Both of television legend Deidre Hall’s stepsons have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, inspiring the actress to embrace the role of artist, creating watercolor paintings that are now holiday cards with a very specific purpose.
“I think every year we struggle with what to get, what to say, what to do to let people know just how much we care about them,” said Hall, who is best known for her role as Dr. Marlena Evans on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives.”
“I can’t think of a better way to say thank you to the men and women who have given everything to us.”
Because of her gratitude to the military, she is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the cards to the Wounded Warrior Project.
“‘Because they gave a hundred percent for us,’” Hall said, reading from the back of her card. “‘Cause they do, every single day.”
Hall’s connection to the military begins with her own family, which has experienced the tumult and heartbreak that accompanies overseas deployment. Her stepson Sgt. Monty Buchanan is about to be deployed, but not before specialized training at Camp Pendleton.
Her stepson Sgt. Robert Buchanan has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hall’s face balances pride and worry as she explains his work: “The ‘Hurt Locker’ guys. The guys who go out and say, ‘Is that a bomb? I’ll be taking care of that.’”
Once an avid surfer, Rob’s experience on the battlefield has made it impossible for him to get back in the water since he’s returned home, Hall said.
“It was an explosion. Everyone was impacted and I mean impacted by it,” she said. “It’s still nightmares; it’s still headaches that go on for days without relief. It’s shell shock. It’s post-traumatic stress.
“He was a surfer, a California boy. I said, ‘Would it be good to be out there to be out of your head?’ [He said,] ‘Oh, I can’t go near the sand.’“
Hall takes a moment before concluding: “Say no more.”
Cpl. Sherman Watson credits the Wounded Warrior Project with helping him transition from repeated deployment to a full-time collect student.
“They are all about activities,” he said of the project. “Get you out of the house and get you into the normal world.”
The U.S .Marine Corp flag proudly flies outside the Compton home of Watson, who served three tours in Iraq and was injured in each deployment.
“I had to learn to walk straight again,” he said. “I had to learn how to read again, write again. I still have memory problems and extreme headaches.”
Although the pair never met, when Watson learns of Hall’s efforts on behalf of veterans, he is thankful.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” he said.
Back in Burbank, when Deidre learned NBC4 was visiting Watson, she had a request. Hall wanted to meet Watson, shake his hand and thank him.
When Hall exited her car parked in front of Watson’s Compton home, she raced up the veteran’s driveway. The hand shake was quickly abandoned for a hug.
The actress sat for a few minutes. She wanted to know his story. She shared cookies and cards. As Watson thanked her, she immediately stopped him, “No, no, no. Thank you, for your service.”