September 11, 2011 is quickly approaching and marks the ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 intentional plane crashes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York city, as well as a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Over 3,000 people died.
There will be a three day event to remember those that died on that fateful day. Friday, September 9, 2011 Puget Sound Blood Drive will host a free blood drive at the Lakewood Towne Center in the Target parking lot from 10 am to 4 pm. Those that want to donate their blood can participate. Donations go to “Vets Meet Vets” (a 5013c non-profit organization) to run their coaching program. Saturday, September 10, 2011 will host the Lakewood Salutes at the Lakewood Towne Center from 10 am to 4 pm, which is in support of the West Pierce Fire and Rescue. There will be live music and entertainment, raffle, and the “Together We Stand” concert, a showcase from 2 pm to 4 pm. Linda Lanier (Country Western and Patriotic singer and songwriter) will be on stage at 10:15 am to do a patriotic salute to our military and first responders. Pierce County Fire and Rescue will also be accepting donations for the muscular dystrophy association. Sunday, September 11, 2011 will be the 10th anniversary rider drive called “We Will Never Forget”. Those that participate in the drive can drive their car or motorcycle. The line up starts at 6 am and the first bikes leave at 8:46 am. 8:46 am which marks the significance of the first plane crash attack that occurred on September 11, 2001. Jeff Brennan, public relations officer for “Vets Meet Vets” commented, “We’re gonna have the Seafair pilots lead the ride. They’re riding; too… this is really cool.” The riders will ride to Evergreen Park in Bremerton for the 9/11 memorial site groundbreaking event that starts at noon. Jeff continued, “There’s going to be an escort from Bremerton to the Toys for Tots on 2110 S. C. Street in Tacoma.
For those that have purchased tickets for the Together We Stand 9/11 10 Year Anniversary Concert, the meet-the-artist-reception runs from 5 pm to 6:30 pm. At 7 pm the concert will start. Its at Temple Theater located at: 47 St. Helens Avenue in Tacoma with the following artists: Dr. Chuck Stevens (former member of the “Beach Boys and Monkeys”), Tey Punsalan (Billboards Top Young R & B Vocalist), Jerry Miller (former member of Moby Grape), Linda Lanier (multiple #1 Indi Country chart and patriotic recording artist), Jonathon Harris (Tacoma’s own rising country star recording artist), Tony La Stella & the Goombas (from Sinatra to The Stones).”
Jeff explained the history of “Vets Meet Vets,” “Founded in 2009 by Rod Wittmier, the mission is to end Veteran’s suicide. We set up a coaching program and people that have post traumatic, stress, homeless thoughts of suicide, and put then with a “seasoned veteran.” [There are two types of Veteran’s: an active duty Veteran; which is still in the service and a seasoned veteran is one that is out of service. It teaches these people the possibilities of what they can do and get them before they hit the “spiral” they get to a point of no return and that suicide is the only option [they feel] when in reality suicide is never an option. [We want to] catch them at the top of the spiral, where we can train them, getting them involved in community activities; a purpose in life. In combat a solider is age 17 to 29 right out of high school and the only thing they know up to that point is what they’ve learned so far, and then they have a gun in hand and are thrown in an area and shooting and killing people…Trying to protect themselves and brothers, sisters, and get out that’s all they know; there’s no real job where you’re running around shooting someone. A lot of post traumatic stress disorder…wounded…any scenario like that we try and get to them with someone like that, which has been there, done that, and seen it. For a Veteran someone that’s seen combat talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist isn’t gonna happen they wanna talk to someone who’s been there done, that, and seen it.”
This is the first year celebrating this event and Jeff is the originator of this event. He explained the purpose for organizing this event, “I went to a chili cook off at Joint Base Lewis Mc Chord and it was for the warrior transition battalion, which are people that are coming back from different conflicts (Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan) and have been injured. A lot of these guys are getting out of the service because of disabilities, post traumatic, or are injured, etc…Help transition them back to normal life. I see this gentlemen by the name of “Tony La Stella and the Goombas” and was amazed on how good they were playing because they play such a wide range of music…Had to put something together and do a concert with him…Been trying to find ways to raise money for our coaching program for Vets Meet Vets and for several months of talking with Tony we realized that there wasn’t anything going on for 9/11. Great opportunity to bring top rated singers and musicians together…kinda like the “We are the world” for Haiti. That’s what we’re doing with the song “America be strong” that was written for 9/11 so it’s gonna be the same platform a piece of song and big finale same song for 4th of July. One of songs used for the firework background music. Tony produced the music for the 4th of July fireworks event for Puget Sound on all the radio stations.”
Aside from being the creator of this event, Jeff discussed his role in the event, “I’m also the one that will be sharing my story up on stage and tell everyone what I did. Got sick when I went to the Persian Gulf War in 1992; had a nasal surgery that went bad, strokes, heart attaches, coma, post traumatic stress disorder, and pain. I was going through this and was married at the time and I didn’t think my life would get better…couldn’t walk…or….talk…or…function. My pain was so incredible. I put a 10 millimeter pistol to my head and I blacked out; that’s what saved me. That’s when I realized no amount of pain I went through would ever be more pain than my family and friends would have to endure by me committing suicide. So, from that day forward, I’ve been on a mission to help others be a good community leader and be absolutely the best person that I could possibly be.”
Jeff shared what he’s looking forward to most in regards to this event, “Getting a large group of people together in one place to have a fun evening and to remember those that lost their lives on 9/11. Here’s my phrase, “On 9/11 nearly 3,000 lost their lives and the nation responded. Today over 6,500 Veteran’s take their own lives yearly where are we now?”
Jeff mentioned that there was no dress code for the Sunday evening event and discussed details of the “after party” after the concert, “The Back stage in Tacoma no cover and the first beer is free with your ticket [admission ticket that you purchase to attend the concert or concert and reception]. The after party music is gonna be by Tacoma zone Kashmire attribute to led zeppelin. There are also 4 bars there and food for purchase.”
Jeff discussed the best thing about the event, “The best thing is we are creating a PBS special to create national awareness on Veteran suicide with community and family support we can end Veteran’s suicide.”
For more information, please visit: www.togetherwestand.info or call 1800 604-9260 or tickets can be purchased at the temple theater on the day of the event.
Jeff recommends everyone to all the events (except the after party at the Back Stage restaurant persons 21 and older only). Tickets are $28 for the concert and $58 for the concert and meet the artists’ reception. “I recommend my family and friends, this is a great opportunity to show your support for our Veteran’s, first responders, and to come out and have a great evening with great entertainment.”
Jeff also noted, “If you cannot attend the concert, and would like to give a tax deductible donation for every $300 donated by 9/10, 11 active duty military members from the wounded warrior battalion will attend the concert for free. A big thanks to Tony La Stella for producing this amazing show and for the USO (organization that puts on concerts for the military) for helping us and immediate partners from Q13 Fox and Swarner Communications.”
Show your support and purchase your ticket today. You will be honoring those that died on September 11, 2001 as well as supporting the community.
by Carly Calabrese, Tacoma.com staff