Olympic Gold Medalists Laurie Hernandez and Jordyn Wieber, along with world-class coach Desiree Sanchez, traveled to Spain and Italy to bring gymnastics to military youth.
When asked about her experience, Sanchez said: "Touring with Armed Forces Entertainment has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. I’ve been pretty fortunate to be part of some cool experiences, but this is by far something that has changed my life. Every single person has influenced me in some way and Armed Forces Entertainment gave me a way to take what I love in my life, which is teaching kids and gymnastics and learning about families, and I get to share that, not only in my own little bubble of the world, but across the globe."
"Doing these clinics for the military kids is so important because it gives them a connection to something that maybe they’ve never had a chance to do in their life. Or something that was maybe once part of their life and that they miss. It gives them a chance to see these Olympians that they’ve watched on TV, whether it be in the Olympic Games or, like Laurie, on Dancing with the Stars, and have a moment where they get to be star struck, when they get to give a hug to an Olympian or ask a question or have that moment that will stay with them."
"Some of them leave other parts of their families in the states, some of these kids come to something totally new. And change is scary, you are in a new environment, in a new place, and it’s hard to adapt sometimes. I think to give these kids an opportunity to just run and have fun and learn and have that little star struck moment is something that they deserve, these families deserve, for everything that they sacrifice for us."
Comedians Rob Schneider and Jamie Lissow brought laughs to the troops stationed in Greenland and Caribbean.
“I’m just here as a way of saying thank you to all the troops for your service and for everybody spending that time away from home and serving their country. It’s such an easy thing for us come here and tell jokes. We’re grateful to all of you, so thank you.”
“One thing I take home is really seeing that the troops that are out here protecting us, they’re all these individual people that make up our military. They’re all very different, they’ve all got families, from all over, all making the sacrifice.”
“Just such great, great kids in America serving their country. They really are just the best-natured young people and their commanders are really caring, good guys. We get them for a couple hours, make them laugh really hard and make them feel at home, give them a taste of home, for ninety minutes. At the end of the day, I think that shaking the hand, giving them a hug is as important – maybe more important – than the show. Just saying ‘thank you for your service.’ And thank you for your service, hope you had a great time. We had a great time and we look forward to doing it again.”
Hip-hop artist Lecrae recently toured with us in Japan and Okinawa to bring his inspiring music to the troops.
When asked about his experience, he said: "My background affects my music in a sense that I think a lot of hip-hop artists come from disenfranchised circumstances or struggles. And so some of the things that I've been through, rap music is my outlet to communicate that, and now as I've gotten older and I've transitioned and gone through so much stuff, I can now start giving solutions to a lot of the stuff I've been through. I would say all the positivity and hope that I exude, first and foremost, comes from my faith in God. And two, it comes from having a really solid community of people around me who, in my worst times, they are there for me. They've been there for me consistently. Touring with Armed Forces Entertainment is really special. It's unique because you're getting to see so many worlds at one time, you're getting to affect so many worlds at one time. It's the country that you're coming to, you're seeing that, you're seeing military life, and you're getting to inspire the people who are out there sacrificing every day so that you don't have to worry about the security and safety of your own home. That's a real added benefit to Armed Forces Entertainment. It's important to provide hope and inspiration to people because, I think, you can't take care of anybody else if you are not mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. If I can contribute to your mental, emotional, spiritual health, then I'm contributing to you being better for your country, your family, everything. For me, that's very crucial. Sharing my talent with Armed Forces Entertainment and with the military is special to me because it gives me a chance to give back. And that's what it's really all about. It's about giving back, it's about 'you can talk about it, but can you be about it?' And if I'm this person who's always talking about affecting change and helping service people, but you never see it, then I'm just talking."
Comedian and actor Adam Devine traveled with AFE to Japan and Okinawa to bring laughter to the troops.
When asked about his experience, he said, “Touring with Armed Forces Entertainment has been the craziest, best experience that I’ve ever had. I’ve got to go all over Japan. Normally, if you come to Japan, you’re just vacationing, you’re gonna go to Tokyo, you’re gonna go maybe one other place. But I’ve got to experience things that I never thought I would experience and driving through the countryside and seeing the roadside stops and the food it is, oh, it is so good. I feel like my head has grown three sizes on this tour. I love getting out there and making people laugh, especially like with Armed Forces Entertainment, going to places where people need to laugh. People need a little piece of home and to make this foreign land not feel so foreign. I feel so lucky doing this and having these opportunities. It’s cool when people are excited to meet you. I know people that aren’t like that and it just bums me out. This was my childhood dream to do this and the fact that it worked out the way I wanted it to, like I set out a plan, and now I’m achieving that, what do I have to complain about? I just want to say thank you so much for doing what you do and protecting us and serving us and giving me the opportunity to come here and just be the goofy little maniac that I am. Because without them doing what they do, we could very easily not have the freedoms that we have."