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tv   Stars and Stripes Unite A CNN Heroes Special  CNN  November 8, 2014 4:30pm-5:01pm PST

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9:00 p.m. pacific. we, of course, will cover that for you, as soon as it happens. now, don't miss cnn heroes, stars and stripes unite. ♪ veterans day. it's a day to honor and thank military personnel who served the united states. since 2007, cnn heroes has honored many everyday citizens who devoted their lives to supporting the men and women of the armed forces. among those who are giving back are some familiar faces, as well. >> people did recognize me from forrest gump. >> reporter: celebrities who step away from the limelight to honor, support, entertain and even humor the troops. >> my official name in afghanistan was general foxy lady. >> tonight, we take a look at some of our famous friends. big names who are helping u.s. veterans in big ways.
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like kid rock. >> trust me, i'm far from politically correct. i' -- i don't play that game at all. >> kid rock sings to packed venues, but also goes to military bases to perform for the troops. >> whatever you can do, are able to do, just try and do something. >> and gary sin ease. >> i'm lieutenant dan taylor. >> whose role in the hit film "forrest gump" made him a household name and also has a deep rooted reason for helping troops. >> i have vietnam veterans in my family. i remember what it was like for them to come home and nobody cared. >> and comedian cathy griffin. who will risk everything just to put a smile on a soldier's face. >> you get this overwhelming feeling of i will do anything to make them laugh. >> these stars will show you a different side. >> i guess it's the softer, easy-listening side of kid rock, which i'm sure many people will call bs. >> their patriotism is personal,
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and they'll tell us why. first up, one is a michigan bad boy. the other a texas do-gooder. >> we just wanted you all to come out today and see the type of homes we build for our heroes. >> together, they're an unexpect unexpected powerhouse. >> it is my honor to present cnn hero. >> music star kid rock met hero and humanitarian, dan wallwrath, in 2010. kid rock knew dan was building homes for injured troops. but he didn't know that their meeting with ignite a partnership to help veterans across america. >> i met dan wallworth of cnn heroes event. good old texas boy. and loved the work he was doing and he asked if i would like to help out and i said that would be great. through my conversations and meetings with dan and his crew, helping him raise money and doing what i can, i came to him and i was like, i think we can,
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you know, build one or two in michigan. >> kid rock got his start in the 1990s and has gone on to sell more than 25 million albums in the united states. ♪ still, he's always been grounded by his midwestern roots, and his heart has always been with the troops. >> i live in clarksston, michigan. a small town. so yeah, i do feel a lot more connected to people who serve. you know, when i was growing up i had an uncle who served in vietnam and grandfather in world war ii. i was raised patriotic. i loved my country and just want to do everything i can to support people out there fighting the good fight. >> with kid rock's support, dan and his team at operation finally home agreed to venture north to kid rock's home state, michigan. >> first of all, welcome home. thank you for your service. on behalf of pulte homes, these cowboys from texas, operation finally home and myself, you've got a brand-new home coming
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right across the street, fully furnished, top to bottom. >> found sergeant due mar and it was dwraegreat. it was incredible. the guys pounded every nail, laid the electrical and roofing and hats off to all of them. the whole experience of surprising him. it just made you feel good. i know it moved him. it moved me. and everybody that was there. >> known for his ability to mobilize teams to build top-notch homes for troops, he found he had made a partner and fan in kid rock. >> they go into a communities and they ask everyone in the community to help out. let's all get together and build this house. the quality of the homes are beyond first class. they get furniture. they load the pantries up. they really get you started on your feet in a great way. i just think the work they're doing is incredible. and, you know -- can't applaud them enough. >> kid rock has been on four uso tours and spent time performing for the troops in war-torn areas. >> get into this business because you kind of have a big
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ego. i think honestly a lot of us up here, you know -- we love the accolades. i've never been prouder or had more accolades in my life than being over there. and it was mutual. i'm applauding them and they're applauding me. it's kind of like, you know -- >> kid rock. thanks for coming to baghdad, man. >> it makes you feel so good, proud. >> what matters to kid rock is giving back to the veterans who served the united states. >> it doesn't matter your background or what you've done. i don't care if you've served time in prison or this that and the other. you can always give back. especially to our military. in some light, you know? whether it's shaking a hand or, you know, going over and singing a song in the middle east. there is something everybody can do. >> kid rock is grateful for the opportunity to meet and perform for those serving. >> when you're in the comforts of the luxury of living the lifestyle i've been blessed to have and then you go over there, and you know, you're in a war zone and it freaks you out a little bit. crazy scenarios where there's sirens going off and you've got to get off the stage because
