Atten-Hut! Tom Hanks Kicks Off His Role as Chair of Hidden Heroes Campaign for Military Caregivers

"It will be astounding how a tiny bit of help can alter the lives of those people," Tom Hanks said on the Today show, Tuesday

Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC

Tom Hanks is parlaying his onscreen experiences into a real-life campaign to help the rarely celebrated caregivers who aide military members who are injured in action.

Hanks helped Army wife Jessica Allen launch the Hidden Heroes campaign on Tuesday during an appearance on the Today show.

“I’ve covered some of this turf in my fake life as an actor who puts on other people’s clothes, and the emotional impact of a number of those jobs, it’s never left,” Hanks, who starred in Saving Private Ryan, told Matt Lauer. “It comes down to a chance to serve and I think help out in a very pragmatic and understandable way.”

The Hidden Heroes campaign, which was created by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation with support from Comcast NBC Universal, serves as a portal for military caregivers to connect, find support programs and participate in education programs.

Further, caregivers can access free financial advice, and view testimonials from others taking care of injured veterans.

Hanks, 60, explained the role of a caregiver is a “24 hour a day” job.

“The thing that I can’t stress enough is that there are military caregivers in your neighborhood,” said the Sully star. “It will be astounding how a tiny bit of help can alter the lives of those people.”

Allen got involved after her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Chaz Allen, lost both legs and one of his elbows after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011.

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“Every single day I have to think about what my day’s going to look like and pray that my husband doesn’t further injure himself,” she explained of her role as his caretaker.

Dole also has direct connections to the loved ones and workers helping out servicemen and women: Her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, spent 11 months at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center five years ago. There, she witnessed “the kinds of challenges that” caregivers face.

She told Today via satellite from Washington, D.C., “I had to do something about it.”

For more on the Hidden Heroes campaign, visit the Elizabeth Dole Foundation website.

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