HOUSTON - On the eve of Veterans Day, some of the most iconic artists performed at the third annual VetsAid concert at the Toyota Center. The festival is hosted by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, guitarist, and singer, songwriter Joe Walsh of The Eagles. The music benefit raises money for veterans and their families.
VetsAid 2019 featured sets from ZZ Top, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Joe Walsh.
This was the first time the concert was held in Houston. With more than 250,000 veterans, Houston has the second largest veteran population in the nation. It’s one of the reasons why Walsh said he wanted to host the 2019 benefit in the Bayou City.
Since creating the organization in 2017, VetsAid has already given back more than $1.2 million dollars in grants to veterans service organizations across the country.
The large grant recipients selected are: Combined Arms, Headstrong Project, United States Veterans Initiative (U.S. Vets), Next Op Veterans, Vets4Warriors, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Swords to Plowshares and Sentinels of Freedom.
The small grant recipients selected are: Grace After Fire, Train A Dog Save A Warrior (TADSAW), Texas Veterans Outdoors, Smiles for Veterans, Hero’s Bridge, Every Third Saturday, Vets on Track Foundation, Easter Seals Houston and Heartstrides.
As a Gold Star child, Walsh and his wife, Marjorie said they were motivated to give back to veterans for personal reasons. Walsh’s father died while on active duty on Okinawa, Japan when Walsh was 20 months old.
“My father was a world war veteran too with two purple hearts. My brother who just stepped out of the room is a veteran. We love our country. And to see that these people put themselves in harm’s way and that we find them homeless in our streets is shameful,” Marjorie said.
“It's a different war than we've ever fought. There's coming up on maybe 3,000 casualties so far in Afghanistan but there are maybe 20,000 vets who came home injured. And that transition back to civilian life is amazingly tough,” Walsh said.
Those words ring true for Texas Army Nation Guard staff sergeant Michael Morancie, who's served in the military for the last 14 years.
“Similar to learning a different language, you have someone there who's teaching you how to say your first words, and this organization is just that. They're teaching you a new language. We already knew that language, before we went to the military, but it’s just acclimating us to what things are now,” Morancie said.
And for some like Mickey Nixon, serving others is all he's ever known.
“For a lot of people, if not most people in the military, their first job outside of high school might have been the military so that is their foundation,” Nixon said.
“If there's no place for help, they isolate and they get depressed. There's been more suicides than there have been combat deaths,” Walsh said.
Walsh will serve as the keynote speaker and Grand Marshal of the “Houston Salutes American Heroes Veterans Day Celebration” honoring the brave men, women and families who have fought and sacrificed for the nation’s liberty and freedom.
Walsh said he has three cities in mind for the concert’s 2020 location, but he isn’t revealing where exactly just yet.
However, Walsh did hint that it'll likely be somewhere in the midwest.