Legion hosts veteran benefit concert

Daily Pilot

The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 291 is bringing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Dave Mason to Newport Beach. The former member of the band Traffic will perform a benefit concert Saturday at the American Legion Hall, 215 15th St., to raise funds for military veterans.

The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Net proceeds will go to Work Vessels for Veterans (WVFV), a nationwide nonprofit organization out of Noak, Conn., dedicated to assisting veterans as they make their way back into the civilian world, by finding them careers or the tools they need to start a career, Tim Knapp, vice president of WVFV, said in a phone interview.

Knapp said the group just bought eight acres of land in Jacksonville, Fla., for veteran Adam Burk to work his second blueberry farm. Burk served in Iraq and continues to struggle with post traumatic stress disorder. Burk, in turn, employs veterans whom he has met at the Veterans Administration hospital in Jacksonville who suffer from mental and physical illnesses. WVFV works with Burk to turn the blueberries that don't sell at market, into a jam called Red White and Blueberry jam. The proceeds all go back to the organization to help more veterans.

On the night of the Dave Mason concert, the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 291 will identify veterans to whom WVFV will donate laptops to help them go to school, Knapp said.

Jeff Wilcox, the first vice commander of Squadron 291, met Knapp at a Dave Mason concert in Irvine about six months ago.

"This whole initiative for this show is Jeff Wilcox," Knapp said. "Those that step up to help are the heroes too as far as I'm concerned."

The Sons of the American Legion are boys and men who are male descendants of those who served in a qualifying war and who want to help other veterans, according to Wilcox.

Wilcox said he expects the concert to raise $10,000. Standing area tickets are $50 and, as of Monday, there were about 50 left. The seating area is sold-out. There will be alcohol and food for purchase and all ages will be admitted. Tickets can be bought at the American Legion Hall.

Mason will sign albums after the show. He played in the 1960s and '70s band Traffic, which has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

"Our government doesn't do enough for our veterans; these people [WVFV] give them the tools they lack to get back into the workforce," Wilcox said. "I don't think it's harder [for veterans to get a job than the average citizen] but they deserve the extra help. Some of them have given the ultimate sacrifice. These people put their life on the line for our freedoms. They should get a little more support than someone else."

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