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In Honor of Veterans Day: Saluting TV Characters With Military Backgrounds

Toni Trucks as Lisa Davis, Max Thieriot as Clay Spenser, Neil Brown Jr. as Ray Perry, David Boreanaz as Jason Hayes, Jessica Paré as Mandy Ellis, AJ Buckley as Sonny Quinn, and Judd Lormand as Lt. Cmdr. Eric Blackburn in SEAL Team.

Photo Credit: Eric Ray Davidson/CBS.

On Nov. 11, we celebrate the brave men and women who have served our country—and the fictional "veterans" who have graced our small screens.

By Nate Millado

Every November, the nation comes together to honor the brave veterans of the armed forces. To anyone who has served our country: We thank you. Many of our favorite TV characters boast some impressive military credentials—and have been forever changed by their experiences on the field.

Sam Hanna (NCIS: Los Angeles)

Special Agent Sam Hanna in camo holding a rifle

LL COOL J as special agent Sam Hanna in NCIS: Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS.

Although his father was a colonel in the Marines, Sam Hanna (LL COOL J) opted to serve in the Navy instead—much to his dad's chagrin. As a member of SEAL Team 6, he went on missions in Afghanistan, Chad, and Iraq; he was captured, tortured, and buried alive in Bosnia before being rescued by his unit.

Season 12 of NCIS: Los Angeles premieres Sunday, Nov. 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS and CBS All Access.

Penelope Alvarez (One Day at a Time)

Penelope Alvarez horsing around with her Army pals

Justina Machado (center) plays Army vet Penelope Alvarez on One Day at a Time.

Photo Credit: YouTube.

One Day at a Time matriarch Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) is a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, where she was deployed as a medic in Afghanistan.

Stream select episodes of One Day at a Time on CBS.com. Watch all of Season 4 via the Pop Now app.

Thomas Magnum (Magnum P.I.)

Thomas Magnum in a prison cell

Jay Hernandez plays former prisoner of war Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I.

Photo Credit: Karen Neal/CBS.

Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) is an ex–Navy SEAL and former POW in Afghanistan who repurposed his military know-how as a private eye in Hawaii.

Season 3 of Magnum P.I. premieres Friday, Dec. 4 at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Danny Reagan (Blue Bloods)

Danny Reagan holding a mug

Donnie Wahlberg as Danny Reagan in Blue Bloods.

Photo Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS.

Decorated Marine Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) took a leave of absence from the NYPD to serve two tours in the Iraq War. He saw combat in Fallujah, but sadly was the only member of his platoon to come home alive.

Season 11 of Blue Bloods premieres Friday, Dec. 4 at 10/9c on CBS and CBS All Access. Catch up now on CBS All Access.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS)

NCIS special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in Afghanistan

Gibbs (Mark Harmon) travels to Afghanistan to search for a missing Marine in NCIS.

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS.

Before he became an NCIS special agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent several years with the military police, then rose up the ranks and became a scout sniper. Gibbs saw several overseas deployments, including to Panama as part of Operation Just Cause and to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

Season 18 of NCIS premieres on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access. Catch up now on CBS All Access.

Steve McGarrett (Hawaii Five-0)

Steve McGarrett in full Navy uniform saluting

Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-0.

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Hawaii Five-0's Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) is a former Navy SEAL and decorated war vet. He served for six years (four in Afghanistan) before transferring to Naval Intelligence. Among his many accolades: a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Navy Expert Rifleman Medal.

Stream all seasons of Hawaii Five-0 on CBS All Access.

Damon Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries)

\u200bDamon Salvatore as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War

Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) as a Confederate soldier in The Vampire Diaries.

Photo Credit: Annette Brown/2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Bad boy vamp Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) is a veteran twice over on The CW hit series The Vampire Diaries: He fought in the Civil War for the Confederate army and in World War II with the U.S. Army.

Stream The Vampire Diaries on Netflix.

Bravo Team (SEAL Team)

SEAL Team in uniform

AJ Buckley, Neil Brown Jr., David Boreanaz, and Max Thieriot.

Photo Credit: Eric Ray Davidson/CBS.

Although Veterans Day largely recognizes living heroes for their sacrifice, it's also a day to pay tribute to all who have served this country, in wartime and peace. That certainly extends to the fearless members of the Navy SEALs.

On television, Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) leads his elite Tier One team on clandestine high-stakes missions, knowing the toll it takes on them and their families.

Season 4 of SEAL Team premieres Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access. Catch up on CBS All Access.

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