Sgt. Scott Moore of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, posted a video on YouTube in early June from his base in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, asking the actress to be his date at the Marine Corps Ball in North Carolina in November.
In an interview with Fox411 about her new movie "Friends with Benefits," which hit theaters July 22, Kunis was asked about the invitation. Her costar Justin Timberlake, who was also at the interview and, unlike Kunis, had seen the video, prodded Kunis to agree to attend the ball with Sergeant Moore.
"I'll go; I'll do it for you," she said in the interview.
If Kunis attends the Marine Corps Ball, she'll become part of a tradition of Hollywood stars entertaining US troops. While the perception may be that celebrities perform for soldiers because it's good publicity, going to a war zone poses risks that aren't found in most venues. To do so, many entertainers have donned flack-jackets instead of ball gowns.
Working with the United Service Organizations (USO), a non-profit organization dedicated to lifting the spirits of troops and their families, for decades singers, actors, and comedians have visited troops all over the world.
- In December 2010, actor and rapper Mark Wahlberg made a 36-hour visit to Afghanistan. According to Reuters, Wahlberg said, "I just wanted to go over there and spend some time with them and know that we do appreciate what they're doing, and bring well wishes and love and support from home." Reuters reported that Wahlberg wore a bullet-proof vest and battle-ready helmet while exploring the home of a Taliban drug lord who had been ousted by US troops.
- That same month, Singer Katy Perry and comedian Kathy Griffin lit up the stage at the VH1 Divas Salute The Troops show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
- Robin Williams has cracked jokes and entertained troops on five USO tours, most recently in Afghanistan in December 2010. Along for the ride was Lance Armstrong, according to ABC News.
Country music singer Toby Keith just wrapped up his ninth tour with the USO, performing throughout the Middle East. In what has become an annual trip for Keith, the tour included stops in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, and two ships at sea, according to All Access Music Group. According to the report, at Camp Liberty near Baghdad, Keith and his crew were forced to take cover as an insurgent missile struck the base about one-third of a mile from the stage where he was about to perform.
All Access also reported that at another base, Keith tweeted, "4 mortars hit close as I was about to take stage last night--we had to hunker in a bunker til all clear."
Keith partnered with the USO in creating the USO2Go program. According to Keith's website, after visiting troops in Afghanistan in 2007, Keith saw a need for some day-to-day comforts of home to be delivered to service members stationed far from main bases and USO centers. The answer was USO2Go. USO2Go sends anything from beanbag chairs, snacks, DVDs, XBoxes, laptops, musical instruments to frisbees to American troops based in remote locations.
The long tradition of stars entertaining troops goes back to comedian Bob Hope, who entertained men and women in the armed forces for more than 50 years, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Hope was a USO mainstay and beacon of, well, hope since his first radio broadcast for the USO in 1941. In 1996, Congress made Hope an Honorary Veteran, the first person to receive this honor.
In 2001, the Hope baton was passed to Wayne Newton, who was made the first Chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle. According to the USO, Newton enlisted Bill Cosby, Tom Hanks, Quincy Jones, and Sherry Lansing to serve as members of the Celebrity Circle's Executive Committee.
Newton has done 12 USO tours since 2000, including four trips to Iraq, according to Army Times.