Pop music icon GARY LEWIS was in Temecula December 2 to receive an award for his contributions in support of U.S. military veterans. Lewis, along with his band GARY LEWIS AND THE PLAYBOYS, has been a regular performer at several annual VALENTINES FOR VETERANS CONCERTS. Initiatives of the Concerts include raising awareness about local VA medical centers throughout the country and increasing volunteerism.
The GARY LEWIS AND THE PLAYBOYS band, which formed in 1964, had achieved several BILLBOARD MAGAZINE top-ten hits such as “This Diamond Ring” and “Count Me In,” when in 1966 Lewis was drafted by the U.S. Army to serve in Vietnam. Because of his refusal to seek deferment using his fame, Lewis became popular among fellow veterans. Even after being offered the opportunity to serve in an Army band for the entertainment of other troops, Lewis declined. “I knew that if regular Army service was good enough for Elvis, it was good enough for me,” Lewis said.
The Concerts that Lewis has generously committed to, take place during the week of Valentines Day every February in cities across America and are sponsored in large part by national nonprofit organization HELP HOSPITALIZED VETERANS (HHV). Through its presence at the Concerts each year, HHV has helped increase VA’s volunteer base by over 1,000 new recruits.
Since the first official VALENTINES FOR VETERANS CONCERT in 2008, thousands of veterans, military personnel and American Gold Star families have been both entertained as well as reminded that their services and sacrifice has not been forgotten.
Before each Concert, Lewis even takes the time to visit with hospitalized veterans. In his unwavering support of veterans, he’s also become a participant in several other rehabilitation special events, such as VA’s annual National Veterans TEE Tournament.
During the presentation of his PATRIOT AWARD, Lewis said modestly that serving in the military is one of the accomplishments he’s most proud of. He also took time out of his schedule to visit HHV’s national headquarters. The 26,000 square foot facility doubles as a manufacturing plant, where many of the arts and crafts kits provided to veteran patients are produced. In 2012 alone, HHV manufactured 379,000 of the over 800,000 kits distributed to VA and military hospitals worldwide. And since its 1971 inception, HHV has delivered to veterans over 27 million kits, including those manufactured at HHV—always free of charge.
“It speaks volumes about the character of a man who refuses special treatment during his military service, and it’s that same spirit which drives Lewis to continue to do what he can to help his fellow veterans,” said HHV’S PRESIDENT AND CEO, MIKE LYNCH. Lewis also autographed several kits for veterans. “HHV will be giving these unique kits to sick and injured Vietnam veterans later in the year during a special presentation,” Lynch added.