Joe Walsh, Gary Clark Jr. and Zac Brown pose for photos before the start of VetsAid, at Eagle Bank Arena, Wednesday, Sept. 20, in Fairfax, Va.

Joe Walsh, Gary Clark Jr. and Zac Brown pose for photos before the start of VetsAid, at Eagle Bank Arena, Wednesday, Sept. 20, in Fairfax, Va. (Ken-Yon Hardy/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON – Grammy award-winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joe Walsh distributed $360,000 among 16 veterans’ organizations after VetsAid, a benefit concert he put together in September.

Walsh, 69, launched the initiative to help veterans and families of servicemembers who have died. He and Keith Urban, the Zac Brown Band and Gary Clark Jr. performed Sept. 20 at Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

Eight organizations received $40,000 grants from VetsAid, according to a statement from Walsh’s publicist. Another eight groups were each awarded $5,000.

“It’s the least I could do for those who have served and continue to serve our country,” Walsh said in a written statement. “We’re all in this together as Americans, and it seems to me lately that people are forgetting that.”

Walsh’s father, Lt. Robert Newton Fidler, died in Okinawa, Japan, in 1949 when Walsh was just 20 months old. During the concert, he said he hoped the night would be healing – for veterans, for families of fallen servicemembers and for himself.

He wants to expand VetsAid into an annual event modeled after Willie Nelson’s FarmAid, which benefits family farms.

Musicians are already committed to a concert next year, Walsh said.

Walsh focused some of the proceeds from the concert toward small, community-based groups.

“The smaller organizations between the coasts, those are the people I care about,” he said during a news conference before the concert in September. “They’re the people in the trenches that don’t have any budget, and just to keep them going is huge.”

The organizations that received $40,000 grants are: Children of Fallen Patriots, Hire Heroes, Operation MEND, Semper Fi Fund, Stop Soldier Suicide, Swords to Plowshares, TAPS and Warrior Canine Connection.

Those awarded $5,000 are: American Military Music, Arkansas Run for the Fallen, Child & Family Services Yuma, Code Platoon, Equinox Ranch, Semper K9, Suiting Warriors and Work Vessels For Vets. Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.

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