In 2007, a 24 year old California woman began a unique project to help raise funds for Veterans’ health care. Gina Elise didn’t know at the time, that the nostalgic calendars she produced, complete with personal messages, would provide such a huge morale boost for ill and injured Veterans and for the deployed troops. She could not have foreseen that she could have inspired a brain-injured Veteran to speak for the first time in a month. She could not have anticipated the seven American flags that were flown in military missions or over American military bases in Iraq, in honor of her calendar project. She could not have predicted that older Veterans would cry in response to her bedside visits in Veterans hospitals. She could not have imagined her photo being the inspiration to get young soldiers through their very difficult and dangerous deployments. She was just trying to raise funds for Veterans’ health care programs.
Gina Elise’s project has earned a number of awards over the last couple of years, but it is the hundreds of letters coming from Vets, recovering troops, and active duty military that are the real awards for this ambitious young woman. Some of the letters are included at the end of this e-mail.
Recently, the army has reported on the high number of suicides occurring in their ranks. Gina Elise has heard, firsthand, from active duty and former military, how very difficult their deployments have been or were for them, often accompanied by low morale and terrible loneliness. Gina Elise has received lots of requests from the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for her calendars that were inspired by the World War Two pin-up girls, like Betty Grable.
Gina Elise reflects on the project this way : “I now truly believe, two years after launching this project, that one calendar, included with a special message, purchased for a young recruit, can make all the difference in the world…just to let him know that others are thinking of him. It is a small gift, after all, but it speaks volumes to the lonely active duty military or the Vet lying alone in a hospital bed. These ill and injured Vets and active duty military need to know that people CARE about them, no matter what our own opinions are of the current war or of past wars. They signed up to serve our country and we need to honor them for their dedication.”
FoxNews did a story on Gina, which can be read here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,477747,00.html
Gina’s website and examples of her work can be seen at http://www.pinupsforvets.com