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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Concert aims to spread veteran suicide awareness

    In the U.S., approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day — a statistic that the 26th Annual Jammin’ for Vets concert aims to change.

    According to data released by the Department of Veteran Affairs in February, that’s a suicide every 65 minutes. The Jammin’ for Vets concert, formerly known as Nam Jam, strives to provide support to all members of the military and especially to young men and women returning home and coping with the repercussions of war. The goal is now for Vietnam veterans to serve as mentors to those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, said Director Steven Kreamer.

    The concert is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Rillito Downs on Saturday, and will feature a number of bands, a variety of food, and various activities for veterans and their guests, including a motorcycle rally. The event is expected to draw in 2,500 to 3,500 guests Kreamer said.

    Among the musical guests for the event are Lee Ann Savage, Chuck Wagon and the Wheel Chairs, Angle Perez, East to West, Five Way Street and several other volunteer groups.

    “Jammin’ for Vets will bring together all veterans from all eras,” said Juan “Sarge” Rodriguez, spokesperson of Jammin’ for Vets and a Vietnam veteran. “We want to get all of the veterans together to have a good time and to bring together all of their families and friends.”

    Several organizations will be available for veterans to utilize including the VA Center, the Coming Home Center for homeless veterans, Vets for Vets, Red Cross, and the VA Hospital.

    “It’s really going to be an outreach thing for veterans to come in without being intimidated and get them into the system so when they come out here they know what to expect from us,” said Dan Ross, president of the sponsoring organization, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 106.

    The event, different from past years, will be free to veterans and all members of the community this year.

    “In the past, it’s always cost $5, but we think that if a vet needs help they shouldn’t have to pay to get in for it,” Kreamer said. “It’s a great concert for the public, but it’s also resources, so if the vet needs them, they’re going to be present.”

    All proceeds from the event will go to homeless shelters, the VA hospital and people in the community who are in need.

    “You’ve got to be able to get the community to come in and connect with the veteran community,” Ross said. “They need to be able to see the needs that are there among the veterans and be able to meet that need may that be medical, financial or mental. We can reach a veteran and help somebody, especially somebody that has suicidal thoughts and be able to show them that there is life.”

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