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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


Gerald McRaney Helps VA Recruit Volunteers, Recognize Veterans

Jan. 3, 2002, 08:00:00 AM

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WASHINGTON – Accomplished stage and television actor Gerald McRaney has teamed up with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to honor hospitalized veterans and promote volunteerism at VA medical centers.

McRaney, who first became widely known to his television audiences for his role as Rick Simon, private investigator, in the TV series Simon and Simon, will chair VA's 2002 National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans campaign, an annual recognition of the men and women who once served in military uniform.  This year it will be marked by community activities around the country Feb. 10-16 at VA health care facilities.

"Through his role as a U.S. Marine in the TV series Major Dad, Gerald McRaney understands the commitment made by veterans and he values their contribution to the country," VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi said.  "We are pleased to have his talents and support as VA medical centers around the country showcase volunteer opportunities."

Approximately 100,000 volunteers contribute millions of hours a year helping hospitalized veterans with their compassion and attention to individual veterans' needs.

Serving as their spokesman during the National Salute, McRaney's duties as national chairman will extend beyond the week of February 10.  He has agreed to visit hospitalized veterans throughout the year.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to serve our nation’s veterans,” said McRaney. “While we have troops deployed now, we must not forget the ones who gave us the freedom we already have.  I hope that Americans everywhere will answer the call to volunteer their time to care for those veterans confined to hospital wards.”

The national event is timed to coincide with Valentine's Day because the sentiments of caring and sharing match the salute's purpose of expressing honor and appreciation to veterans. 

With the additional support of columnist Ann Landers, newspaper readers, classroom students, scout troops and others annually generate more than a million "Valentines for Veterans" cards and letters to local VA medical centers and nursing homes to express gratitude for veterans' service to their country.

Community and state officials, military and veterans organizations and youth groups often join with the public during the National Salute week to visit patients in VA hospitals, nursing homes, state veterans homes and other facilities.

Members of the public are encouraged to call their local VA health care facilities to participate in activities during the 2002 National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans.  At VA medical centers, they should ask for the voluntary service office, which coordinates the activities.

McRaney is a strong supporter of the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces.  During the Gulf War, he visited troops in Saudi Arabia as part of the United Service Organizations (USO).  Since then, he has been an active celebrity supporter of the USO, visiting U.S. troops in Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia.  In April 2000, he received USO's Merit award.

McRaney grew up in Mississippi and studied at the University of Mississippi, where he majored in drama and appeared in several stage productions.  Leaving his studies, he found the road to success difficult.  He joined the New Orleans repertory company and credits his work on the stage for preparing him for his later success in television. 

McRaney has three children, Jessica, Angus and Katy, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Delta Burke. 

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