Sunday, November 10, 2013

We Need An Annual, All-Channel Telethon For Our Veterans

Temptations at Homeward Bound Telethon for veterans
Telethons have become a curious American institution. The biggest and most infamous one, of course, was the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, the kitschy, old-school show-biz affair that for five decades raised millions of dollars for muscular disease before Jerry inexplicably walked away in 2011. 

Well, just as Labor Day became synonymous with the Jerry Lewis telethon, I'd like to see Veterans Day become synonymous with a national telethon for veterans. It's a no brainer, right? And it should be broadcast on all of our 1,000-plus channels so we have no choice but to watch it, and support it. It’s the very least we can do for those who have served our country.

The telethon happening later today is a good start. Actors Alan Alda and J0e Mantegna will host Homeward Bound, a live, four-hour national telethon to support American veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Presented by Haven from the Storm and airing live to a nationwide audience on the Military Channel, the telethon will be broadcast from the historic American Legion Hall #43 in Hollywood from 7:00-11:00 PM (ET). 

The first two hours of the telethon will also air on Tribune's PIX11 (New York) from 7 - 9:00 PM ET; WGN (Chicago) from 10:30 PM - 12:30 AM (delayed)(CT); and on KTLA (Los Angeles) from 4 - 6:00 PM (PT). The telethon will be live-streamed on and rebroadcast on the Armed Forces Network on Monday.

Among the celebrities who will be appearing on the telethon tonight are Secretary of State John Kerry, Mark Harmon and the cast of NCIS, Alan Alda, Trace Adkins, Patti Austin, Jason Bateman, James Brolin, Napoleon and Tabitha D'Umo, Dr. Phil McGraw, Bette Midler, Kevin Spacey, Steve Tyrell, Ben Vereen and Henry Winkler. 

The telethon will also feature performances by The American Military Spouses ChoirCactus CrossingUnder The StreetlampGentleman's Rule and The Temptations Revue.

The broadcast will include testimonials and personal stories from veterans and their families who've experienced difficulties as they returned from the battlefronts of WW II, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

These include decorated war veterans Staff Sergeant Ty Carter (2013 Medal of Honor recipient) and Staff Sergeant Kyle Hausman-Stokes (Bronze Medal recipient); US Paralympic Medal Winner Marine LC Brandon Pelletier; actor/Navy SEAL Joel Lambert; Tuskegee Airman Lt. Bob Friend; Army Sergeant Tom Woods, Vietnam Vet Dannis Johnson, and others.

People magazine, for which I worked for many years, is teaming up with Homeward Bound because of the magazine's commitment to providing assistance to men and women who served in the military. A portion of the night's proceeds will go to one of People's charities, Operation Finally Home, which provides custom-built, mortgage free homes to America's heroes and the widows of the fallen who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms and our way of life. 

Operation Finally Home brings together corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, developers, individual contributors, and volunteers to help these veterans and their families transition to the home front by addressing one of their most pressing needs - a home to call their own. (

Other participating charities in this telethon include The American Red Cross, New York Presbyterian Hospital, One Mind 4 Research, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Here's hoping that tonight’s telethon plants the seed for a much larger annual Veterans Day tradition. 


  1. Jamie:

    You are a true friend of our military veterans and that earns my respect, without question. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the average American really cares that much about the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make for the country. If they did, I would have expected greater outrage a few weeks ago when the administration refused to pay the death benefit for our dead soldiers at Dover Air Force Base. I truly hope I am wrong on this one and this seed that you are planting will grow into something wonderful. Just so you know, I'm in the tank for you on this one and I will do whatever I can to make it work. Keep it up, my friend.

    John Cook

    1. Thanks John. I know it seems that way a lot of the time, but I also know that wen I talk to people about veterans, there are very few people Americans, no matter what their political stripes, who don;t want the very best for our former warriors.