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someone launched a mortar. seeing that, it just brings it all home. >> a partnership with cnn hero, dan wallwrath, kid rock is reaching out to the troops in every way we can. in 2010, he released a moving song entitled "care" and embarked on a charity tour to reach out to those in need. ♪ the least that i can do is care ♪ >> the song "care" is -- i guess it's the softer, easy-listening side of kid rock, which i'm sure many people will call bs. be like whatever. but you know, as you get older, you wake up different every day and different moods, you know, and music puts you -- accents the mood you're in. we kind of wrote about what was going on in the world at the time. i can't stop the war. i can't shelter homeless or feed the poor. i can't walk on water. i can't save your sons or daughters. i can't change the world and make it fair. the least i can do is care. i thought that was a great
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lyric. >> ladies and gentlemen, my hero, kid rock. >> in 2011, sharing the stage once again, kid rock performed "care" for a packed house in los angeles. ♪ ♪ i can't walk on water i can't save your sons and daughters ♪ ♪ i can't change the world and make things fair ♪ ♪ the least that i can do is care ♪ >> as much as of a hollywood fan as i am not, i don't think there's anyone there that doesn't care about our soldiers. from sending a care package to a letter, supporting a military family, just being there for them. you know, trying to find out what their needs are. whatever you can do, are able to do, just try and do something. i think it's as simple as that. >> up next -- >> i'm the bass player, and i'm lieutenant dan. >> his forrest gump legacy lives on. and later, kathy griffin raises some eyebrows. >> my official name in afghanistan was "general foxy
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for decades, gary has been in the spotlight as a stage performer, television actor, movie star and musician. but far from the limelight, he's a man on a personal mission, to support and strengthen america's service men and women and their families. ♪ gary started a nonprofit that provides housing and support services for veterans. his band has traveled the globe to perform hundreds of shows for troops. for gary, his passion and patriotism started young. >> i have vietnam veterans in my family. i remember what it was like for them to come home and nobody cared. so i wanted to make sure everybody knew we weren't forgetting them. i had a grandfather who served in world war i. my dad served in the navy. my dad's two brothers were in world war two. my nephew good afternoon is in the army, he's done two deployments in afghanistan. when i meet these folks, i very
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much see my own family members in them. >> nearly four decades ago, gary started volunteering with veterans groups. in the 1980s, he offered veterans food and entertainment at his steppenwolf theatre in chicago. it was in 1994 about with the release of the film "forrest gu gump" he was recognizable worldwide. >> i thought i would try out my sea legs. >> well, you ain't got no legs, lieutenant danny. >> yes, i know that. >> and it was that role that soon connected gary with the military community and beyond. >> the first military hospital that i visited was landstuhl in germany. and they didn't know who i was, except they knew i was from "forrest gump." >> over there! >> so they started calling me lieutenant dan and laughing. then i remember the first group of injured that i met. their faces lighting up when
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they saw me. they're burned up and banged up. but their attitude changed. >> after the attacks of september 11th, gary says he became even more dedicated to veterans. as well as 9/11 first responders and their families. >> when those buildings came down and we started having several thousand deploy to iraq and afghanistan, and they sta started getting hurt and killed, i just volunteered. and what can an entertainer do? the first thing i did was volunteer for the uso and started going overseas to the war zones ♪ gary teamed up with a group of musicians who wanted to cater their shows to the men and women on the front lines. ♪ >> told the uso folks, hey, i'm an actor, but i have a bunch of
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musicians i would play with. let me take them out and entertain. people did recognize me from "forrest gump." they were calling me lieutenant dan all of the time. i thought it was catchy. gary senese and the lieutenant dan band. >> the band is part of a mission to do something. i'm the bass player and i'm lieutenant dan, you know. >> since 2003, gary and the lieutenant dan band have performed nearly 200 shows for troops around the world. from iraq to afghanistan, korea to kuwait, gary has traveled to war-torn and remote areas to offer entertainment to forces. this year, we caught up with gary and the lieutenant dan band in jacksonville, north carolina. at camp lejeune, where fans lined up hours before the show. >> we're going to play for the marines today. we've got some units that have just deployed back so they have just returned home, and many, many families here.
