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Locals to appear on "The Today Show"
Movie star Tom Hanks, left, is pictured with Warren County residents Chaz and Jessica Allen.

Representing the 5.5 million military caregivers like herself across the country, Warren County resident Jessica Allen will appear Tuesday morning alongside award-winning actor Tom Hanks on “The Today Show” to raise awareness for the Hidden Heroes initiative.
“There are 5.5 million military caregivers and most people don’t know they exist,” said Allen, who lives near Centertown with her husband, retired Army Staff Sgt. Chaz Allen and their two children. “Over 60 percent of those caregivers are not spouses, meaning they are moms, dads, cousins and friends.”
Sgt. Allen lost both legs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan on Jan, 22, 2011. He spent an extended period in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. where he underwent treatment and therapy. The family moved here just over a year ago and resides near Centertown. Jessica is originally from Warren County, while Chaz was born and raised in Oklahoma.
Jessica said their family was chosen to help promote the Hidden Heros cause by Elizabeth Dole, wife of longtime U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who is also a wounded veteran.
“We met the Doles because Chaz was in the hospital at the same time as Mr. Dole, just down the hall,” Jessica recalled, noting that’s when she began working with the Doles to help other injured veterans.
Jessica said she and her family were flown to Santa Monica, Calif., in June where they spent the day with Tom Hanks.
“My youngest daughter, Ryann, knew him as the voice of Woody from Toy Story,” Jessica said. “He is really a great guy.”
The family shot a public service announcement that day which first will air on “The Today Show” this Tuesday. Jessica doesn’t know exactly what time she and Tom Hanks will be on the show.
“This will serve as the kickoff for the Hidden Heroes campaign,” Jessica said. “After the commercial airs, will be continue airing on NBC stations. Our hopes are to raise awareness and let military caregivers know there is somewhere they can turn.”
Jessica said people can go to to learn more about the initiative. They can donate to the cause or they can find out where they can get support as a military caregiver.
“It is those caregivers who help keep our wounded veterans alive,” Jessica said. “It’s because of them the suicide rates among our veterans isn’t even higher.”
Jessica said she will be flying to Washington D.C. immediately after appearing on “The Today Show” to help kick off the campaign there.
“The Today Show” airs at 6 a.m. on NBC which can be found on Channel 4 on both Ben Lomand and Charter.