By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRATMarch 25, 2013
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Trace Adkins, in support of service members and veterans, came to Huntsville to perform.
The American Freedom Foundation hosted its second American Freedom Festival March 22 at the Von Braun Center Probst Arena featuring country singer, Trace Adkins, better known for hits such as "You're Gonna Miss This" and "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." The concert for veterans and service members helped benefit Still Serving Veterans as well as other Huntsville-area veteran organizations.
"The importance of today's event is to educate this country about what kind of sacrifice veterans make," said retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley, American Freedom Foundation co-founder. "To date, there have been nearly 40,000 wounded, 6,000 killed, 1,200 amputees and one in five have some form of post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Now let this sink in, the average age is 18-24. So what we are doing is about helping assist our veterans with whatever injuries they have and we do not want any to fall through any cracks in the system.
"We came back to Huntsville this year because this is a great, great community and we wanted to bring them another great show," he added. "And whatever you do out there, please do not forget about your veterans."
After retiring from the Army in 2004, Tilley began American Freedom Foundation, Inc., to honor the men and women of America's armed forces, raise awareness for their service and sacrifice, and raise money for organizations that serve and support veterans, active-duty military and their families. Special emphasis is directed to the welfare of those wounded in action, those disabled and the family members of those killed in action.
Tilley also spoke of how proud he is that the American Freedom Foundation has teamed up with Kaplan University and given away more than $1.5 million in scholarships for military spouses and dependents.
One of the local organizations that American Freedom Foundation has teamed up with is Still Serving Veterans.
Founded in 2007, Still Serving Veterans has helped more than 8,000 veterans and their families in the local area connect with the services they need to deal with life-changing injuries while reintegrating into civilian lives and careers.
During Friday's concert, Still Serving Veterans received a donation of $25,000.
"This is not only a fundraiser, but a way to honor our veterans," said William Webb, Still Serving Veterans president. "Trace Adkins has a heart for veterans, a number of his songs reflect that, and he understands that we need to be aware of the needs of our veterans. Still Serving Veterans gives us a chance to partner with the American Freedom Foundation, and we are all about helping veterans.
"Tonight is a great chance for us to raise awareness for our veterans," he continued. "We have a few thousand fans who are coming to see Trace Adkins and we have been able to give away a lot of tickets to our veterans.
"Our hero veterans have done noble things in treacherous places," Webb added. "They deserve the best we can give them, and that is what Still Serving Veterans is all about. We are here to help them find post-military jobs and help them with their veteran benefits and we are thrilled every time we get to help our veterans."
Since it began, SSV has been able to get veterans more than $77 million in services and benefits.
Based in Huntsville, Still Serving Veterans helps veterans assess their vocational and counseling needs and then connects those veterans with existing federal, state and local support services.
One of the veterans present spoke about the organizations that have chosen to support veterans and what it means to have someone care about veterans returning home.
"The evidence is here to show that the community is very supportive of me and my fellow veterans," said 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Kendall Bane, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Corps Regiment, who received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in Afghanistan. "One of the great things about the country is that communities like this one are getting good at taking care of our wounded warriors.
"I am definitely looking forward to the concert and I want to thank everyone for their support," he added.
The American Freedom Festival is a series of concerts that take place across the country featuring music performers, actors, athletes, dignitaries and other supporters, joining together to help support and fulfill the mission of the American Freedom Foundation.
"Tonight is another one of those nights in Huntsville where the community gathers in support of the American Freedom Foundation to support Soldiers, veterans and wounded warriors," said Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "This is another magnificent opportunity to do something that is fun and also supports our Soldiers. We are appreciative of the performers tonight, Still Serving Veterans, The American Freedom Foundation, all of the corporate sponsors, government officials and veterans who have reached out to put on this wonderful event.
"It was a great show last year and it will be even better this year with Trace Adkins," he added. "We have a larger crowd this year, and I know it is going to be a fantastic concert."
Opening up for Adkins was actress, and one of Country music's rising stars, Jana Kramer, best known for her single, "Why Ya Wanna."
Adkins made his debut in 1995 with the album, "Dreamin' Out Loud." He is also an author and an actor, both on television and in the movies. He can currently be seen on the TV show Celebrity Apprentice.
Adkins has released nine studio albums and 30 singles on the Country charts. His songs include; "Every Light in the House," "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing," "I Left Something Turned On at Home," "Rough & Ready," "Ladies Love Country Boys," "Marry for Money," "Brown Chicken Brown Cow" and "Ala-Freakin-Bama," among others.
During the show he played his hits as well as some new songs. He also took time to thank all the veterans, service members, and their families who have served the country.