Legendary broadcaster Tom Brokaw said he has been committed to ensuring service members have “a life outside of their uniforms.”
Brokaw visited the Easter Seals facility Tuesday morning in downtown Silver Spring, just hours before being honored by the organization Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. for using his platform to assist veterans and their families.
Brokaw said Tuesday morning that his goal has been to raise the consciousness of the country about the “disconnect” of returning veterans’ needs.
“This is a perfect example of how you can re-integrate veterans back into civilian society,” Brokaw said of the center.
During his tour of the facility, Brokaw spoke with Tuskeegee Airman Cicero Satterfield of Takoma Park, Army veteran 1st Sgt. Ricardo Voysest of Bowie, Marine veterans Sgt. Carlos Mercedes of Ft. Meade and Cpl. D’Juan Jeffery of Capital Heights about their experiences.
Lisa Reeves, President and CEO of Easter Seals Serving D.C., Maryland and Virginia, said Brokaw was selected because he has a history of dedication to veterans.
“He’s done a lot for our nation,” she said, recalling a time when Brokaw addressed a crowd of WWII veterans — including her father — at the National World War II Memorial in Washington.
Reeves said Easter Seals is a collective effort that serves children from the time of birth, working-age adults and older adults and their families through its Silver Spring intergenerational center and 18 other sites in the area.
Easter Seals offers adult day services, child development centers, military and veterans programs, home and community therapy, respite programs and senior programming. It also aims to provide services to ensure people with disabilities and other special needs have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.
“If we don’t take care of the family, we don’t take care of the individual who is identified as needing help,” Reeves added.
Phil Panzarella, Easter Seals Board Chairman, said Brokaw understands the “plight” of veterans and their families.
“He understands that 1 percent of our population is currently supporting our country, and they’re in dire need of our support — not only from an employment perspective, but from a housing and an ecosystem of support that organizations like Easter Seals can provide,” Panzarella said. “Awareness has really been his campaign to try to make the American public aware of that great need from these veterans and these heroes who are coming back who definitely need our help.”
Panzarella said Easter Seal’s Caregiver Training Program aids veterans and their families with employment, homelessness and training.
Among the other honorees Tuesday night was actor Gary Sinise, who founded Operation International Children, which donates supply kits to the military and toys for children in conflict areas. He also launched the Gary Sinise Foundation, which honors veterans, first responders, their families and others in need.
Citi’s “Citi Salutes” program — which is committed to making a difference in the lives of veterans, service members and their families through career opportunities, community partnerships and financial products and services to meet the needs of the military community — was also honored Tuesday night.