“Yellowstone” star Cole Hauser on helping children of fallen service members: “It’s just my way of serving”

Many people know actor Cole Houser for his role as the ruthless and loyal Rip Wheeler on the hit series “Yellowstone” on CBS parent company Paramount.

However, this Memorial Day weekend, Hauser’s dedication goes beyond the screen.

Despite his iconic cowboy portrayal on “Yellowstone,” Hauser’s personal passion lies in supporting the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that provides educational scholarships to the children of fallen service members.

“I’m a big fan of second chances. You know, for kids when they lose a family member, it’s a huge loss,” Hauser said.

Hauser’s involvement with the foundation began two decades ago, and since then, he has awarded more than 1,100 scholarships to deserving children.

“Maybe it’s just my way of serving. You know, this country, the soldiers, their families,” Hauser said.

In addition to his financial support, Hauser has also shown his commitment through personal experiences. He embarked on a USO tour in Afghanistan and made private visits to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he interacted with severely wounded service members.

Houser’s down-to-earth style, reminiscent of his “Yellowstone” character Rip Wheeler, allowed him to make real connections, even as a triple amputee.

“I walked in and I thought, ‘God, you look like a rat’s ass.’ But it made him smile, you know? And then we’d start talking and it just, you know, it broke the ice,” Hauser recalled.

Houser’s dedication to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation extends beyond serving as an assistant.

He currently sits on the charity’s board of directors and has worked with the foundation’s president, Clay Hutmacher, to expand scholarships for special operations families who lose a non-military parent.

“When they’re calculating what they’re going to do in the future, funding their children’s education is not part of the equation. We get that,” Hutmacher said.

One of the first recipients of this expanded program is retired Green Beret Lou Hoke, whose two children received scholarships. Hawick deployed overseas while his wife pursued her dream of becoming a midwife using her military tuition assistance funds. Tragically, shortly after graduation, he was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Left as a single father with no savings for his children’s education, Havoc was relieved when the foundation stepped in to help him.

“It feels like love,” Havoc said. “And to have an organization and supporters who care about kids and their futures that they’ve never met. I mean. It’s love.”

Hauser himself understands the importance of this relief, comparing it to taking a thousand pounds off his back.

Through his involvement in the organization, Hauser aims to ease the burden on military families and carry on the legacy of his grandfather, Milton Sperling, a World War II Marine who was also a Hollywood producer and screenwriter.

“I think that’s as good as it gets as a human being, like the human element of wanting to help. Just seeing somebody go through a moment of grace like that. It’s like, ‘Ah.’ Kind of,” Hauser said.

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