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it's just a great heart-warming feeling to see these people smiling after such a long war and multiple deployments. ♪ lieutenant dan might have been a role he played, but gary sin ease has spent years inspiring service men and women around the world. >> thank you. >> thank you for serving. thanks for serving. >> all right. >> everything you did in that movie is what i did when i hurt myself. i went through depression, i got angry, and now i'm living the life to the fullest. so i want to thank you for inspiring me during that movie to be what i am right now. thank you so much. >> to point out gary makes no money performing for the troops. in fact, the concerts he puts on are just a small part of an even
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larger campaign to reach and support veterans. by 2015, his foundation will have 30 new homes for wounded veterans that are either completed or under way. >> we have thousands of wounded with special needs now. and they're going to have life challenges forever. and their families are going to have those challenges. so we're trying to build homes for those that are really in need of that kind of special housing. we're building homes for very badly injured service members. these are people that serve and protect and defend the united states of america. we all benefit from the freedom and security that they provide us. >> gary says giving back has been more rewarding than any award he could ever receive. >> people are always asking me, what's the best thing to do. i always tell them to look in their neighborhood first. just start there. is there a military family in your neighborhood that has somebody who is deployed. maybe they have lost a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister. build relationships with veterans and military families
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in your own community. and reach out to them. ♪ >> his commitment, his passion, is clear to see. >> i've seen too much over the years in the war zones and the hospitals to stop doing it. i'm in the public eye, and i can draw attention to these folks and to try to keep people aware of what's going on. a lot of need out there, and i'm just trying to do what i can, do my part. >> coming up next, kathy griffin breaks the rules to get some laughs. >> i knew that that night i had to bring a general on stage with me and demand on a microphone he call me general griffin.
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new aleve pm for a better am. . she's a tv star and an emmy and grammy award winning comedian. kathy griffin has been making people laugh for decades. she starred in hit shows like bra bravo's "my life on the d list" and has performed hundreds of times for sold out crowds across the world. but it's giving back to those who defend the united states that gives kathy her biggest boost. i don't think people realize how involved you are in veterans causes. >> yes, i became involved when i went to afghanistan on a uso tour. i went to kabul and kand har and aa forward operating base. have you done any reporting over there, or do you pretty much model? [ laughter ] it was a great learning opportunity for me. but also someone said the first
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time you go overseas and do a show, you're going to kind of get hooked. and that's what happened. it is an audience like no other because you're dealing with young men and women, and they're in a war zone. and they've seen and witnessed everything. and so as a comic you really want to bring the heat. >> the military tells you there's some things you shouldn't talk about. >> it's actually kind of scary. >> what do they not want you to talk about? >> oh, they said i couldn't make fun of people, deities, groups. i said that's my whole act. that's all i got. the first show i did i tried to stick to the rules and i bombed. so you guys are in lockdown, which is like you're prisoners. it's like you're prisoners, you're in lockdown. >> the sec show i had to ignore the rules and the second time i used profanity and got a big reaction. my first day, what a [ bleep ]. you get this overwhelming feeling i will do anything to get them to laugh. they have been to hell and back, currently still dealing with this on a daily basis.
