Outback Steakhouse donates $1 million for US troops

by Bryan Salvage
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BALTIMORE – Outback Steakhouse concluded its 2011 Thanks for Giving program on June 22 by presenting a $1 million donation to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization providing emergency financial and other assistance to military families and wounded soldiers. The check was presented by Jeff Smith, Outback Steakhouse president, to Jim Knotts, president and CEO, and Amy Palmer, COO of Operation Homefront.

The program was kicked off in San Antonio at the Texas National Guard Armory where Outbackers prepared a plated lunch for 300 service members. Country music star Tim McGraw, who is a longtime supporter of the troops, was on hand during the event to express his appreciation. McGraw and Smith met with four of the families who received assistance as a direct result of Operation Homefront's ongoing support. They also visited Operation Homefront Village San Antonio – one of the organization's four transitional housing locations for wounded soldiers' families.

"The sacrifices that our troops and their families make so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in the United States is something Outback employees have recognized and appreciated since we opened our doors 23 years ago," Smith said. "As we express our sincere appreciation to those serving our country, we would also like to thank the countless Americans who rallied behind our Thanks for Giving program."

Outback’s donation to Operation Homefront is the most recent in a long history of its support of US troops. In June 2002, it launched Operation Feeding Freedom, where it sent 15 Outbackers to Afghanistan to feed American troops stationed there. Since then, more than 150 staff members have made another seven trips, serving troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf. In total, 167,000 troops have been served at numerous bases, forward operating bases and command and control locations.

"Our service members, wounded warriors and their families need support now more than ever," Knotts said. "Outback's generous donation will help these dedicated heroes know that while they are protecting us, someone back home is looking out for them and their families.
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