Gene Simmons is a busy guy. Between launching the restaurant chain Rock and Brews, preparing for another season of Gene Simmons Family Jewels on A&E, and working on the upcoming KISS album (and getting ready to hit the road on the KISS/Motley Crue tour), he’s taking time to support the Wounded Warrior organization as well as Rock For Vets.
Wounded Warrior is an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the needs of injured service members, to enlist the public’s aid in helping them, and “to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.” Last week, at the opening of his Rock and Brews restaurant, Simmons presented two injured soldiers with a check for $25,000 for the organization. And tonight (April 10) Simmons is headlining a benefit concert at the Roxy in L.A. for Rock For Vets, with all proceeds going towards a music rehab program for men and women of the military who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other related illnesses. Simmons tells CBS Local that he decided to work with Rock For Vets “After seeing how therapeutic music can be to our wounded warriors when I visited them at Long Beach Veterans Hospital.”
CBS Local spoke to Simmons about the gig, the organization, and our debt to our Veterans. “Wounded Warrior has always been near and dear to my heart and to KISS,” he explains. On a recent tour, “We contributed a dollar from every ticket sold to Wounded Warrior. And presented the check live, on stage in front of every concert going audience.”
“Our government is lax and should be ashamed at how we treat our returning wounded warriors,” Simmons says. But his advice to American citizens, regarding the men and women of the military, is to, “Shake the hands of returning vets. Give them jobs. Give them respect. That’s the least we can do.”
At last week’s Rock and Brews event, Simmons did a bit more than that, in the form of the aforementioned $25,000 check. “Meeting two young Americans who volunteered was inspirational, to say the least. When I saw the medals they wore and the scars of battle on their bodies…it was almost too much to comprehend. People tend to overlook that our entire military is a voluntary military: our young men and women volunteer to serve and sometimes give the most precious gift, life itself. One of the vets gave me a bracelet in honor and memory of two fallen soldiers. It said: ‘All gave some. Some gave all.’ It brings a tear to my eye.”
Expect some tears tonight: Simmons is headlining, but also on the bill will be the Rock For Vets band, with members of the military who have benefitted from music therapy. Simmons will be backed by his KISS bandmates Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, and he says that the show will also be a family affair: “My daughter Sophie just told me she is jumping on stage to sing, as well.”
Tickets for the show start at $35 and are available at The Rock Club. If you cannot attend, but want to contribute, you may also elect to “Send a Veteran in your place” to attend the show. All proceeds benefit The Rock Club’s “Rock For Vets” Music Rehab Program.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local