Kevin Costner performs at Reagan Library in support of veterans

Actor Kevin Costner realizes firsthand the tremendous impact war can leave on families. His brother served in Vietnam.

“We understand the sacrifice and probably will never completely understand, but we are with our soldiers,” Costner said.

A large crowd gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum on Sunday for a fundraising dinner to benefit SEAL — Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation — as well as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The event was held in the Air Force One Pavilion and featured live entertainment from emcee comedian Adam Carolla and from Costner and his band, Modern West.

The evening offered a silent auction, including a basketball signed by Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat in 1998, a signed jersey by members of the Los Angeles Galaxy and a football signed by “Blindside” star Quinton Aaron.

Speaker Ken Robinson provided a sobering look at the impact of war. Robinson is vice chairman of Threat Deterrence, a organization that helps tackle challenges with social networking, energy, security, critical infrastructure protection and more.

He spoke of the large numbers of veterans being discharged and the dwindling financial resources. Cost of living allowances for military families could be reduced, Robinson said.

“A man has to know that his back is covered and he doesn’t have to worry that his family is going to have a place to sleep and food to eat and that’s a question mark right now and it shouldn’t be that way in the greatest country in the world, but it is,” he said.

Robinson, who has dabbled in Hollywood as creator of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama “E-Ring,” has taken on the challenge of helping homeless veterans in Los Angeles. He said there are 7,000 members of the armed forces homeless in Los Angeles County.

Speaker Michael E. Thornton, a retired Navy SEAL, followed and told of his actions on his last tour of Vietnam. He received the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for rescuing his senior officer, Lt. Thomas R. Norris.

Carolla had an interesting back and forth with Robinson. Carolla took the stage to begin the program and stood by as the American flag was presented, a glass of wine in his hand.

Robinson criticized Carolla, saying, “I also know how to behave when the flag is presented, and I don’t do it with wine in my hand. I do it with my hand over my heart. It’s not a joke and tonight is serious.”

Carolla returned to the stage later on and offered his own retort.

“I didn’t know this was going to turn into an AA meeting, but all right,” he said. “This is a huge intervention, and I wasn’t aware of it.”

Costner and Modern West closed out the evening with an hourlong performance. Some of the songs featured themes relating to the impact of war.

The song “When the Angels Came Down” involves the comfort angels provide the victims of war. The band received a letter from a woman whose son was killed by a machine gun. He bled out on the way to the hospital. She had nightmares about it, but told the band that the song gave her comfort.

“This room has experienced loss,” Costner told the audience. “It’s clear, it’s heavy and it’s real and you move on but trying to describe this moment that you never get over is what this song really is about.”

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