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Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
December 14th, 2012
09:56 AM ET

New military film explores duty to country vs. family, actor Aidan Quinn talks "Allegiance": 'military always there...they kept it real'

Actor Aidan Quinn’s new film, "Allegiance", harkens back to 2004, when National Guard troops were sent to Iraq. Thousands of soldiers who had signed up for part-time duty were suddenly faced with a year of combat in a foreign country. In the new film Quinn plays a battalion commander who has to prepare a part-time unit for combat. "Allegiance" explores issues of loyalty versus duty and Quinn comes to the studio to talk about the film.

Based on director Mike Connors’ personal experiences while serving in the military, the film pays tribute to the 21 million veterans living in the United States today. It was written, directed, produced and financed almost entirely by veterans. Former Navy SEALS and Army Green Berets were enlisted to train the actors and extras. "We had military always there," Quinn says. "They just made sure that they kept it real."

Soledad O'Brien asks if military movies are becoming more common in Hollywood. Quinn says no. “I think Hollywood’s very afraid of any military films,” Quinn says, “because they’re tough for the audience, because we have conflicted feelings about involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the great thing that has changed is we have 100%—almost seems like 100%—approval of our veterans and support for our veterans.”

"Allegiance" is now available on VOD, and hits theaters on December 28 in NY and January 4 in LA.

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Filed under: Military • Movies • Veterans
November 23rd, 2012
09:29 AM ET

Hotels for Heroes: Donating miles to help provide housing wounded warriors and families

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Fisher House Foundation's Dave Coker on the Hotels for Heroes program. For more information, visit

Filed under: Doing good • Veterans
November 12th, 2012
12:38 PM ET

Operation: Warrior Wellness helps veterans with post-traumatic stress find peace in meditation

Today, we observe Veterans Day, the day to honor the more than 22 million troops who served in our military. But often, the sacrifice doesn't end when the troops come home. For many, there are injuries, physical and mental, that haunt them as they try to return to civilian life.

This morning on "Starting Point," Soledd talks to publisher Russell Simmons and David Lynch Foundation executive director Bob Roth to talk about Operation: Warrior Wellness. It's a project that brings transcendental meditation to the veterans who are experiencing post-traumatic stress.

"I've been teaching transcendental meditation for 40 years, and I've been teaching it 20, 30 years ago to Vietnam vets and even World War II vets, but it's just been in the past years where the understanding that post-traumatic stress disorder is a real epidemic that has no conventional, traditional solution," Roth says.

"It's profoundly effective for giving deep rest, healing the brain, and reducing stress. So, we got approached by a lot of military people and veterans organizations saying, hey, can you offer TM to the vets," he adds.

"Everyone benefits from meditation," Simmons says. "This idea of letting your mind settle is in every religion, but it's also in every spiritual teaching, but also everyone needs to look inside for reflection in order to work outside."

Simmons adds that "operating from a calm space has got to be the greatest gift anyone can be given to teach people how to look inside and to then give from the inside out. I mean, all your happiness sits inside. Every creative idea you have comes from a moment of presence."

Roth says research shows transcendental meditation can promote a 50% reduction in the symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and also reduce instances of heart disease, which is a by-product of PTSD, anxiety and sleep disorders. Roth emphasizes that it can be used in conjunction with psychological treatment.

For more information on the program, visit

Filed under: Meditation • Veterans
September 6th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Flo Rida gets 'low' for veterans at DNC, talks about importance of helping them return to civilian life after combat

Rapper Flo Rida on the "Got Your 6" campaign, helping U.S. veterans with reintegration into civilian life after combat.

August 6th, 2012
12:51 PM ET

Ty Pennington unveils bipartisan project to build a house for a veteran

More than 60,000 U.S. veterans are homeless and the Veterans Administration estimates that they make up 14% of the homeless population. While Congress can't agree on much, helping those veterans is a priority for both Democrats and Republicans.

In a bipartisan effort, celebrity home builder Ty Pennington will be visiting both the Republican and Democratic national conventions as part of the "Craftsman House United" project, aimed at bringing volunteers and elected officials together to build a house from scratch for one deserving veteran and their family.

Pennington joins the Starting Point team to unveil the project on the show this morning.

Filed under: Veterans
July 4th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

After toast to fallen soldier goes viral, Bennigan's announces special initiatives to help veterans

Bennigan's CEO Paul Mangiamele and server Hannah Hobbs talk about the enormous response to her photo of a tribute to a fallen soldier, and announce two new initiatives to help veterans.

Filed under: Veterans
June 7th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Jill Biden sits down with Soledad, says a sense of humor is important in politics and hopes to help kids deal with a parent's deployment

The second lady of the United States Jill Biden has written a new children's book. It's called "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops." It tells the story of what it is like for kids in military families when a parent is deployed.

The story was inspired by Biden's own family when her son Beau was sent to Iraq in 2008, and it's told through the eyes of Beau's daughter, Natalie, who was five- years-old at the time.

Jill Biden sits down with Soledad on "Starting Point" and explains why this book was so important for her to write.

"I realize that being a military family ourselves - the Bidens are military family - that many Americans did not know a military family and didn't know the experience of a military family," she says. "I wanted to really educate Americans and then hopefully inspire them to commit to an act of kindness. So that's why I put in the back matter so that people - once they read the books if the moms read it or the dads and say hey, what can I do. You know I want to help a military family that there are suggestions there for kids and for adults."

Biden addresses the polarization in modern politics, and says the GOP has gone 'way far right.'

Biden also responds to recent skewerings of her husband, Vice President Joe Biden, on shows like Saturday Night Live where they poked fun at Biden getting out in front of the president on the issue of gay marriage. She says

"You've got to be able to laugh at some of the things in have to have a sense of humor to survive it," she adds.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Politics • Veterans