On a number of occasions, APAG has brought recovering wounded soldiers and their families from Augusta for dinner and a show at the URS Center for the Performing Arts.
APAG’s first military outreach was in 2008, when the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble went to the Augusta VA Medical Center for a morning performance. The ensemble played for 90 minutes with about 100 patients and staff coming and going during this time.
Soldiers, veterans, and staff were delighted with this special performance that gave them the freedom to spend a few minutes or listen to the entire selection of music depending upon their schedules. At the end of the performance APAG was presented with a lovely thank you plaque for funding and arranging this special performance of one of our nation’s most celebrated musical schools.
In December 2009, Dave Bennett’s “Tribute to Benny Goodman” Orchestra serenaded active duty soldiers recovering from wounds received in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers and their families were brought to Aiken from Eisenhower Medical Center at Fort Gordon. Prior to the concert, APAG treated the soldiers and their families to dinner at the Aiken Municipal Building. A total of 40 soldiers, family, and staff dined and then were taken to the concert. The soldiers were delighted with the Christmas concert, and the appreciative audience gave the soldiers and their families a standing ovation.
In February 2010, APAG brought a New Orleans Jazz group, “Hot 8 Brass Band” to perform in Aiken. The band has a national and international reputation, has recorded CDs, and tours extensively. Twenty soldiers recovering at the Augusta VA Medical Center from wounds received in Iraq or Afghanistan were brought to Aiken for BBQ dinner and the jazz concert. Again, the citizens gave the soldiers a standing ovation. The “Hot 8 Brass Band” is a very lively, exciting group, and soon the soldiers were responding to the music, smiling, and laughing.
This tradition has now become an annual event. Most recently, the John Brown Jazz Orchestra performed for a special group of soldiers from Fort Gordon at their November 2011 concert which they dedicated to these soldiers and all veterans.