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‘Army Wives’ take command - TV celebrities visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center

The cast of the Lifetime cable network drama “Army Wives” graced the red carpet at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, to help kick off the July Fourth week and salute service-members’ often-forgotten spouses.

“We wanted to hold a screening at Walter Reed because we feel so strongly about honoring the strength and sacrifice of the real military families who inspire our show ‘Army Wives’ and our nation,” Maria Grasso, senior vice president of series for Lifetime Networks, said in a news release.

The United Service Organizations, the Army and other organizations organized the red-carpet event, where cast members Sally Pressman and Brigid Brannagh, and Tanya Biank — author of “Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage,” the book upon which the series is based — joined dozens of real military spouses in a tribute to their everyday roles in military life.

“I’m here because it means a ton,” said Brannagh, who plays Pamela Moran in the series.

She added that it’s an honor to be able to bring more attention to military spouses, by stating, “It just means a lot to be here. All the soldiers, and the Army families and military families, what they do on our behalf is just so unbelievable.”

Also strolling across the red carpet were Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and his wife. Although the general confessed he hasn’t seen the show, his wife, Sheila, said she hasn’t missed an episode.

“Right prior to its debut, I traveled around talking to Army families,” Mrs. Casey said. “They were peppering me with questions about this, because there’s great concern about how we would be depicted. And so I did start to watch from the beginning, because I knew I was going to be asked questions.”

Military spouses and families had the opportunity to have their pictures taken with the stars and to talk with them and share their stories.

“I don’t go through a day without an Army wife coming up to me and really opening up and telling me a story — like an intimate story — about their life, about their day-to-day,” said Pressman, who plays Roxy LeBlanc on the show. “And I’m speechless and so unbelievably honored and so grateful.”

Mitja Ng-Baumhackl, husband of a Navy officer, also attended the red carpet event. “It’s actually been a real adventure,” Ng-Baumhackl said of being a military spouse. “And there certainly have been a lot of challenges. The ‘Army Wives’ show actually is so great because it’s very authentic at raising those challenges.”

Ng-Baumhackl said some of his challenges as a husband have been a little different from those a wife faces. But, he added that he still faces the same challenges that military wives have faced for years, such as finding steady employment and packing up and moving across the country, all the while making sure the kids have an easy transition as well.

After the red carpet arrivals had concluded, the crowd joined Deborah Spera, “Army Wives” executive producer, and Lee Woodruff, wife of ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, who was injured in Iraq, for a panel discussion. The Woodruffs are co-authors of a book titled “In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing.”

Lee Woodruff described her experience as an “army wife.” Although she is not the spouse of a service-member, she said, she has experienced some of the same things military spouses experience, especially after her husband was seriously injured by a roadside bomb while he was embedded with troops in Iraq.

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