We have compiled a list of 5 celebrities who you may not have known are U.S. military veterans. These Americans exemplify exactly what Veterans for Liberty stands for – Veterans as Extraordinary Citizens! Some of these men and women have been vocal about their military service, while others have not. Each one, however, continues to support the veteran community and further the advancement of our personal freedoms and liberties in various capacities.
And no, Channing Tatum is NOT a veteran, but rumor has it he’s friends with some of the guys over at Art 15!
5. Morgan Freeman, Airman 1st Class, Air Force
“I joined the Air Force. I took to it immediately when I arrived there. I did three years, eight months, and ten days in all, but it took me a year and a half to get disabused of my romantic notions about it.”
One of our generation’s most famous voices originally joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955, turning down a scholarship for drama school to become a fighter pilot. Upon his first day in the cockpit, he realized that flying wasn’t his destiny, and he instead became an Automatic Tracking Radar Repairman and received an honorable discharge as an Airman 1st Class in 1959. Since then, he has acted in over 40 motion pictures such as The Shawshank Redemption and narrated several well-known documentaries including Into the Wormhole. He has actively participated in USO programs for the troops, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from his home state of Mississippi for his career achievements and charitable work.
4. Randy Couture, Sergeant, Army
“I think the Army breeds a particular kind of discipline… It creates an attention to detail and discipline that affects you in everything you do in life.”
In 1982, right out of high school, UFC champion Randy Couture joined the Army and became an Air Traffic Controller in the 101st Airborne Division stationed in West Germany. He was discovered in the gym and recruited to join the All-Army wrestling team. He won at the 1983 Fifth Corps Regional Championships and became a full-time wrestler for the Army. Prior to his discharge in 1988 as a Sergeant, he was chosen as a second alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics. The rest of his MMA career is history, but less known is his role in helping to develop the Modern Army Combatives Program. Couture also founded the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation to honor U.S. Military veterans by raising money and awareness for wounded warriors and their families.
3. Willie Nelson, Airman, Air Force
“You’ll never get ahead by blaming your problems on other people.”
Willie Nelson served for 9 months as a trainee in the Air Force before receiving a medical discharge due to back problems. Nelson joined in 1950 immediately after high school, and after his discharge he worked odd jobs until making it big with his first hit in 1962, “Willingly”. Despite his short time in service, Willie Nelson has been an activist for many good causes such as farmers’ rights and legalization of marijuana. He’s also a huge veteran’s advocate, pushing for better healthcare and supporting veteran advocacy groups such as Operation Firing for Effect.
2. Jodi Ernst, Lieutenant Colonel, Army Reserve
“I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Jodi Ernst joined the Army Guard in 1993 and is currently a Lieutenant Colonel of the Army Reserve in command of the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Camp Dodge, Iowa. Her time in service is 21 years and counting, and she has served on one deployment to Kuwait in support of OIF. Jodi is also the only female combat veteran currently serving in the United States Senate. In fact, she was chosen by fellow Republicans to provide the GOP’s official response to the State of The Union address this year. In her home state of Iowa she had served as a State Senator from 2011-2014, during which time she was a strong advocate of veterans, gun rights, and personal freedom. Hopefully she will continue to set the example during her time in Congress.
1. Rob Riggle, Lieutenant Colonel, Marine Reserve
“I just love the Corps. I love the brotherhood, the camaraderie. I thank anyone in uniform who serves their fellow man. I love this country for so many reasons. We have such a great country here and it’s worth defending and it’s worth sacrificing for.”
Rob Riggle, one of the decade’s most famous funny men, joined the Marines in 1990 while he was a student at the University of Kansas. He already had his private pilot license and had planned on becoming an aviator, but he soon realized his gift for comedy and instead opted to become a Public Affairs Officer (PAO). Riggle served for 23 years on Active and Reserve status during which time he served in Afghanistan, Albania, Kosovo, and Liberia. While in the Marines he began as a stand-up comic on his off time and eventually gained popularity to earn his start on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1998. He retired from the Marines as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2013. His filmography includes 78 credits as an actor, including Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and most recently Dumb and Dumber To. LTC Riggle is an active participant in USO programs and always speaks highly of his fellow veterans.
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