|Little Anthony and the Imperials helped launch the first Valentines for Veterans concert. This year they will perform in Baltimore on February 14.|
As Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends Little Anthony and the Imperials began to play a patriotic song, the entire crowd stood up to sing along — lighting up the theater with their flashing lapel pin flags.
This is a moment Kay Carpenito remembers from 2008's Valentines for Veterans concert in Prescott, Arizona.
For the past three years, Kay has helped organize the special concert as a way to bring the community together and thank Veterans — such as her husband — with a special night of recognition and free entertainment. Kay is the wife of a disabled World War II Veteran and has volunteered for the VA for 22 years.
The Valentines for Veterans Concert originated in Prescott when the chief voluntary service officer wanted to do more to bring happiness to injured Veterans and their families. He met a hospitalized Vet and his young family who were having a rough time spending the holiday in a sterile room away from home and realized a concert could bring the community together for a lively musical event.
"It's a really wonderful patriotic thing for the community," explained Carpenito.
Free Tickets to Eleven Concerts
In 2010 the concert has expanded to eleven cities across the country. The shows are scheduled from February 6 to February 19 and tickets are free. Priority seating is given to hospitalized Veterans from nearby medical centers and domiciliary homes.
The Prescott concert takes place on Friday, February 12, with musical guest, Lee Greenwood, best known for his hit song, "God Bless the USA."
"We are really pleased to be able to bring this to our community," said Ame Callahan, manager of VA Voluntary Service in Prescott. She anticipates 400 Veterans from the area plus 200 hospitalized Veterans and their families will attend.
"The concert is a terrific idea. I get to take my wife to the program and Lee Greenwood is an exceptionally good singer," commented Vietnam Veteran James C. Burg.
Burg has volunteered at the Prescott VA for 16 years and dedicates about 40 hours of work each week. Motivated by the help he received as an injured Vietnam Vet, James assists with escort and front desk services.
|A volunteer helps a hospitalized Veteran get situated before the concert in Cleveland last year.|
"You get your best help when you help other people."
Volunteers like Burg and Carpenito are noteworthy assets to VA medical facilities because they do a lot to make programs like the Valentines for Veterans concerts happen. The Prescott VA Medical Center has greatly benefitted from the help of volunteers. In 2009, they received assistance from 600 volunteers, resulting in 99,000 of donated hours worked.
"Volunteering is a tremendous way to go. You get your best help when you help other people," said Burg.
"VA's goal of informing America's Veterans of VA programs and services is a very important part of the outreach going on through the concert series," said VA Voluntary Service Director, Laura Balun. "We want citizens to come enjoy a great show and learn more about volunteer opportunities available with VA."
The Valentines for Veterans concerts are made possible with the support of volunteers, local community sponsors, and the VA's partnership with Help Hospitalized Veterans. Featured musical guests this year will include the Chi-Lites, Aaron Tippin, The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, Lee Greenwood, and Little Anthony and the Imperials.
Find a concert near you: http://www.stlouis.va.gov/images/ValentinesforVeteransConcertVenues.pdf
Prescott's event: http://www.prescott.va.gov/news/events.asp#salute
By Megan Tyson, VA Staff Writer