A benefit concert to raise funds to support the ongoing needs of wounded veterans in the Tri-Valley will be held tonight at Wente Vineyards, a broad-based effort by Pleasanton Military Families and local veterans' organizations with a host of corporate sponsors.
The concert at 7:30 p.m. will feature singer and songwriter Kenny Loggins and American Idol finalist Lacey Brown, with the event to be hosted by Joe Mantegna, star of "Criminal Minds."
Concert tickets are $99, and up to $249 for premium seating and a buffet meal at Wente. Net proceeds will go to seriously injured veterans to help cover their ongoing costs which continue long after military compensation for hospital and treatment ends.
George Bowen, whose Marine son Andy recently returned to Pleasanton after a seven-month deployment aboard the USS New Orleans, and Doug Miller, past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 in Pleasanton, have been the key promoters of the Wente Concert fundraiser, enlisting support from the San Francisco Giants, Safeway, Chevron, and scores of other local businesses.
The VFW, Pleasanton Military Families, American Legion Post 237 in Pleasanton and the Valley Veterans Foundation are collaborating in promoting and organizing the event.
Among the wounded warriors who will be introduced at the concert, and who will benefit from its receipts, is Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Ross of Livermore. He lost both of his legs while on patrol in Afghanistan in March, 2011, when he stepped on an IED. Only recently, after 220 surgeries and extensive hospitalization and therapy, has Jason been able to return home to be with his family and two daughters.
Last April, he visited Livermore's Granada High School, where he graduated in 2001, receiving a hero's welcome from the faculty and students.
Jason's father, George Ross, posts blogs almost daily reporting on his son's progress in regaining mobility and normal family life, as normal as it can be for a double amputee. It's clear in reading these blogs that wounded warriors have lifelong challenges and major expenses long after military care has been completed.
The Wente concert's non-profit sponsor is the Stand Up & Play Foundation, a national organization providing mobility devices to wounded troops as well as the disabled public. It provided Jason with a Paramobile, a new device that allows amputees to "stand tall" once more. Unlike a wheelchair, it elevates to allow users to remain upright while also increasing blood circulation and stretching the tendons to build overall body strength.
It's ongoing medical and technical breakthroughs such as the Paramobile that wounded warriors need, and they also need financial aid to obtain these devices and pay for follow-through care.
That's the goal of concert organizers, to raise funds at this event, to raise community awareness of the needs of wounded troops and veterans, and to continue helping those with service injuries with the financial needs not met by government provided benefits.
Miller and Bowen said local veterans who qualify for the Tri-Valley Wounded Warriors program can submit applications for grants from the concert proceeds. Grants made will be based on the severity of their injury and financial needs directly related to the service injury. The applications must be received no later than Nov. 1. Grants will be evaluated and awarded no later than March 1, 2014.
Recipients of grants must currently live in, or have in the past lived in the Tri-Valley area for a period of at least five years, an area which Miller said includes Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Alamo, Blackhawk, Camino Tassajara, Diablo, Norris Canyon, and in the three valleys, Amador Valley, Livermore Valley and San Ramon Valley.
Grant decisions will be made at the sole discretion of an advisory group made up of representatives from VFW Post 6298, American Legion Post 237, Pleasanton Military Families and the Valley Veterans Foundation of Livermore.
Tickets for the Wente Concert can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketcertforwounded.com. More information is available at http://ConcertForWounded.com/