Aug. 11 concert at Crystal Ballroom benefits veterans

COURTESY: JOHN STEINBAUGH - John Steinbaugh, recently retired from the U.S. Army, had 13 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, three times earning the Purple Heart Award. He's giving back by helping fellow veterans.John Steinbaugh, a decorated member of the U.S. Army, has seen the rigors of conflict up close, having done 13 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has also returned home with much of his health, and retired from 25 years in the military.

Others have not been as fortunate, both mentally and physically. Steinbaugh helped start the local chapter of the Veterans Sportsman Alliance to help them, by taking veterans out to hunt and fish and mountain climb and trap shoot or whatever.

“It’s my way of giving back to the military community,” says Steinbaugh, 48, a West Linn resident and owner of a Wilsonville medical supplies company. “Portland, not being around a military base, veterans in the area don’t have a network. That’s what I wanted to bring to Portland and Oregon. There are a lot of veterans living in the shadow; it’s hard to find other veterans and talk with them. Some may not want to be found.”

His nonprofit, as well as the Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center in Beaverton, which helps and houses veterans, will benefit from the first “Combat Boots & Country Roots” concert, featuring Shooter Jennings and Cloverdayle, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at Crystal Ballroom ($25, $75 VIP). For more:

The concert is an extension of work by home builder Gerald Rowlett of Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, who established a “Veterans Day” at the Street of Dreams two years ago. It included free admittance to Street of Dreams, free lunch for veterans and families, and military ceremonies such as a flyover. It expanded in the second year, with even more veterans and families involved. So, Rowlett and others worked on supplementing their “Veterans Day” with a concert.

COURTESY: JOHN STEINBAUGH - Veteran Jed Morgan, a former corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps from southern Oregon, went out on a fishing trip courtesy of the Veterans Sportsman Alliance.Rowlett saw firsthand the toll that war took on people. His daughter brought a former classmate into their home, a young man who had served in Iraq. He had tattoos of fallen brothers on his body and “you could see right through him, he looked hollow,” Rowlett says.

“He was 23, had just gone through life’s most devastating experience and came home to nobody. He was about to disappear into the world, and that’s exactly what happened to him. It bothered me to see what had happened to this kid.”

The fundraising side evolved and “I have this belief that if we all just do a little bit ... you don’t have to change your lifestyle, but think about it and do a little bit. It makes one heck of a difference. That’s been my whole theory.”

Money raised for the Veterans Sportsman Alliance will help Steinbaugh take amputee veterans to the top of Mount Hood in May 2017 with “not a penny out of their pocket.” His group puts on four big organized trips a year, such as a fishing derby, and about a dozen smaller events, such as taking a wounded veteran and his son fishing.

Steinbaugh was wounded in combat. Three times he received the Purple Heart. When he retired as a master sergeant, Steinbaugh went on a hunting trip in California with another Veterans Sportsman Alliance group; he then started an Oregon chapter to help others.

Even with his military record, Steinbaugh finds it difficult to communicate with some veterans. Also, he has to watch out for frauds.

“You have to sell yourself to the veterans,” he says. “I tell them, ‘I’m a wounded vet myself and this is what we’re doing.’ ...

“You get them out, they come out of their shell.”

With earmarked funds to supplement current work, the Home Builders Foundation will help the Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center, which needs extensive renovations. Joshua Groesz, executive director, says the center needs a new central HVAC system as well as plumbing and window replacement, exterior paint and repaving/repainting the parking lot. Groesz says the center provides room and board for 70 homeless veterans and family members.

COURTESY PHOTO - Shooter Jennings will be the headliner for a veterans' fundraiser, 'Cowboy Boots & Country Roots,' Aug. 11 at Crystal Ballroom.Rowlett hopes the Street of Dreams “Veterans Day,” earlier Thursday, Aug. 11, will draw about 3,000 veterans and their families. He hopes the concert with Jennings, son of music legend Waylon Jennings, sells out; you can purchase a ticket and donate it to a veteran, via the website,

“It’s all about bringing awareness to the needs of our veterans,” Rowlett says. “We have expectations of next year being bigger and better. The hearts are out there, and passion.”

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