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i'm going to leave after two weeks, but they're really living it. all right. shut the [ bleep ] i'm kidding. i'm kidding. my objective is always to make someone laugh. and that's the most important thing cause that's what i do. you know, you have served us. now if i could just make you laugh, that's what i want. >> from stateside events to hospital visits, it's these trips to meet the troops in person that are the most eye opening. seen in her bravo series "my life on the d list," kathy is dwo devoted to the troops. there are a lot of things you could be doing. but to actually go overseas, there's investment of time, safety issues as well. why that? why veterans? >> i never thought in my life i would go to afghanistan or iraq. being in their environment, my act was very personal to them. i had so many troops saying please don't forget us. please tell you are story. and so i went okay, they want their story told. >> i heard you demand people call you a certain name or title.
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>> yes, when i went to afghanistan, i thought it was time that they got schooled a little bit. so i asked everyone to call me general griffin. and let's role play. you be kathy griffin. >> uh-huh. >> i am a 22-year-old soldier. go ahead. >> call me general griffin. ms. griffin, i don't think i can. and of course i knew that night i had to bring a general on stage with me and demand on a microphone that he call me general griffin, and i would not stop until he did. and finally i broke down one of the commanding officers so much that they actually made me a uniform. and my official name in afghanistan was general foxy lady. >> let me get this. >> go ahead. get it. i'm proud. >> this is your uniform? >> yeah. they actually surprised me with this. but after having to call me general foxy lady for two weeks, they gave me this as a parting gift. now, look -- >> i don't see any actual rank
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saying general on this though. >> i'm pretty sure i'm a general. i mean, i don't have the paperwork. you know. there's something called the honor system. and i think if anyone ever told me i was general foxy lady, i am. >> do you think, you know, there's a lot of people who have felt disconnected from the wars in afghanistan and the wars in iraq. probably why the soldiers you talk to say, look, don't forget about us. you had a personal connection. your dad was a vet. >> my dad was in world war ii. i had many conversations with him about this before he passed away which was it was a different era where you didn't talk about the, you know, emotionally really horrible and challenging things that happened on the battlefield. my dad was actually a photographer in the army. he would fly over enemy bases and take photos. >> that's interesting. >> it's a very interesting job. >> it's also really dangerous. >> i would often say tell me a ww 2 story. that's what we called it. he didn't really talk about it. sometimes he would, but he would
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tell me a funny story. one thing i've gotten a lot out of and fascinated by is hearing each individual story, because this is thankfully a generation that's much more open to talking about things. and a lot of the great work with certain veterans organizations i work with or have observed is they're very good about getting these men and women to talk about their experiences and help them in that way. >> you're also recognized by veterans organization. >> yes. when i came back from i think iraq, i decided to be very magnanimous and give out free tickets to whatever nearby base was close to a theater i was playing. and then i met a lot of veteran is saying, oh, you're not toby keith. i hooked up with this because they let the vets go on at the computer and go see who they want to see. so now every show i do i have vets and meet my vets and give a shout out to the vets and their loved ones. when i met so many folks serving in the war zones at that time in those countries, they often
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expressed my wife is the real hero, my partner is -- what? what's your next question? >> you've been trying to get involved with heroes for a long time now. >> first of all, you have a lot of nerve even bringing up heroes to me. >> why? >> talk about wounded warrior. i've been wanting to present a heroes forever because i think it's a truly amazing award show. and i believe i confronted you new year's eve about it. >> all right. >> let's talk about heroes. cnn heroes is an amazing show. number one, not only was i not even invited. >> what do you mean not invited? >> people told me they did not trust me? >> did people not know you were actually going overseas and iraq? >> no. apparently at cnn you were so worried about my potty mouth they said you can't come to the show or present, however what if we showed you mopping up at a soup kitchen. >> to make up for past wrongs, i
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would very much like you to present a cnn heroes. is that something you would be willing to do? >> do you trust me? >> i would absolutely go. >> okay. >> thanks to gary sinise, kid rock and a special thank you to all the men and women who serve. hey, it's me, mike rowe. last time i went to maryland i tried to save a bell. it was a big bell. a dirty bell. and it hung from the top of an old steeple. and moving that thing around just about killed me. anyway, i'm headed back to maryland, this time to save one of these. that's a whooping crane. they're not dirty at all. but to save them you have to hide under a white sheet. that's me under the sheet. i didn't say it wasn't weird. somebody's gotta do it. new show, new mission. same guy. ♪


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