Many people know actor Cole Hauser for his role as the ruthless and loyal Rip Wheeler on the hit series “Yellowstone” on Paramount, the parent company of CBS.
However, this Memorial Day weekend, Hauser’s dedication extends beyond the screen.
Despite his portrayal of the quintessential cowboy on “Yellowstone,” Hauser’s personal passion lies in supporting the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that provides educational scholarships to 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 for them,” Hauser said.
Hauser’s involvement with the foundation began two decades ago, and since then, it 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.
Beyond his financial contributions, 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 connected with severely wounded service members.
Hauser’s down-to-earth style, reminiscent of his “Yellowstone” character Rip Wheeler, allowed him to establish genuine connections, even with a triple amputee.
“I walked in and I thought, ‘God, you look like a rat’s ass.’ But it got him to smile, you know? And then we would start talking and it was just, you know, it broke the ice,” Hauser recalled.
Hauser’s dedication to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation goes beyond serving as a supporter.
He currently sits on the charity’s board of directors and has worked closely with the foundation’s president, Clay Hutmacher, to expand scholarships to special operations families who lose a non-military parent.
“When they’re calculating what they’re going to do in the future, funding of their children’s education is not part of that equation. We got that,” Hutmacher said.
One of the first recipients of this expanded program is retired Green Beret Lou Howk, whose two children received scholarships. Howk deployed overseas while his wife pursued her dream of becoming a midwife using his military tuition assistance funds. Tragically, shortly after graduation, she was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Left as a single father with no savings for his children’s education, Howk found solace when the foundation stepped in to support them.
“It feels like love,” Howk said. “And to have an organization and supporters that care about children and their future whom they’ve never met. I mean. It’s love.”
Hauser himself understands the significance of this relief, comparing it to removing a thousand pounds off one’s 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 it’s as good as it gets as a human, like just the human element of Wanting to help. Just to see somebody go through that moment of like grace. It’s like, ‘ah,'” Hauser said.