Charter Communications, The History Channel and the Waxahachie High School student body rolled out the red carpet as they welcomed veterans from the community to the Take a Vet to School Day program. The event featured special guests Texas Senator Brian Birdwell, along with Jeff Kyle and Todd Aho of Heroes Project.

Hundreds of WHS students gathered in the school's fine arts center to pay tribute to more than 150 veterans through musical performances, video presentations and words of kindness by the WHS Choir, the WHS Wind Ensemble and the FFA Chapter of WHS' Ninth Grade Academy.

Jeff Kyle, a former U. S. Marine and the brother of famed sniper Chris Kyle addressed the hundreds in attendance. He not only touched on his eight years of military service, which included two combat deployments in the Middle East, but he explained the mission of Heroes Project and why they need community support.

“Our goal is to proved veterans with free in-home fitness equipment, personal training and life coaching,” Kyle said. “When you're in the military, there is a certain standard and way of life that you become accustomed to. Once you're relieved of those duties, you have to readjust your life, and many veterans that's a difficult thing to do.”

He said fitness is a major component of being a soldier, and when veterans find their way home, they have a difficult time adjusting because that component begins to fade.

“It's important for us to maintain the fitness aspect of who we are,” Kyle said. “And for many soldiers, it's what keeps them going.”

Kyle also spoke about the mental and emotional issues that soldiers struggle with once they return home. He said that is why it's critical for Heroes Project to offer a mental component to what they do.

“Being in combat, losing a fellow soldier and seeing the things that we see on a regular basis serving our country can be mentally and emotionally draining,” he said. “Once we're back home, we have to find an outlet to be able to talk about those things so that they don't overtake us. That's why we provide life coaching, so the men and women can have someone to talk to about their problems.”

Heroes Project is also a way for Kyle and Aho to say thank you to the men and women who have sacrificed so much. Kyle said his brother Chris put it best when he said, “the smallest random acts of kindness can be among the most meaningful ways for Americans to thank military veterans for their sacrifice. Whether you want to mow their lawn, babysit so they can go on a date or take a nap, or cook them a meal – if you just show them ‘thank you,’ it means a whole lot more than just saying ‘thank you.'”

Sen. Birdwell is a retired U.S. Army officer currently representing Texas Senate District 22. He was on hand to share his experience, including his harrowing tale of survival during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

“I very much appreciate the invitation to be with you today,” Birdwell said. “I really appreciate the History Channel sponsoring this and for its commitment to veterans. I want to reflect a little bit on what it means to be a veteran.”

Birdwell said when he thinks of what it takes to be a veteran three words come to his mind.

“When I hear the word veteran, I think valor, courage and sacrifice. Each of these words have a special meaning to me.”

As he addressed the audience, he said many of them were too young to remember John Wayne, and although his movies were fictitious, they always managed to bring out a very important theme. He said one of his favorite quotes from Wayne was about courage.

“John Wayne said, 'courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway,'” Birdwell said. “That's exactly what the men and women who serve in our military face everyday. Many of them have faced difficult things and they have face those things with much courage.”

Birdwell said soldiers love our freedoms, liberties and our country enough to face deprivations without hesitation.

AT the end of the program, Charter presented a $10,000 check to Heroes Project to assist in its efforts.

About Take a Vet to School

Take a Vet to School Day is a national program developed by HISTORY to link veterans with students nationwide. From class visits to school assemblies, these events provide a way for students to learn more about the history of Veterans Day. Inviting veterans to share their stories connects generations while helping young people learn about the past. More than 5,000 schools in all 50 states participated in the ‘Take a Vet to School Day’ program this year.

About Heroes Project

Heroes Project provides free in-home fitness equipment, facilitation of donated health club memberships, individualized programs, personal training and life coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Founded in 2011, Heroes Project is the vision of FITCO CEO Jason Kos and U.S. Navy Seal Team 3 Chief Chris Kyle, who believed in helping those soldiers who sacrificed much in service to our country and are still struggling with the aftermath of their duty. The organization continues its mission to support each combat veteran through personal support, family outreach and experiential therapy. For more information about Heroes Project, its offerings for combat veterans or how to nominate a hero for fitness equipment, please visit www.heroesproject.org.

About Charter

Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR) is a leading broadband communications company and the fourth largest cable operator in the United States. Charter provides a full range of advanced broadband services, including advanced Charter TV® video entertainment programming, Charter Internet® access, and Charter Phone®. Charter Business® similarly provides scalable, tailored, and cost-effective broadband communications solutions to business organizations, such as business-to-business Internet access, data networking, business telephone, video and music entertainment services, and wireless backhaul. Charter's advertising sales and production services are sold under the Charter Media® brand. More information about Charter can be found at charter.com.

About HISTORY

HISTORY®, now reaching more than 98 million homes, is the leading destination for award-winning original series and specials that connect viewers with history in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across all platforms. The network’s all-original programming slate, including scripted event programming, features a roster of hit series including American Pickers®, American Restoration™, Ax Men™, Counting Cars™, Ice Road Truckers®, Pawn Stars®, Swamp People® and Top Shot® as well as HISTORY®’s first scripted series Vikings, and epic miniseries and special programming such as The Bible and the Emmy® Award-winning Hatfields & McCoys, Gettysburg, Vietnam in HD, America The Story of Us® and 102 Minutes That Changed America. The HISTORY® website is the leading online resource for all things history, and in 2011, the United States Library of Congress selected HISTORY®’s Civil War 150 site for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War sesquicentennial visit www.history.com.

Follow Melissa on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact her at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@waxahachietx.com.