Weekend Ticket: ‘Concert For Hope’ to benefit veterans

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rosie Plaia said she’s tired of watching her friends die.

The founder of the Different Rhythm Foundation, an organization that works to counter poaching throughout Africa, said she’s seen too many real American heroes rip their families apart.

Military veterans — too often abandoned once they return home from war — deserve better care than a “box of pills” to combat post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other “invisible illnesses” acquired through serving one’s country to the highest degree, Plaia said.

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As a Texan living with combat PTSD herself, Plaia said she can’t stand by any longer and watch returning soldiers face the same hell she lives with every day. Plaia said she started reaching out to veterans she’s met through the Different Rhythm Foundation to see what she could do to aid in their treatment options once they return to civilian life.

Untitled 1.crtrThe Different Rhythm Foundation will host its first “Concert For Hope,” a 15-hour tribute to all U.S. military veterans, at Chambers County Park in Winnie Saturday. Proceeds will benefit the Lone Survivor Foundation Crystal Beach Retreat, which helps veterans treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other chronic pains.

“It’s not unusual for veterans transitioning from war to civilian life to end up in Africa with (the Different Rhythm Foundation), working to end the poaching of rhinos and elephants for their ivory,” Plaia said Thursday. “So now we not only know the animal activism world, we’ve been graciously able to meet the military world. It’s our two worlds just coming together, forming a family.”

Plaia said the main purpose of “Concert For Hope” is to raise awareness for the invisible, chronic illnesses that plague so many of the veterans she’s met through her work in Africa.

“I don’t want to read anymore articles about our troops or their family members committing suicide because the only treatment they were offered when they returned from war was a box of pills. That’s the reality,” Plaia said. “They deserve better than this. Their families deserve better than this.

“It’s time we say thank you and take the time to do it properly. It’s time we give without asking for something, so to speak. ‘Concert For Hope’ is an honorable and authentic way to give back to people who truly deserve it.”

Plaia said she wants “Concert For Hope” to serve as a “day of healing” for all Southeast Texas veterans, but especially for the family of Staff Sgt. Gary Lamar Collins — a 32-year-old Hardin native killed Nov. 8, 2003 while riding in a Bradley fighting vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device in Fallujah, Iraq.

“We didn’t have the organizations we have now toward the beginning of the war. The people who died in that first wave weren’t honored like they should have been,” Plaia said. “Sgt. Collins is No. 10 on the war’s killed in action list, ad he has not been (fully honored) in all the 12 years since his death.

“He was buried at (Arlington National Cemetery) with his brothers and sisters — a Texas flag over his casket instead of the traditional U.S. flag — and then he was forgotten about. The Texas Military Honors Team will be with us to give Sgt. Collins a full program, not just a salute. This is our chance to truly give him and his family what he deserves.”

“Concert For Hope” is scheduled Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight at Chambers County Park, 307 East Leblanc Road in Winnie.

Veterans will be featured speaking and performing throughout the day, as will Operation Pits Healing Heroes — a K-9 unit that specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder. All service dogs are welcome but need to wear a leash and a vest, Plaia said.

Music will include The Cadillacs, Scott McGill Band, the Lone Star Bagpipe Band, Coastal Fury, Folk Family Revival, and the David Kaiser & World Champions Band.

Tickets are $25 and include parking. Children 10 and younger are free.

For tickets, sponsor packages, vendor applications, auction and exempt forms, email differentrhythmfoundation@gmail.com or call Plaia at (512) 585-8223.

Twitter: @crhenderson90