Music for Vets Continues Growth as a Premier Fundraiser for the American Legion

Music for Vets Continues Growth as a Premier Fundraiser for the American Legion

A member of the group American Hitmen performs at Music for Vets Saturday evening in Green River. The event is a fundraiser for the American Legion's local veteran relief fund. SweetwaterNOW photo by David Martin

GREEN RIVER – A longtime fundraiser for local veterans started 2024 with a bang Saturday evening, rocking the audience inside the Expedition Island Pavilion.

The 10th annual Music for Vets was standing room only for fans of good music and a good cause. Tom Niemiec, one of the many volunteers who help organize the show, said all the proceeds benefit the local veteran relief fund. Niemiec said the fund helps veterans who experience financial hardships. Veterans can apply for a cash grant from the relief fund to help them with their situation.

“Any veteran in need can come to the American Legion for a grant to help get them out of a bind,” he said.

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For situations involving children, Niemiec said the local posts will also help the veteran apply for aid from the National American Legion organization. Veterans passing through the area and experiencing travel-related problems can seek assistance through the fund to help them get to the next stop on their journey.

A local example Niemiec mentioned included a situation where a veteran’s CPAP machine was recalled, and the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to replace it. The relief fund was used to purchase a new CPAP machine for the veteran. He said the legion also has used the fund to build wheelchair ramps at veterans’ homes.

A pair of volunteers smiles as attendees listen to performances at Music for Vets Saturday. SweetwaterNOW photo by David Martin

Niemiec said the event has continued to grow over the years. The event started in Rock Springs at Archie Hay Post 24 before moving to Green River’s Tom Whitmore Post 28. After a few years, it outgrew Post 28’s building and was moved to Expedition Island, where it has remained ever since. Niemiec said planning for the event starts a year in advance and begins with a zero budget. Sponsors help the event through monetary and in-kind donations, as well as raffle prizes. Niemiec said the number of sponsors continues to grow as the 2024 event attracted 75 sponsors, 25 more than the 50 that helped with last year’s Music for Vets.

The amount raised for the veteran relief fund also grows each year. The event raised $63,000 last year and event organizers anticipated that record being shattered in 2024. An announcement made shortly after 8 p.m. told attendees the event had already raised $50,000 three hours into the event.

Music for Vets may have grown into a major fundraiser, but the concert night had humble beginnings. The event was started by members of the local rock band Zamtrip. Cory Zampedri, the drummer for Zamtrip, told SweetwaterNOW the idea was to create an event for local musicians to perform and benefit a worthy cause. The band quickly decided on helping veterans while planning for the initial show.

“There’s no better cause than for people who put their lives on the line,” Zampedri said. “We might as well use our talent and music to give back.”

Zampedri said Zamtrip’s members are proud to see how much the event has grown and credit that growth to the work of Post 28 in Green River.

Music for Vets brought smiles to attendees’ faces Saturday night. SweetwaterNOW photo by David Martin.