With just over a month left to prepare, local volunteers are busy with the details of hosting the Blue Skies Veterans Benefit, a music and comedy family event headlining the 80s band Night Ranger, local bands and musicians, comedians, and kids’ activities. The event is scheduled for September 24 and will be held at the Rafter 3C Event Complex in the outdoor arena.
The benefit is being sponsored by the Veterans Independence Foundation, which was started with one purpose in mind – to help veterans in need. Founder Neil Blitstein served eight tours in Iraq and returned home to his wife injured and beaten down. He did not have a disability rating, so services were not available to him. When the washer and dryer quit the same month as the hot water heater, the Blitsteins found themselves in financial trouble. Luckily, they had family who could help out, but the experience made them realize not everyone was in their situation. “We realized a lot of veterans don’t have that,” said Neil, “and that’s where we come in. We don’t want a vet to get stuck because of these kinds of things.”
Victoria Crystal, a VIF board member, has put together an entire day of activities that will kick off at 11 a.m. on September 24 on the Patriot Stage, near the Barrel House or the old Multi-Purpose Building at the fairgrounds. There will be plenty of family entertainment throughout the day with a kid zone, vendors, and food trucks. Local DJ Brandon Hooten will be entertaining as well as Steve Christie who will be hosting the Fallon’s Got Talent event. At 5 p.m. activities move to the Hero Stage in the outdoor arena where the GI’s of comedy will entertain before Night Ranger plays beginning at 8 p.m.
The foundation and its local ambassadors on the ground in communities across the country are authorized to spend up to $600 without going back to the board for approval. They do not give money directly to veterans, but if someone needs groceries or tires for the vehicle they use to get back and forth to work, the foundation pays the vendor directly on behalf of the veteran.
Blitstein and Crystal made a presentation recently to the Churchill County Commissioners who contributed $2,500 to the foundation that will go toward the costs of the Kids Zone. “All the money raised at this event in Fallon will stay here in this community to assist your vets,” said Blitstein. He said there are currently 3,100 veterans who live in Churchill County.
Veterans Independence Foundation will partner with local veterans’ service organizations to help local veterans get back on their feet. Although most organizations require some sort of disability rating to qualify for services, they do not. “All you need is an honorable discharge and demonstrate a need for assistance,” said Blitstein.
In addition to the main attraction of the Night Ranger concert, events, and activities to benefit veterans include a Car Show & Shine on September 11 at Les Schwab, a local talent contest that is currently running every other Wednesday night at the Alley Bar with the top three finalists competing at 2 p.m. on the 24th, a t-shirt design contest, comedians, and all the while KOZZ radio from Reno will be onsite doing a live broadcast.
Tickets are available online at https://heretohelpvets.org/blueskiesfallontickets/
Condolences to the family. I felt honored to read the obituary. A real Nevada cowboy. I felt his hard work,...