Valentine’s Dinner With Elvis – Supporting Veterans

by lewwaters

Vet ElvisFew entertainers have achieved the lasting notoriety as did Rock n Roll singing star, Elvis Presley. Presley died August 16, 1977 after a 24 year career on stage and in movies with his fame growing after his death, spawning the careers of many impressionists keeping his name and songs alive.

Many of today’s ‘Tribute Artists’ hadn’t been born when Presley was reaching the peak of his fame, but even they draw crowds to their shows as well as a competitions held throughout the land, judging which ones offer the overall best tributes to Elvis.

We are fortunate in Clark County to have one of the better artists, Mark Stevenz, a top 20 in the world Elvis Tribute Artist who has performed and delighted crowds all over North America, including Las Vegas and Memphis.

I have personally talked to Mark and was very impressed that off stage he carries himself with the same humility and good manners Elvis Presley was known for.

Elvis was also a patriot, as most Southerners are noted for. When he received a draft notice to enter the U.S. Army, he did not seek a commission or service in any Special Services. He served his stint entering as a Buck Private like everybody else, saying he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else. “The Army can do anything it wants with me,” he was noted for saying. He left after serving his enlistment as a Sergeant.

Mark Stevenz shares the Patriotism we saw in Elvis, performing at numerous fundraisers in the past on behalf of the Clark County Veterans Court that “provides a means to successfully rehabilitate veterans by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding life through treatment, rehabilitative programming, reinforcement and judicial monitoring.”

Returning from her time serving in the US Navy, Anne* developed a drinking problem, acquiring 4 DUI’s in 14 months, a disorderly conduct charge and other misdemeanors. She faced years in jail. Veterans Court Founding Judge Zimmerman took a chance on her and gave her concurrent 3 month sentences on the mandatory minimums where she ended up serving 90 days in jail instead of 270 and then spent 30 days in a VA treatment center in Walla Walla. She was able to keep her house, find employment as an accountant and graduated from the Vets Court ready to resume a productive life.

We have been sending our Troops to war for over a decade now, exposing them to unspeakable horrors against an entrenched enemy who would destroy our way of life, if not for these brave volunteers in today’s Military. Our Veterans Court is but one way those who return with troubles can be saved and helped to return to a more normal life.

Mark Stevenz has been performing his Elvis Tributes to help raise donations to keep our Veterans Court functioning and is scheduled to do so again this coming Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013 at the Vancouver Elks Lodge Ballroom, 11605 S.E. McGillivray Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98683.

Vietnam Era Veteran Ron* became severely introverted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, remaining in seclusion in his home in the outskirts of Clark County. Facing a single DUI, he volunteered for the Veterans Court for help with is reclusive lifestyle. He not only came to court on a weekly basis and attended treatment groups at the VA each week, he eventually moved down from Amboy, WA into the city limits, shaved off a scraggly beard and started volunteering at the Veterans Assistance Center helping other Veterans in need!

Doors open at 5 pm with Art Miller on the piano with the main entertainment starting at 6 pm with a special performance by The Young Marines and award winning vocalist Petya Grozeva.  Grammy Award winner and international guitar champion Doug Smith will do several tunes along with his famous rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever and a few duets with Judy Koch Smith.  Country Sensation Ricky Lee Jackson along with Shawna Quade will be one of many doing a few of Elvis’ greatest hits.

Col. Dan Kern is returning to the delight of everyone and we will be honored with some special songs by Miss Clark County’s Outstanding Teen 2013 – Dayzha Ab-Rahman.  In addition to America’s Got Talent competitor/vocalist Richie Olson, there will be one of the premiere performers in the Northwest as a surprise guest.

Vet Valentine Line-up

Veterans Court founding presiding Judge Darvin Zimmerman said “The Vets Court has had approximately 35 Veterans enter since its start in March of 2011. It has the highest graduation rate of any specialty court in Clark County. More than double most other courts as the Veterans really want to succeed. From a taxpayers viewpoint it is a great deal as the VA has the space and time to do all the treatment for the Vets and therefore the average of $6000.00 set aside for treatment costs in the other courts is not necessary. So one way of looking at it is we save the county $60,000 for every 10 Vets that we treat in Vets Court. Plus by treating the Vets as opposed to incarcerating them at $76 a day is a savings too.”

Vet Court Graduate

Curtis returned from Vietnam to a hostile society that misunderstood why we entered the war and looked down upon those who fought in Vietnam. As if the experience of war wasn’t bad enough, he faced the scorn of the very people he served. Struggling with alcoholism for several years and DUI’s, Curtis, with a lot of drive and determination was the first to enter Clark County’s Veterans Court and with collaboration of the court and probation system, the WA State and Federal Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the use of volunteer peer mentors, became the first to successfully graduate on March 14th, 2012.

Veterans are real people who have sacrificed much on our behalf, some paying a high price protecting our country facing horrors unimaginable to most people. Most are able to readjust, but some experience problems, turn to alcohol and just can’t shake their demons by themselves. We gave them those demons when we called on them to stand between us and our enemies and we owe it to those few to help shed their demons.

That is the function of our Veterans Court, to help them shed their demons instead of just being cast aside. To help give them back some of what they lost protecting us. To give them a chance to recover their lives after sacrificing on our behalf.

The Veterans Court is not taxpayer funded, beyond the initial grant and must rely on your generous donation to keep helping our Veterans. As shown throughout this post, several have made remarkable progress reentering society and regaining control of their lives.

We are fortunate in our community to have so much talent that is willing to step forward in these events supporting the Veterans Court, providing world class entertainment in exchange for your donation. A sampling of that talent you will see is this video of “Baby, its Cold Outside” being sung by Petya Grozeva and Richie Olson as well as Doug Smith playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” on his guitar.

A Star Studded line-up as this easily runs $50 a ticket in clubs and this includes a full two entree dinner with salad, dessert and beverages. Advance tickets may be ordered online for $20 a ticket or will cost $30 at the door. Tickets can also be purchased in advance at numerous places around town, listed at the online order link above.

It’s easy to say we support the Troops, but we have some in need of our support when they return. You can show your support and enjoy Valentine’s Day Dinner with Elvis and a Star Studded line up of first class entertainment at Elks Lodge Ballroom, 11605 S.E. McGillivray Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98683 from 5:30 pm to 9 pm.

Come on out and enjoy yourselves.

*Not the Veterans real names.

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