Senator and guest will be available to media prior to the President’s address

WASHINGTON, DC – In what has become an annual tradition, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will host an Illinois service member or veteran as his guest for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Major Gerry Sharp – a Buffalo Grove, Illinois native and Northern Illinois University graduate – has served in the United States Army for twenty-six years. In his current position as Director of the Warrior and Family Coordination Cell at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Major Sharp coordinates efforts to support Wounded Warriors and their families at Walter Reed. Major Sharp will also attend the Secretary of the Senate’s dinner immediately preceding the President’s address.

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Durbin has invited Illinois service members or veterans who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as his guests to the State of the Union since 2005 when he hosted Army Major Tammy Duckworth. Before the Secretary of the Senate’s dinner, Durbin will hold a private meeting with Major Gerry Sharp who is the 18th Illinois service member or veteran that Durbin has hosted for the State of the Union.

“Major Sharp has dedicated his life to the service of others,” Durbin said. “He has served in the United States Army for more than two decades, and has deployed in two separate conflicts, first as a radio officer and then as a combat nurse. Major Sharp is now using those experiences to help to address his fellow soldiers’ ongoing, unseen wounds of war in his position as Director of the Warrior and Family Coordination Cell. I am humbled and honored to have Major Sharp join me tomorrow night at President Obama’s final State of the Union.”

****Opportunities for b-roll of the meeting and interviews following the meeting will be available. Media should contact Maria McElwain at (202) 224-7028 or maria_mcelwain@durbin.senate.gov for more details.***

Major Sharp was born and raised in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. After graduating from high school, Major Sharp enlisted in the U.S. Army on Active Duty as a radio operator. After completing his training he was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and deployed overseas as part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

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In 1992, Major Sharp transferred to the 12th Special Forces Group of the Army Reserves in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He received a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship and graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2000 with his Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

In 2004, Sharp deployed to Baghdad, Iraq working in the Emergency Department of the 86th Combat Support Hospital. While he was stationed there, the 86th Combat Support Hospital was featured in the HBO documentary Baghdad ER, which was awarded four Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for its depiction of a military hospital at the height of the Iraq War.

Major Sharp currently serves as the Director of the Warrior and Family Coordination Cell (WFFC) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. In his role as the WFCC Director, Major Sharp oversees all trips, events, visits, and donations to Walter Reed Wounded Warriors outpatients and their families. Major Sharp and his department work with the White House, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, Army and Air Force, Members of Congress, and more than 550 organizations to execute up to 100 events per month in support of Wounded Warriors and their families.

Throughout his military career, Major Sharp’s other assignments have included: Fort Gordon, Georgia; Director of the U.S. Army Practical Nurse Course Phase 1, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Deputy Director U.S. Army Practical Nurse Course Phase 2 and Warrior Transition Brigade Senior Nurse Case Manager at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center-Bethesda, Maryland.

Major Sharp’s awards include: the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (5), The Army Achievement Medal (5), the Parachutist badge, and various other awards and decorations.

Major Sharp and his wife, Amy, are the proud parents of five children. Their oldest daughter currently serves in the U.S. Air Force.

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