Sesame Street Partners with the USO Bringing the Mupets to Military Families Across the Country

Sesame Street Workshop

June 26, 2008 – In the wake of the Vietnam War, the American conscience was able to absorb the brutality of combat on the psyche of the returning soldier mostly by compartmentalizing it: the problem was real, and could be dealt with, but as in the embrace of movies like the haunting Deer Hunter, it was slowly accepted that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was an affliction that affected some, but not all veterans of the war. This is clinically true, but I believe new revelations about what was once called “shell shock” in the wake of WWI not only made Americans more sympathetic to Vietnam veterans, but had a transformative effect on a generation. A movement in the mental health field was not only successful in getting PTSD included in its battery of clinical diagnoses, but a massive effort was launched to treat PTSD and to ensure that veterans of future wars returning with symptoms of rage, guilt, paranoia and fear weren’t left to their own devices.

But a medical movement cannot stretch a burst of innovation and dedication into long-term, institutional progress without the commitment of society at large. Compartmentalizing our sympathy and understanding for veterans of one war, does not necessarily translate into learning our lessons for the next one. As mental health and veterans’ advocates have been saying for years, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face the same demons as their Vietnam predecessors and the data is bearing that out — one in five are returning home with PTSD according to the latest RAND study.

But it is stories like these, that indicate that the American public is due for another rude awakening. Joseph Dwyer was certainly not the only Iraq veteran to die at the hands of a beast his friends and family were not equipped to overwhelm. At age 31, it was pills and inhalants that swiped his last breath, and his mother and ex-wife, sounding like 1979, questioned why there wasn’t more support for the former medic who had been hailed years before as a battlefield hero in this now-famous photo :

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, and the USO (United Service Organizations) today announced The Sesame Street Experience for Military Families: a free traveling tour to military installations across the country. The tour, produced by VEE Corporation, is part of Sesame Workshop’s Talk, Listen, Connect initiative, a military outreach program which launched in 2006. The initiative provides support and offers significant resources for military families with young children experiencing the effects of deployment, multiple deployments or when a parent returns home changed due to a combat related injury. Military families who attend the experience will see a live character performance and receive giveaways and outreach materials from Talk, Listen, Connect and other partners. The tour officially kicks off on July 8 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms in California and will visit 43 installations across the country. The announcement was made by Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, Edward A. Powell, President and CEO of USO World Headquarters, Leslye A. Arsht, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy and Sesame Street’s Elmo, Rosita and Grover at the Reserve Officers Association (RSO). For up-to-date tour information and schedule, please visit

“The Sesame Street Experience for Military Families brings the Talk, Listen, Connect DVD and materials to life, and directly to the families who face the challenges of military life each day,” said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. “Our partnership with the USO further extends this initiative, visiting installations across the nation, to help these families bond through emotionally difficult times, by providing an educational and entertaining show and other outreach activities they can share.”

“This is a terrific, ground-breaking new program for military families,” said Edward A. Powell, President and CEO of USO World Headquarters. “Our partnership with Sesame Workshop on Talk, Listen, Connect has been a great success and The Sesame Street Experience is a creative new way to deliver even more morale-boosting services and programs to our troops and their families.”

TOUR SCHEDULE: Base City, State Date(s)
MCAGCC 29 Palms Twentynine Palms, CA Jul 8
Davis-Monthan AFB Tucson, AZ Jul 10
MCB Camp Pendleton Oceanside, CA Jul 13
MCAS Miramar San Diego, CA Jul 14-15
NS San Diego San Diego, CA Jul 18
NB Ventura County Ventura, CA Jul 19
Beale AFB Yuba City, CA Jul 22
McChord AFB Tacoma, WA Jul 24-25
NAS Whidbey Island Oak Harbor ,WA July 26
NB Kitsap  Oak Harbor, WA July 27
Mountain Home AFB Mountain Home, ID July 30
Hill AFB Ogden, UT Aug 1
Ft Carson Colorado Springs, CO Aug 3-4
Ft Bliss El Paso, TX Aug 7-8
Ft Sam Houston San Antonio, TX Aug 10-11
Ft Hood  Killeen, TX Aug 13-14
Ft Sill Lawton, OK Aug 16-17
Ft Riley Junction City, KS Aug 20-21
Offutt AFB Bellevue, NE Aug 23-24
Ft Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood, MO Aug 27-28
Ft Campbell Oak Grove, KY Aug 30-31
Keesler AFB Biloxi, MS Sep 3-4
NAS Whiting Field Milton, FL Sep 6-7
NAS Pensacola Pensacola, FL Sep 9
Hurlburt Field & Eglin AFB Fort Walton Beach, FL Sep 10-11
MacDill AFB Tampa, FL Sep 13
NS Mayport Jacksonville, FL Sep 17-18
NAS Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL Sep 19-20
Charleston AFB Charleston, SC Sep 25
MCB Camp Lejeune Jacksonville, NC Sep 27
Ft Bragg Fayetteville, NC Oct 1-2
NS Norfolk Norfolk, VA Oct 4
NAS Oceana Norfolk, VA Oct 5
Ft Eustis Beechmont, VA Oct 7
Ft Stewart Hinesville, GA Oct 10-11
Ft Belvoir Alexandria, VA Oct 14-15
Andrews AFB  Camp Springs, MD Oct 16-17
Ft Dix Fort Dix, NJ Oct 18
Wright-Patterson AFB Dayton, OH Oct 23-24
Pittsburgh JARS Pittsburgh, PA Oct 26
Ft Drum Watertown, NY Oct 28-29
Camp Ripley Little Falls, MN Nov 2

Tour dates subject to change. Please visit for the most up-to-date tour information.

Outreach materials for The Sesame Street Experience for Military Families are being provided by: Sesame Workshop, the USO, Military OneSource, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Military Child Education Coalition, the National Military Family Association and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. Additionally, Worlds of Discovery (SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place) and Beaches Luxury Included® Family Resorts will be offering special offers for military families.

Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes, is a bilingual (English/Spanish) multimedia outreach kit that features the Muppets from Sesame Street and consists of DVDs and print materials for children, parents and caregivers; and American Greetings postcards for families to stay connected. Sesame Workshop has produced and is distributing 500,000 kits at no cost to individual families, schools, child care programs, family support programs, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other organizations serving the needs of military families. The kits are being distributed with the help of Military OneSource, the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), the USO, the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and other partners. Special emphasis of distribution is on reaching families of the National Guard and Reserves. The kit materials are available online at, where streaming video is being provided by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, allowing families everywhere to view the videos and download the information.

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