Kellie Pickler to Receive First-Ever Chris Kyle Patriot Award
Kellie Pickler is receiving recognition for her support of U.S. military members. The eight-time USO Tour veteran is set to be honored as the first recipient of the Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award.
The award, formerly the Operation Troop Aid Patriot Award, was renamed this year in honor of Kyle, the deceased Navy SEAL who was the subject of the Oscar-winning film American Sniper.
"I ... am ... wow," Pickler tells Rolling Stone Country. "I think it will be by far the most incredible thing I've been able to be a part of in my career, absolutely. We have worked with the USO for years, and it's something that means so much to me."
After performing the national anthem at LP Field during the 2015 CMA Music Festival on June 13, Pickler will be presented with the award by Kyle's parents, Wayne and Deby Kyle. The singer has many friends and family in the armed forces, and she says that working with the USO isn't about getting recognition.
"I didn't get in line to work with the USO and the Wounded Warrior Foundation and all the other organizations to be patted on the back for it," she says. "So for me, that evening is not about me. It's about all of our servicemen and -women and their families and the sacrifices they've made ... I just think it's so important that our servicemen and -women and our veterans and their families know that what they do, we don’t take for granted. It will be a special night, and I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also a little nervous.
"My number one goal that night is to make sure [Kyle's parents] and his wife know that we do not take what Chris did for granted," Pickler adds.
Pickler is known for supporting causes that are close to her heart -- she shaved her head to support a friend who was going through treatment for breast cancer in 2012 -- but she says that working with troops overseas has changed her life.
"Of course we love that moment of performing and being on stage and looking out and seeing a sea of soldiers or Marines or airmen ... but I think the best moments are before the show when we go to the chow house and have a meal and just talk with the soldiers and hear about where they came from," she says. "I've met so many soldiers who just watched the birth of their firstborn over Skype, you know? ... Being in Kandahar on Christmas and having a soldier say, 'Hey, will you watch my son open his Christmas present?' It's like, 'Are you kidding me? Of course. Let's sit and watch them open every present.' I wish I could bottle that feeling and give it to people."
In addition to getting ready to receive the Chris Kyle Patriot Award, Pickler is gearing up for the debut of her new reality TV show, tentatively titled I Love Kellie Pickler, which will follow her life with husband Kyle Jacobs.
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