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John Mellencamp will perform a televised concert Friday for about 300 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, USA Today reported Friday.

The Washington hospital, under fire in recent months amid reports of inadequate care, opened its doors to Mellencamp despite the Indiana rock star’s vocal stance against the Iraq war and the Bush administration.

“I don’t pretend to understand decisions the government makes,” the paper quotes Mellencamp as saying. “I’m sure in light of the circumstances, their first inclination would have been to say no. But they want to give their patients something special.”

The catalyst for Mellencamp’s appearance was his brief acoustic set at the opening in January of the Center for the Intrepid, a physical rehab facility in San Antonio for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Disturbed by the Walter Reed scandal, Mellencamp initially considered staging a large benefit show and funneling proceeds to the hospital.

“Then it dawned on me what I really wanted to do is lighten the load of the soldiers and workers in the hospital, so why not just play for them?” he told USA Today. “The amount we’d raise in an arena concert is peanuts next to what the government throws around.”

In a statement to USA Today, Walter Reed spokesman Steve Sanderson said “warriors in transition” are eagerly awaiting the show. “Unique events like this provide a great forum for these soldiers to relax and enjoy themselves.”

The performance will air in the United States at 8 p.m. EDT on HDNet in the channel’s first broadcast of a live concert, USA Today wrote.


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