September 23, 2010
By Adam Folk
Photo by John Curry

The rock band KISS has been sending more than just affection to the wounded soldiers in the Augusta area after visiting the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center last year.

Since the start of their Hottest Show on Earth tour in July, the members of the group -- known more for makeup and theatrics than philanthropy -- have donated more than $440,000 to the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project.

They're not done yet.

The band is donating $1 for every ticket sold during the tour. The U.S. leg of the tour is scheduled to end Saturday in Fontana, Calif.

The latest check was donated after their show in San Antonio. A photo of the band on stage with service members is displayed on the KISS Web site after each show.

The relationship between KISS and the Wounded Warrior project began in October 2009, when the group invited several veterans and service members from the project to a show in Atlanta.

Several days later, three members of the band followed up with a visit to the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

"It's awesome because what KISS has been able to do is to activate not only their fan base, which is pretty incredible, but also to activate a nation," said Laurie Ott, the executive director of the project. "They are getting us into a national conversation in a way we couldn't do otherwise."

Ott said the band's support will be used for several projects, including establishing transitional housing, expanding programs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and building a retreat center to train more providers to deliver marriage and family workshops for returning service members.

"These are people who have actually been to Augusta and seen the rehab unit," Ott said. "It's pretty personal for them."

Last year, lead singer Paul Stanley told veterans in Augusta that those injured in the line of duty should be recognized for what they have given the country.

"People talk about the ultimate sacrifice," Stanley said. "But isn't it a sacrifice to come back home and discover you no longer have your life? We want everyone home safely and to urge everyone to give these people the respect they deserve."

The project

The CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project is built on ensuring warriors get coordinated care, family reintegration skills and training and education that will lead to employment, according to Laurie Ott, the executive director of the project. It is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a community-based model for gathering care resources and increasing the coordination between federal, state and local levels. Some of its initiatives include the first-in-the-nation Veterans Curation Project, as well as marriage and family workshops and a mentor program that pairs wounded warriors with veterans.