this moment, it’s not as bad.”

Follow Comedy Warriors on Facebook to show progress.

This movie is a must-see.


Me and Bobby Henline after the screening. It wasn’t my first time to meet Bobby…and he really is hilarious, on stage and off.

The movie follows each warrior as they go through the mentoring process, to their debut on stage and after. It is full of heart-warming moments. For example, Bobby’s teenage daughter tearfully wonders why people stare at her Dad’s scars on his face, “He didn’t ask for this.” Bobby and his daughter were at the screening the day I attended and she joked that she still had more Twitter followers than he did. Help Bobby out and follow him on Twitter.

And there are moments that make you cringe. “I told my wife that if I didn’t come back from Iraq in one piece, that she should go on without me. Thankfully she and her new husband rent me space in the garage.” This piece of fiction (Thank God!) was part of Bobby’s routine, who is still happily married to his wife.

This movie helps bridge the gap between civilians and military. Between the able-bodied and the disabled body. Between those who suffer and those who will. And it does it all with laughter.

After the screening, Bobby Henline took questions from people in the nearly full theater. I asked, “How can we help you promote this movie so more people see it?” He said, “Follow Comedy Warriors on Facebook and Twitter and, if you can, donate money so we can purchase entry into more movie festivals.” The film won Audience Choice for the Best Documentary at the San Antonio Film Festival. A much-deserved award. And I wish them many eyes to see this incredible story in the future.

Bobby, who has served on the board of our Texas Field Office, said he was the only one who survived the explosion that hit the Humvee he was riding in. “I owe it to the ones who didn’t make it, to do everything I can so they didn’t die in vain. I hope to bring more joy and good from this experience” to outweigh any bad from those who tried to kill.

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Roker-TV-SpecialAll of us here at Operation Homefront are inspired every day by the strength and courage of our military families, veterans, and wounded warriors.  So, it is truly a pleasure when we can share that inspiration and celebrate them in a BIG way, with the help of some very special friends.

Over the last couple of weeks, a couple of super cool guys you may know…Al Roker, Aric Almirola and Richard Petty… joined Operation Homefront and our partner Eckrich Meats in surprising military families around the country.

SPOILER ALERT:  Bright smiles, fierce hugs, tears and shouts of joy ensued.

Tune is this week to catch Operation Inspiration on your local NBC station:

Broadcast Schedule

Date City Time
Sat. 6/22/13 Columbia 7 – 7:30 pm
Greenville 7 – 7:30 pm
San Antonio 1:30 – 2 pm
South Bend 7:30 – 8 pm
Sat. 6/29/13 Atlanta 7:30 – 8 pm
Champaign 6:30 – 7 pm
Charleston 6 – 6:30 pm
Chicago 6 – 6:30 pm
Cincinnati 7:30 – 8 pm
Cleveland 7 – 7:30 pm
Columbus 7 – 7:30 pm
Corpus Christi 5 – 5:30 pm
Dallas 6:30 – 7 pm
Detroit 7 – 7:30 pm
Grand Rapids 7 – 7:30 pm
Hartford 7 – 7:30 pm
Houston 6:30 – 7 pm
Indianapolis 7:30 – 8 pm
Kansas City 6:30 – 7 pm
Los Angeles 7 – 7:30 pm
Miami 7 – 7:30 pm
Oklahoma City 6:30 – 7 pm
Peoria 5 – 5:30 pm
Philadelphia 7 – 7:30 pm
Pittsburgh 7:30 – 8 pm
Raleigh 7:30 – 8 pm
San Diego 6:30 – 7 pm
San Francisco 7:30 – 8 pm
St. Louis 6:30 – 7 pm
Toledo 7 – 7:30 pm
Tulsa 7 – 7:30 pm
Washington, D.C. 7:30 – 8 pm
Williamsburg 6 – 6:30 pm
Sun. 6/30/13 Baltimore 11:30 am – Noon

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There are moments when you don’t have to say a word to explain the special moments in a military family’s life.  Thanks to Dove Men+Care, and their Mission:Care, this is one of them:

Sponsored by Dove Men+Care and Operation Homefront,  Mission: Care will bring 300 families a special Father’s Day reunion.

For all of the Dads out there, especially our military Dads, we honor you this Sunday and always,  and will keep you in our thoughts until you are all home with your families.

Happy Father’s Day!

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And even better when that home is mortgage free!

It was an amazing day in Georgia, when our Operation Homefront family gathered to share the joy of handing the Bowen family the keys to their mortgage free home.

(*from right to left): Lt. General Brian Arnold (ret), Raytheon, Amy Palmer, Nick Kaylor, the Bowen family, Liz Fichtel, Viktor Zikas, RADM Joseph Kilkenny (ret), CSX Transportation

Corey Bowen was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. He always wanted to serve as a role model for his two younger brothers. Shortly after high school, Corey enlisted in the Marine Corps to be that role model in their lives and to serve his country at the same time.

Serving for 10 years, Corey performed primary scout duties as a rifleman. Corey would deploy twice in his career, once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. While deployed, Corey would suffer injuries that will eventually lead to his medical retirement this month.

Corey, his wife De’Trese, and their four children currently live in the Operation Homefront Village in Southern California. The rent-free living during his transition out of the service has helped allow the family to get themselves back on track and focus on what they would like to do in the future.

“I will be enrolling in school soon to obtain my bachelor’s in Business or Human Resources,” said Corey. “My plan for the future is to join the workforce in the Human Resources field specializing in organizational & employee development or staffing. If given the opportunity I would also like to explore the Employee and Labor relations field.”

Corey’s family lives all over the Atlanta area, and he has wanted to move back home for a while. The Bowen family is currently unsure of what the future may hold, but are very excited to hear that they were selected to receive a mortgage-free home in Lawrenceville, Ga. from Operation Homefront, United Rentals, and Wells Fargo.

We can’t thank United Rentals and Wells Fargo enough for being a huge part of making this happen for the Bowens through our Homes on the Homefront program.

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Who’s up for some fun and a chance to win some cool stuff, all while doing social good? Get onboard w/ Operation Homefront’s during the Veterans Charity Challenge! Any donation at any time during the challenge gets you a chance to win $250 GC. TODAY’s kickoff? If you donate at least $15 today, you will be entered to win a $25 Walmart gift card. We have so much up our sleeve, we almost want to spill it all (but we won’t)!  Check back periodically to see new challenges throughout the campaign!

What is the Veterans Charity Challenge? craigconnects, founded by Craig Newmark of craigslist, is celebrating its two-year anniversary by partnering with The Rahr Foundation to honor veterans and military families in the Veterans Charity Challenge. They’re giving away $100,000 and hoping to raise more money than ever thought possible for these amazing causes.

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