Cher: ‘I don’t have to be for this war
to support the troops’
Singer in Landstuhl to visit wounded
Stars and Stripes
European edition, Sunday, July 16, 2006
visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical
Center on Wednesday, Cher sat down with
Stars and Stripes for 15 minutes to
explain why she made the trip, how she
can be against the war in Iraq but for
the troops, and why she’s going to Iraq
— just not during summertime.
It didn’t take
much prying to get the timeless singer
and Oscar-winning actress to speak her
mind. Below are excerpts from the
interview. United Service Organizations
helped coordinate Cher’s visit to
recorded the “If I Could Turn Back Time”
video on the USS Missouri in that
you’ve given $130,000 to Operation
Helmet. You’ve been to Walter
Reed Army Medical Center. Now you’re
here at Landstuhl. What’s your
connection to the military? Why do you
actually not sure. I didn’t start out to
do it. I told these guys a story that
happened to me when I was back in the
Vietnam days where I got this MIA
(missing in action) bracelet. I wore it
for a long time. Almost the whole time I
was doing “The Sonny and Cher Show.” My
guy was named Lieutenant Hayden Lockhart
Jr. I just wore it. I’m not even sure my
whole heart was in it. I just really
started wearing it because it was kind
of the thing to do. And then, I kind of
got into it. …
And then I met
him. He came on the show, and I got to
give him back the bracelet. So since
then, I started going to hospitals.
There’s a VA (Veterans Affairs) hospital
in California. Then I was on tour and
went to Walter Reed. Then, I was totally
about when was that?
A year and a
half ago, something like that. I got
involved in the Intrepid Fund (which
will construct a training center for
troops disabled during operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq). I couldn’t
believe they were having a hard time
getting money for that. So I kind of got
involved in that. And then, one of my
dearest friends is a man named Lou
Dobbs, who has a TV show on CNN. He and
I were talking about the war all the
time. Even though we had different views
on it, I love him. So it would be
interesting for me to get his views as
opposed to arguing.
Walter Reed, then Bethesda (home to the
National Naval Medical Center) and
Walter Reed again — after meeting these
guys and the women too — I’m just so
shocked that there are still people in
the country like that because a lot of
the kids that I come in contact with,
they’re still very — it’s not exactly
that they’re selfish; they just don’t
have any concept of what the kids in the
military are doing and what it’s about
to actually go someplace where you could
possibly lose your life.
that I’ve seen at Walter Reed and the
things that I’ve seen at Bethesda are
much worse than the things I saw in the
Vietnam times. There are more of them
that I actually have come in contact
with, and the injuries are so bad.
talked to Dr. (Bob) Meaders — the whole
thing about the helmet fund. I just got
involved. Then I went to
Washington, D.C., and it just keeps
going. I met somebody there. I don’t
know who is he is.
commander) Col. (Bryan) Gamble, maybe?
He must be a
big guy because everybody was like,
“Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.” Yeah. I
was too stupid to know, but he was like,
“Cher, you’ve got to come to so and so.”
I’m like, “Alright.” And here I am.
your impression of the troops here
you’ve talked to?
different than the other ones I’ve
talked to. They want to get better to
get back to their unit. The main thing
that people say is they want to get
better. They want to go back. Obviously,
I can’t speak for them, but it seems to
me that going back to their buddies is
more important than almost anything
else. Going back to their group. Going
back to their unit. Going back to their
friends. It happened today and it
happened a lot at Walter Reed.
quoted that you’re against the war in
Iraq but for the troops. Explain that.
Help me understand that. How can you be
against the war but for the troops?
I don’t have
to be for this war to support the troops
because these men and women do what they
think is right. They do what they’re
told to do. They do it with a really
good heart. They do the best they can.
They don’t ask for anything.
They just do
what they’re supposed to do. So, my beef
is not with them at all. I want to go to
Baghdad; I’m really excited about doing
that. I don’t want to go in the summer,
however. I want to go when it cools down
a little bit.…
plan in the works right now?
It’s hard. I
was supposed to be brought here by the
congressmen, but if I waited for them, I
wouldn’t be here. I really came because
(Col. Gamble) said come over there. I
want to go to Baghdad and this
congressman asked me if I wanted to go.
I said yes. `
Will you do
any performing there?
and going to meet the guys. I’d like to
go outside of the Green Zone. I’d like
to go to other places. …
you do that?
It would be
really exciting for me to go and see
people who don’t expect to see anybody.
Also, it seems really — when I say this
it’s going to sound dumb — but it seems
like the least you could do. People are
there. They’re fighting. Even though I
don’t believe in the war, if they’re
there, they’re fighting, it seems like
it would be a good place to be.
Talk about Operation Helmet and what the
goal is there.
Dr. Meaders was just trying to do
something for his grandson and then for
his grandson’s squad. People started
hearing about it. I guess other squads …
were in contact with them and that’s
when he formed the thing. He could no
longer afford it by himself and just
started getting donations.
I’m very disappointed in the amount of
support that the soldiers are getting
from the people back home. It’s kind of
like it’s just a thing you hear on the
news, and nobody does anything. Where is
expect to see any more military-centric
music videos with you wearing
think those days are over for me. It
just happened that we were on that boat,
and it was great. All these sailors were
so funny because they all kept calling
me “ma’am” as well. It was so weird.
Here I am almost naked with all these
young sailors, calling me “ma’am.”
Actually, we ended up getting along
great and laughing the whole time.
… I can’t speak for everyone, but
everyone seems to be against the war but
not realizing that that’s not good
enough. You’ve got to do something
besides just be against it. You’ve got
to do some helping as well. People have
got to get their [expletive] together.