BELUSHI2by Terry Richards

On Sunday, December 02, 2012, I covered the 20th Annual Veterans’ Holiday Celebration which was held at the Jackie Robinson Stadium located at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. Although there were a number of bands which performed, Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts Band were the headliner which drew a crowd of about 5,000 Veterans, their families, and their friends, as well as others. The event started about 10:00 a.m. but Belushi and his Band were not scheduled until 4:40 p.m.

At about 4:00 p.m. I asked for and was granted access to interview Belushi in his VIP Trailer. I asked Belushi why he and his Band volunteered every year to perform at this Veterans event? In paraphrasing Belushi, Belushi said it was a way to pay back and say thank you to these Veteransjbos2goodone who have sacrificed their lives for us. I replied to Belushi that not everyone feels that way you know? Belushi  replied an d said “Yes, I know, and I really don’t understand why? I really don’t.” Belushi went on to say that whenver he sees a Veteran on the street soliciting for help that he always gives them money. I was very touched by what Belushi said about Veterans and I told him so… I was also pleasantly surprised about how down-to-earth, informal, and casual Belushi and by how respectful Belushi was to me during the interview with him.

barrygoneI also interviewed Barry Gershenson who is the Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Holiday Celebration, Inc. who is in charge of putting-together this giant event each year. Gershenson has been in charge of this event now for 6-years and told me that this event has been held in many different locations on the VA Property during this period of time but that this was the first time it was held at Jackie Robinson Stadium which he felt was the only that could hold a crowd that has grown to 5,000 people.

Chaplain Dov Cohen was the Volunteer Coordinator for this event. Cohen has been a Jewish Chaplain for over 50-years which started while he was in the Army. Cohen who is also the Jewish Chaplain and President of the Resident’s Association at the West Los Angeles California Veterans Home, Founder and Chaplain for, and dov cohen2also performs inter-denominational religious services at one of California’s Women’s Prisons, is no stranger to juggling many acts and responsibilities at the same time and that’s why he was chosen to coordinate the scores of Volunteers at this year’s event. There was plenty of food and drink for the Volunteers at the Volunteer Tent where they gathered and from which they were disseminated whenever and wherever Volunteers were needed.

VHCmemorydedicationplaqueThere was also a Security and Lost and Found and  First Aid Tent, and 2-very large Tents with tables and chairs set up to feed about 800 people at-a-time. The menu was Brisket, Turkey, Pasta, Vegetables, fruit, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cheese cake, and beverages of all kinds. Behind these Tents were the Volunteers from the American Culinary Federation who cooked and carved all the meats and cut all the vegetables and fruit, etc., for 5,000 peoplefoodtentvhc1 to eat.

Some of the less known Bands and Singers were:


which is a group of all Veterans who play music and sing for Therapy. This Program is located at the Long Beach VA Medical Center. Frank Mcllquham is the Director, and Katherine McIIquham is the Administrator of the Program. Gary Hull was the lead singer at this event. I will be writing a more in-depth story about this musical group and the Therapyrockclub1 Program in the near future, so watch for it!!! In the interim however, here is the link to trockclub2heir website.

BELLA DONNAmichelletaylorbelladonne1

“A Tribute To Stevie Nicks” is led by lead singer MICHELLE TYLER who some say sounds just like Stevie Nicks.


, a live swing band with Douglas Roegiers as their lead singer.

Photo to the right is that of Michelle Taylor who is the lead singer for the BELLA DONNA Band. Michelle told me that she feels very strongly about supporting Veterans and that’s why she and her Band Volunteer at this Annual Event.


VHCscheduleofevents2012Sign on right is the Events Schedule for the day.