As you know, this past Sunday was Veterans Day and we had a great weekend celebrating and honoring veterans—an incredible group of heroic men and women that, as you know, includes my father, Gene, and my wonderful GMA Day co-anchor Sara Haines’s parents, too.
On Friday, Sara and I shared a segment on GMA Day from a recent trip we took to a place that is near and dear to my heart: my pal Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Fitness Center, in L.A. As you know from past blog posts, you know that Unbreakable isn’t just any old gym: Through Jay’s organization Merging Vets & Players (MVP), it’s a place where former professional athletes and former combat veterans can come in, work out, and be part of a team of support again. Sara and I dropped in on some of the vets during a workout (and participated with a few jabs, punches, and crunches, too), but we also had the pleasure of really surprising one very important person in the Unbreakable family: MVP Program Coordinator Denver Morris.
From the small town of Santa Maria, California, Denver is a former Marine now in charge of reaching out to combat veterans. He joined the Corps in 2005, after graduating high school, and served as an infantryman with the Unit 2/7 in Twentynine Palms, in Saqlawiah, Iraq, and in Musa-quela, Afghanistan. Since leaving the service in 2009, Denver has lost more than 40 of his fellow Unit 2/7 veterans to suicide; he himself has battled suicide and homelessness. MVP co-founder Nate Boyer met Denver at a shelter in Hollywood, and offered him a job as the first staff member of MVP, and Denver moved out of the shelter shortly after. He’s been an invaluable part of the MVP team, so we cooked up a special surprise for him (click here to find out more).
Also, an update: Remember when I first announced The MSX x Unbreakable for MVP Challenge in October and challenged A-list members of Unbreakable to do 25 push-ups and post their videos on their social media feeds? Well, I’m happy to say that the response was pretty incredible: More than 530 articles of MSX by Michael Strahan clothing was donated to MVP in support of these amazing vets.
Later that night on Nightline, my ABC colleagues Dan Harris, Juju Chang, and Byron Pitts hosted a special Veterans Day report, as well. Watch here.
On Sunday, my Fox Sports friends and I went to Atlanta’s Fort Benning and spent the weekend with the soldiers. We got briefed and then rode in a tank (a first for me); we played in the Soldiers Flag Football Match; and I stayed on the ground as Charissa Thompson and Tony Gonzalez went skydiving with the U.S. Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights. But the highlight of the trip was visiting with the children and spouses of soldiers who’ve died in combat. It truly was a day to remember and you can get a look at our visit here.
It’s these kinds of stories of support, strength, and love that we should make it a point to share on Veterans Day, and every day, and I am so very proud that I was able to take part in their telling, too.