Josh Duhamel Is Helping Injured Veterans—and Teaching His Son to Be “Compassionate and Kind”

This Memorial Day weekend, Josh Duhamel is focused on giving back. In honor of Military Appreciation Month, the Transformers star has teamed up with GMC and veteran support program Building for America’s Bravest for their #enlistme campaign, which is responsible for building smart homes for severely injured veterans. It’s a cause that Duhamel has always supported—and when he was first approached to become an ambassador for the campaign, the actor didn’t have to think twice.

“GMC came to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of this program, and the more I really researched it, the more I loved it and felt like it was the perfect sort of partnership,” Duhamel told InStyle Thursday. “Not only have I driven a GMC forever, but I’ve always done whatever I can to help the veterans come home—injured or otherwise.”

And the #enlistme campaign is helping in a major way. “What we’re doing is raising money to build homes that are adapted to these severely injured servicemen and women, and allowing them back their independence to live a normal life,” Duhamel said. “As Americans, I think we owe that to them. They basically sacrificed everything for us, so it’s the least we can do.”

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Since he first began working on the campaign, Duhamel has taken a very hands-on approach. “I recently went to Jacksonville, Alabama, to meet Ben Tomlinson and his family,” he said. “I got a firsthand look at what something like this does to a family and how it affects them.” Not surprisingly, Duhamel found the visit to be extremely impactful. “It really is inspiring—not because of what he went through, but how he’s persevered after and the positive attitude he has towards everything even in the face of this severe injury,” he said. “And that, to me, is the most inspiring thing about it: that this is a guy who now can be independent.”

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After meeting a few more injured veterans—and recording mini documentary-style films during his visits, which you can view below—Duhamel only became more impressed by their positive outlook. “For a lot of people, this could be the end,” he said. “This could be a reason to sort of lay over and not do anything. But instead, they’re actually inspiring people to do better and to help. It’s incredible—they’re heroes.”

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As for how he plans to teach his own son, 2-year-old Axl with wife Fergie, about the cause, well, Duhamel hasn’t quite gotten there yet. “He’s still too young for that,” said the actor. “I think in general, it’s more about learning to respect everyone—no matter who they are—and having him understand that not everybody has some of the things that you have. It’s important just to share, and to help, and to pray, and do all of these things to build a foundation.” Ultimately, the couple’s parenting goals are simple. “We’re just trying to raise a kid who’s compassionate and kind,” said Duhamel. “And from there, he’ll make his own decisions.”

Learn more about the campaign here and check out the video of Duhamel’s visit to Ben Tomlinson’s smart home above.

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