Meet eight military families treated to private Lady A concerts

The Haire Family with Lady Antebellum

The Haire Family with Lady Antebellum

A post published here Monday described what it felt like to accompany Sgt. Tommy Haire and his family to a private Lady Antebellum concert. Now it’s my pleasure to introduce you to seven other families Lady A honored with a private concert as well.

The Gaither Family and Lady Antebellum

The Gaither Family and Lady Antebellum

You might remember our 2008 child representative Scott—well, his dad, Shannon Gaither, is a 30-year veteran and was honored by Lady A in Atlanta. Scott even got to perform with Lady A! A couple minutes in to the song, Charles Kelley asked Scott to join them on stage to play a cajon drum. The Gaithers said it was a thrilling moment to say the least!

In Charlotte, the Hayes family had too much fun. Four-year-old David was overjoyed to be rocking out with Lady A while the band honored his dad. Anthony Hayes has served in the military for 14 years, starting in the army and is now in the Air Force Reserves in Charlotte. David has been receiving autism services from Easter Seals for two years.

Five-year army veteran Rebecca Fig and her crew saw Lady A in Greensboro. Fig has received support from Easter Seals for about seven years.

Our Columbus family was the Burchetts. Not only is Randy Burchett an Air Force veteran, but he is the facilities manager for Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio and has worked there for over 33 years. He plays Santa for kids with disabilities at that Easter Seals, and recently, The Easter Seals Garden of Giving was dedicated in his honor.

The Statens in Cincinnati were ecstatic to see Lady Antebellum. Gary Staten enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2009 at the age of 29 — older than most of his drill instructors. He was an aircraft logistics specialist and was in charge of loading bombs onto planes. In October 2012, he deployed to Afghanistan. In early 2013 he broke his leg in training and required surgery. He was honorably discharged in September 2013.

Upon his discharge, he and his wife Amber had planned to move from Cherry Hill North Carolina back home to Northern Kentucky to be close to family and Gary’s 13 year-old son. Gary had planned to use his final check to pay his bills, put a deposit on an apartment and be able to start fresh. However, the government shutdown caused his final check to be delayed, and instead of starting fresh, Gary was growing in debt, lost his apartment and was having to live separately from his wife and rely on the kindness of family for a place to stay.

He called United Way, who connected him immediately to Easter Seals TriState’s new military and veterans initiative: Operation Vets THRIVE. There, an employment specialist helped connect both he and his wife to jobs. Gary is about to begin a job at FedEx and is going back to college in the spring at Cincinnati State to be an EMT. They have a house in a great neighborhood in Hebron and are starting to look to the future.

The Indianapolis veteran couple, Bob and Melissa Shelton and their family, were honored to be part of the experience. Bob Shelton served 25 years in the army on combat tours in Iraq and Kuwait. He currently volunteers and serves on the Easter Seals Crossroads Board of Directors. His wife, Melissa served 13 years in the army on a combat tour in Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Storm.

The last city of the mini tour was in St. Louis, where Lady A honored veterans Bernie Shindler (navy) and Jeff Keller (marines) for their service. Jeff’s daughter Alexis receives autism services from Easter Seals Midwest. Lexie’s grandfather, Bernie Schindler, served in the navy during Vietnam and ended his service in 1965. Jeff Keller said, “Our family was thrilled to be a part of this amazing experience.” Lexie and her father even got up and danced together during their last song.

And, of course, I already talked about attending the private Lady A concert with U.S. Army Veteran Sgt. Tommy Haire and his family here in Chicago, but my post last Monday left out the details about his service in the military. Sgt. Tommy Haire served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was team leader under the leadership of Dixon Center’s Col. David Sutherland. Haire is now the Executive Administrator for the Heroes to HealthCare program, a non-profit organization that assists in transitioning military medics from the military into civilian healthcare careers.

It was a thrill to be at one of these concerts with a deserving family, and today it’s been an honor to have the privilege to introduce you to these other deserving families. I’m a bigger Lady Antebellum fan than I was before, and that’s saying a lot!


 

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