For the second year in a row, Variety and the History channel are joining forces, teaming up on a television special that pays tribute to veterans and military families.
“Variety Salute to Service,” hosted by Robin Roberts, will premiere on the History Channel at 9 p.m. ET on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and showcase those whose lives were changed by their military service. The special also features former President George W. Bush speaking about his Presidential Institute’s Military Service Initiative, which helps post 9/11 vets and their families. Additional participants in the program include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Strahan and Bob Woodruff.
“I’m a proud military brat! My beloved father Col. Lawrence E. Roberts, who served in three wars, began his military career as a Tuskegee Airman. I witnessed first hand the sacrifices my father and other members of the military made to keep this country safe. They fought for our freedom and I welcome every opportunity to honor them and those currently serving,” Roberts says.
The emotional special highlights the incredible true stories of veterans who have sacrificed so much to serve their country. The special also puts a spotlight on how vets make the sometimes difficult but ultimately very important transition from military to civilian life, while putting to use their skills and experiences, so that they can chart new and exciting paths in their lives, after their service has
“For over 25 years, the History channel has been proud to support our nation’s veterans and military families,” says Paul Buccieri, president and chairman, A+E Networks Group. “Our commitment to them is part of our DNA as a company. These heroes put everything on the line to protect us, so we feel a responsibility to stand with them and spotlight their stories. We are honored to join with Variety to salute military families through this special, shining a light on extraordinary veterans who are at the forefront of leadership and service in our communities.”
The History channel’s Mission to Honor initiative celebrates the contributions of veterans and military families through programming and content across all platforms. Retired Army Sgt. Travis Mills is among the veterans featured in the special. Mills, who served three tours in Afghanistan where he was critically injured by an IED, losing portions of both legs and arms, is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive his injuries. Mills’ service continues with the work of the Travis Mills Foundation, which provides a safe haven for veterans and their families to come together at a center in Maine.
“Recognizing, saluting and thanking all veterans, and their families, is important to who we are as a nation,” says Gerry Byrne, vice chairman of Variety parent PMC and a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. “To have this very important History channel partnership with their on-air ‘Variety Salute to Service’ special, allows us the perfect path to further ignite an awareness of the important issues and needs impacting the veteran community.”
The special also highlights the veteran and military affairs initiatives of Comcast NBCUniversal, which has developed strong enterprises to provide resources to veterans and military families. These efforts include Comcast Rise, a program that supports small businesses owned by people of color, including veteran-owned businesses. In the special, viewers learn the inspirational story of Navy veteran Steven Rho, who served in Somalia on the ship that responded to the American hostage crisis there. Today, Rho has launched a toy company called Big Future Toys. Comcast contributed airtime to advertise his business in the Atlanta area, drawing awareness and visibility that he says has helped jumpstart his endeavor.
“Military veterans have a long history of business ownership contributing to the economic health of local communities and our country,” says retired Brig. Gen. Carol Eggert, senior vice president of Military & Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal. “Through Comcast Rise, we’re honored to continue this legacy and empower those veteran-owned businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.”
As well as the Variety special, History will also air “Hidden Heroes: The Nisei Soldiers of WWII” at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 11.