Variety: Salute to Service (2017 to Present)


Introduction

Variety: Salute to Service centres on the contributions made by America’s veterans and military families, profiling individuals who are giving back to their communities and supporting other veterans through various initiatives.

Outline

Since 2017, Variety has developed Variety: Salute to Service, which are specials focussed on the many contributions of veterans and military families.

The programme profiles extraordinary veterans who now continue to give back to communities and support other veterans through an array of initiatives. The one-hour specials also showcases companies and non-profit organisations that help veterans transition to civilian careers and pursuits.

Since 2020, Variety has worked with the History Channel to develop the programme.

Variety: Salute to Service airs annually on 11 November and has a range of celebrities who partake in the event.

2020

This special will included appearances from Trace Adkins, Kevin Bacon, Bryan Cranston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mario Lopez, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Ripa, Shaggy and Gary Sinise, all of whom will pay their respects to the courageous men and women who serve the US.

The programme will highlight organisations such as Headstrong, Team Rubicon, The Bush Institute, Gary Sinise Foundation and the USO – which will showcase its work with the troops since its inception and its current initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cranston will present the USO segment, which is a non-profit partner of the programme. Verizon, which employs more than 10,000 veterans, will also be featured in celebration of being voted the No. 1 military-friendly company for a third consecutive year.

2021

Military veterans who have transitioned to new forms of service in their civilian life were the focus of the second annual Variety and Voices Magnified “Salute to Service”.

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts hosted the hourlong programme, which featured appearances by President George W. Bush, “GMA” anchor Michael Strahan, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff.

The special featured vignettes of a range of people “who served in the military and then continued to serve their countries and communities,” as Roberts explained, from a quadruple amputee who now runs a retreat centre for veterans in Maine to a former Navy Lieutenant Commander who is pursuing his dream of becoming a NASCAR driver.

Anna Rita Talerico is a retired US Army Reserves major who helped build the American Medical Centre in Kabul after her service in Afghanistan as an air medic and Air Force physician’s assistant. In August, when the final US troop withdrawal led to chaos in the country, Talerico and others helped 137 people escape Afghanistan.

Kelly Emlinger is a national Paralympic triathlon champion who competed in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and is in training for the Paris games in 2024. She served several tours with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan as a medic and combat nurse. After retiring in 2018, she was diagnosed with the synovial sarcoma form of cancer in her leg and she ultimately made the hard decision to have her leg amputated. She’s always been a sports buff, and now she’s proud of her hard-won ability to compete at the highest levels.

The meeting of retired Air Force Col. Jeff Klosky and Eugene Gutierrez, a 100-year-old WWII veteran from Texas, is one of the most heart-tugging segments. Klosky treats Gutierrez to a brief flight in a vintage WWII plane as part of a veterans service project known as Dream Flights, which began as a project for veteran pilots in 2011.

2022

Among the organisations included in the special is Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster relief and humanitarian organisation co-founded by former Marine sniper Jake Wood in 2010 in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. The special tells the story of Beau Rodriguez, a veteran who served as a US Navy hospital corpsman for two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. When Hurricane Harvey brought destruction to his community, Beau realised his true calling and teamed up with Team Rubicon to lend his skills to help those in need. Today, Beau works as a site supervisor for Team Rubicon Rebuild, helping to transform homes damaged by natural disasters. Beau is just one of over 150,000 Team Rubicon volunteers serving communities.

The special also features the veteran and military affairs initiatives of Charter Communications, which has been named one of Forbes’ best employers for veterans. Through hiring initiatives, workforce training programmes and community engagement, the company has a long history of support for veterans and military families. The powerful story of Milo Staley and his son Joe Staley, both US Navy veterans who found new careers with Charter, is presented in the special.

Other veterans profiled include Dr. Muria Nisbett, a participant in the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership program. Born and raised in St. Thomas, Nisbett is a US Army veteran who now serves as a mental health professional specialising in counselling veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Through the Stand-To Veteran Leadership programme, she is helping to create Mission Lifeline, a phone tree of veterans designed to help fight isolation.

Also profiled is Brooke Jackson Kahn, a first lieutenant in the US Army reserves who is the first woman in her family to join the military. She enlisted in the army as a combat medic and then went through physician assistant school. This led her to start She’s the Veteran, an effort to increase support for female veterans. She’s the Veteran holds group events such as horseback riding, surfing and clay shooting. Through her efforts, Brooke raises awareness about the almost two million women veterans in the US.

In addition to these stories, several other veterans and initiatives are covered in the special, which serves as a powerful portrait of on-going service.

Production & Filming Details

  • Presenter(s):
    • Robin Roberts (2021).
    • Seth Meyers (2022).
  • Director(s):
  • Producer(s):
    • Sharon Scott … executive producer.
    • Kristy Sabat … executive producer.
    • Annie Allen … executive producer.
    • William Dunbar Dicks … producer (2020).
    • Clarissa Kern … associate producer (2020).
    • Dea Lawrence … producer (2020).
    • John Ross … producer (2020).
    • Michelle Sobrino-Stearns … executive producer (2020).
    • Dayna Wolpa … associate producer (2020).
    • Jordan Mancuso … producer (2022).
  • Writer(s):
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
  • Editor(s):
    • Dennis Clark.
    • Ron Frank.
    • Peter Iannuccilli.
    • Dennis Schoffstall.
  • Production:
    • Category 6 Media Group.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Lifetime Television (2020) (USA) (all media).
    • History Channel (2022) (USA) (TV).
  • Release Date: Annually on 11 November.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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