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What This Is Us Star Milo Ventimiglia Loves About America

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As if America needed another reason to adore Milo Ventimiglia, the actor shared the profound patriotism he experiences every time he returns home from abroad.

“Every time I travel internationally — and it’s quite a bit — the moment that I get back to the U.S. and a U.S. customs agent … looks at my passport, hands it back and says, ‘Welcome home,’ it fills me with joy and pride and honor to be raised in our country,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s special 100 Reasons to Love America double issue.

The This Is Us star, 39, has even more patriotic connections (beyond his on-screen wife Mandy Moore having played a president’s daughter in 2004’s Chasing Liberty, of course!).

Ventimiglia’s father is a Vietnam veteran, which inspired the backstory of his This Is Us character, Jack.

“My dad is such a great man,” he told PEOPLE’s Jess Cagle. “I know even though he presented himself as put-together, I know that war impacted him and affected him; I would start to pull those feeling I saw from my own father into Jack.”

  • For more reasons to love America, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

Partnering with the USO, Ventimiglia and several other This Is Us cast members visited the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey last month.

“Service members are out every day, giving everything,” Ventimiglia previously told PEOPLE. “It’s the smallest and easiest thing to do to recognize the great work that all of our service members do for us.”

This Is Us returns Sept. 26 on NBC.