WASHINGTON — Tom Hanks, among the honorees for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s inaugural Heroes and History Makers gala, didn’t hesitate when a reporter asked him whether he’d talk to President Donald Trump about caregivers for veterans.
“In order to help our wounded veterans and the caregivers that are working so hard to take care of them, I’ll be happy to twist anybody’s arms,” he told reporters in a break from the event at the Washington Hilton.
Hanks, who chairs the campaign, talked about how the ability to “take care of our own” was “an inherently American trait.” Yet he told reporters of how the stories of so many caregivers are unknown.
“The key word here is hidden,” he said. “These people are operating in the shadows and they think there is no place to turn to, there are no phone calls that they can make.”
The caregivers, he said, face a “myriad of problems that are so simple to solve with a little bit of help, but there are so many of them that they need more than one source of aid. Time is a huge thing. Finances for a house payment, babysitting duties.”
Hanks is a longtime champion on veterans causes, but he’s not so sure that some of the stories of military caregivers would naturally translate into a feature film.
“I don’t know that Hollywood could create as authentic a story about Iraq or Afghanistan, people that are on the fourth or fifth tour of duty, that could not be told much, much better by a documentary or news media, that is not going to just put it in the standard confines of protagonist antagonist,” he said “It’s a tough thing, and we argue about this all the time of what is going to be the best venue for a story to be told, and many, many times it is not a Hollywood movie. It is something else.”
Other honorees were Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader and possible next speaker of the House, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
In his Q&A with reporters at the event, Hanks was joined by Dole, the former senator and cabinet secretary. She had just told the gala about her husband Bob Dole’s fandom for Barbra Streisand, to the point where he recently called her and they chatted on the phone.
Asked whether there was any jealously on her part, she laughed and said, “I thought it was wonderful.”
Hanks quipped, “Better ask Jim Brolin. I think he might be pissed.”
“Now he wants her email,” Dole said of her 95-year-old husband. “I said fine, let’s get her email and you two communicate. I’ll be watching over his shoulder, of course.”