Concert Raises Money for Veterans

By Carmen L. Burgess
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2006 - In honor of Veterans Day, the American Freedom Foundation hosted a star-studded concert here last night to raise money for wounded men and women of the U.S. military.

The event was broadcast live via the Pentagon Channel to 350 military installations in 177 countries, and featured country music performers, actors, athletes and dignitaries.

Country artists Darryl Worley, Mark Wills and Rodney Atkins brought the crowd of thousands to their feet with their patriotic songs that have frequented the tops of music charts. Actress Karri Turner, best known from her role as Lt. Harriet Sims on the CBS drama "JAG," and World Wrestling Entertainment Champion John Bradshaw Layfield, hosted the event. Actor and comedian Henry Cho, USO Liberty Belles and the Lake Highland Academy Singers, a children's group from Orlando, Fla., also entertained the audience.

Proceeds from the concert went to two non-profit organizations: Homes for Our Troops and Operation Second Chance. Both organizations are committed to modifying or building housing to accommodate disabled veterans in addition to aiding in the rehabilitation of wounded warriors.

Homes for Our Troops and the American Freedom Foundation are both team members of America Supports You, a Department of Defense program dedicated to showcasing support from the American people and the corporate sector for the nation's men and women in uniform.

"This event gets everyone here to know what we do," said John Gonsalves, president of Homes for Our Troops. "This just helps us to further our mission of building more homes for our well-deserving veterans."

Gonsalves said the $25,000 donated from event proceeds will help his organization meet its goal of completing four more homes for disabled vets in time for the holidays. That will make a total of 26 homes he has either built or remodeled for troops returning from war since becoming an ASY team member in March 2004.

This is the third year of the American Freedom Festival, said retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley, event co-chairman. "In addition to donating money to these two organizations tonight, the America Freedom Foundation has also donated 20 computers and 250 free online hours to area military hospitals."

"It is the mission of (the foundation) to honor our veterans of America's armed forces and raise money and awareness for various veterans' organizations," said Tilley. "Special emphasis is directed to welfare and education issues facing those wounded in action and families and children of veterans killed in action during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom."

Tilley said his goal for next year is to move the event from DAR Constitution Hall to the Verizon Center and have 20,000 people in attendance.

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