LIMA — A little bit of Hollywood came to Lima on Saturday night.
The Veterans Memorial Civic Center hosted Hollywood In the Heartland, a night to thank veterans for their service and to call attention to the problem of the national crisis of suicidal and homeless veterans.
“The primary goal of honoring American veterans is to bring a greater public awareness of this national crisis that we have of 22 suicides a day by young men and women who have served us,” said Al Han, executive producer. “They protected us and they come back and they have problems acclimating and we need to help them because those 22 kids could be your relatives, my relatives, your neighbors, my neighbors, our friends or children of our friends and it’s a shame. Additionally, the other part of this national crisis is homelessness. We have 58,000 veterans that are sleeping on park benches, under bridges, under tunnels, in cardboard boxes, in cars while you and I are sleeping comfortably in our own beds at home and as a nation, we need to do more.”
Richard Cabral is executive director of Honoring American Veterans.org the main organization that is promoting the event.
“I spent 22 years in the military. Three branches. Three campaigns and I lost a lot of friends. In combat is one thing with what these guys are killing themselves suicide it became a really big problem for me. I went to sniper school with a friend of mine and he killed himself after four deployments in Afghanistan. When that happened it just completely blew me away. I said I got to do something,” said Cabral
A portion of the net profits of Hollywood in the Heartland will stay local.
“Fifty percent of all net proceeds will go into a fund to remain here locally for charitable organizations that are actually providing assistance and services to homeless and suicidal veterans,” said Han.
During the first part of the evening, actress Kristy Swanson (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Seal Team”) interviewed Darin Selnick, a recent senior advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs about the implementation of the MISSION Act, touted as the biggest transformation of the V.A. healthcare system in over 20 years.
For Swanson, it’s a cause she backs 100%.
“I feel very passionately about it. I have a huge heart for our veterans and what they do every day and how they put themselves on the line and I have a huge heart for their families as well and if there’s anything I can do to help support them and their families I’m there,” said Swanson.
“Veterans who are in need of medical care can now seek any local medical provider that he or she may need if on day 21 if the VA can not provide services within the first 20 days. This is a huge major impact on healthcare access for our veterans,” said Han.
After intermission, actor Robert Davi (“The Goonies,” “Licence to Kill” and the TV series “Profiler”) performed songs Sinatra-style from the Great American Songbook.
Han, a Lima native who spent 18 years living in Los Angeles, hopes to take the show on the road.
“We intend to take this all around the country in the heartland of America, away from big cities in small-town USA Because that’s where most of our servicemen and women come from. They don’t come from big cities they come from the heartland,” Han added.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.