Jon Stewart returned to television on Friday night ― not to crack jokes about President Donald Trump, but for a cause he’s been championing for some time: supporting America’s military service members and veterans.
The former host of “The Daily Show” joined ESPN anchor Hannah Storm to co-host SportsCenter’s coverage of the Warrior Games live from Chicago’s United Center. The multisport event, put on by the Department of Defense, features more than 260 wounded, ill and injured active-duty and veteran service members.
“These are athletes that refuse to define themselves by the worst thing that ever happened to them, but define themselves by how they reacted to it,” Stewart said on air. “And that’s what’s so impressive about them.”
Stewart was instrumental in bringing the Warrior Games to a televised audience. He and his son attended last year’s event, held at the United States Military Academy.
“It was an incredible experience,” Stewart said. “On the drive home, I just kept saying, ‘The cameras should be here, these are people that this country needs to see right now, ESPN should be all over that.’ And my son said, ‘So why don’t you call them?’ So I did.”
Among those who joined Storm and Stewart during Friday’s broadcast was U.S. Navy veteran Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Shannon. According to the Morris Herald-News, Shannon has complex regional pain syndrome resulting from a leg injury, and is considering amputation.
“For me, Warrior Games was something I wasn’t supposed to be able to do. I wasn’t supposed to be able to run again,” he told ESPN. “You start falling into that little dark hole. Warrior Games brings you out of that hole. It gives you something to fight for.”
On air Friday, Stewart said it’s also important to remember the sacrifices of military service member’s families.
“I think, oftentimes, we forget the burden of the military falls on a very small percentage of Americans,” he said. “So the veteran and the veteran’s family really bear that burden, oftentimes alone. And when you first come back from the war, it can be really isolating. And if you come back with an injury, visible or otherwise, even more so.”
“For every athlete you see here, there are a thousand people standing behind them, still struggling to overcome it,” Stewart added. “This is a chance for the nation to show our attention and our appreciation for all they’ve been through.”
For more information about the Warrior Games, which conclude on Saturday, click here.