Legendary band KISS has rocked and rolled all night and partied every day for nearly 40 years around the world, but lately it’s not only their music that has been drawing attention from fans here at home. It’s their patriotism and overwhelming support for the men and women in uniform.
For the past decade, KISS has brought awareness to the volunteer nature of our fighting force, visited recovering wounded, and raised money for returning veterans. And while viewers of the hit television series “Family Jewels" may know that Gene Simmons’ deep love for the U.S. military derived from his mother’s dramatic rescue by American forces during the Holocaust, the rest of the band is just as patriotic for their own reasons.
Frontman and KISS founder Paul Stanley also has red, white, and blue coursing through his veins.
“We sing about freedom. We sing about the individual. We sing about self empowerment and being able to make your own path and your own road to success,” said vocalist Paul Stanley, aka The Starchild. “In that way, everything we sing is about patriotism in the sense that we are – in the truest sense – the American Dream. When these brave men and women come home with either broken bodies or broken spirits, somebody is going to have to look after them and get them back on track. We’re blessed to be in this position, where we can help to help bring awareness to organizations that care for them and that are there to support our heroes.”
For every ticket sold to their recent “Hottest Show on Earth” tour, KISS donated $1 for a total of $500,000 to the Augusta Warrior Project, which assists wounded military personnel with a wide spectrum of care and assistance transitioning home using many VA and Defense Department assets in the Augusta, Georgia, area.
The Augusta Warrior Project boasts the nation’s only active duty rehabilitation unit located within a VA facility, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. To date, the center has treated more than 720 inpatients and 1,235 total patients and is also home to a 71-bed Spinal Cord Injury Unit and a 15-bed Blind Rehabilitation Center.
Nearby Eisenhower Army Medical Center consistently ranks in the top five among military treatment facilities for receiving air evacuees directly from Iraq and Afghanistan. Eisenhower AMC has a level one center for traumatic brain injury care, behavioral and mental health expertise, and the Army’s only inpatient substance abuse treatment program that collaborates directly with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.
“The Augusta Warrior Project is a great example of public and private organizations working together in the right way for the right reason,” said Stanley. “These people deserve our prayers, our support, and our dollars, quite frankly.”
Currently in the studio recording, KISS intends to head back on the road to tour their new album after its fall release. When asked if they have considered touring with the USO, Stanley confirmed that it is a top priority for the band.
“We’ve never done a USO tour before just because dates and logistics didn’t line up right, but that’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” said Stanley. “Hopefully we can do that very soon. It would be our greatest honor.
“Loving your country and standing up for your country isn’t un-cool,” added Stanley. “It’s about as cool as you can get. This is the greatest country on earth, and for the guys and gals out there protecting our way of life right now, we love you. Be safe and God speed.”
Joseph Andrew Lee is the USO's staff writer.