Nam Jam has music, info, help

Programs that assist veterans have booths at daylong concert
2012-10-18T00:00:00Z 2012-10-18T07:40:23Z Nam Jam has music, info, helpGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
October 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Nam Jam coordinators are reaching out to all veterans, particularly those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the concert's 25th anniversary.

More than 15 programs geared toward helping veterans will set up on the grounds of the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park on Saturday in an effort to provide assistance and guidance to former soldiers who aren't sure what to do next.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will have four booths, covering everything from services veterans are entitled to receive to housing for homeless vets.

The Vet Center, which provides counseling to all veterans who served in any combat zone, will be on site with its behavioral-health mobile wagon.

Other organizations in attendance include Operation Homefront, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Therapeutic Riding of Tucson (TROT), which provides horse riding lessons to local vets.

"A veteran is a veteran is a veteran, regardless of when and where they served," said Dan Ross, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Tucson Chapter 106, the organization that puts on Nam Jam. "We want to let these veterans who were in Iraq and Afghanistan know that we are going to make sure they get the help they need."

Ross, a volunteer veterans service officer at the VA hospital, said there's been a steady increase of younger vets coming to him in recent years.

Some ask about disability claims and rehabilitation but others come to talk about mental-health issues.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that an average of 18 veterans commit suicide each day, which accounts for about 20 percent of suicides committed each year in the United States.

"We felt that something had to be done," said Nam Jam chair Steve Kreamer, an event coordinator who has helped plan more than 40 events in town, including Fiesta Grande in Barrio Hollywood.

Kreamer said he hopes the increase in programs onsite will continue on in future Jams.

"No one knows how to navigate the system better than a Vietnam vet," Kreamer said.

Aside from the resources, the all-day event, which is also open to non-veterans, will feature a kids area, food vendors and a full lineup of local musicians, including Angel Perez, LeeAnne Savage, the Bryan Dean Trio and Chuck Wagon and the Wheelchairs.

Ross said the Vietnam Veterans of America chapter is committed to helping veterans from every generation.

"Whether you fought in Korea or Afghanistan, all are welcome," Ross said.

If you Go

• What: Nam Jam 25th anniversary concert, presented Vietnam Veterans of America Inc., Tucson Chapter 106.

• When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, 900 S. Randolph Way.

• Tickets: $5 donation.

• Info: tucsonnamvets.org

Nam Jam partners with Blues Fest

Coordinators for the annual Blues and Heritage Festival have joined forces with Nam Jam this year in an effort to save costs.

The events are taking place back-to-back, with Nam Jam on Saturday and the blues fest on Sunday so that expenses are shared evenly on necessities like fencing and the sound system.

This year's blues fest will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will feature mostly local bands, including the Silver Thread Trio, Mitzi Cowell and headliner Johnny Faber.

Admission is $10. Visit azblues.org for more information.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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