Twelve U.S. Veterans Featured in 2015 Pin-Up Calendar To Benefit Hospitalized Vets & Deployed Troops

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Los Angeles, California — September 12, 2014 Pin-Ups For Vets, a national award-winning nonprofit organzation based in Southern California, has started pre-sales for its much anticipated 9th annual calendar that will once again raise funding to support hospitalized Veterans and deployed troops. This upcoming calendar has more than a few surprises—twelve, to be exact!

Twelve outstanding U.S. Veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force have stepped up to help support others who have served and sacrificed. “Our nonprofit organization, Pin-Ups For Vets, is very proud to feature these twelve exceptional men and women” said Gina Elise, Founder and CEO of Pin-Ups For Vets and granddaughter of a WWII Army Veteran.

Ricky Ryba, a US Navy Veteran,  appears in the 2015 fundraiser calendar in a photo with Gina Elise.  Ryba, who just finished his time in the Navy after 11 years, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in Information Technology. He was stationed on 2 ships in Mayport, FL (USS John L Hall FFG-32 and USS Farragut DDG-99). He deployed overseas twice to over 20 countries, and then he transferred to Point Mugu, CA where he was working at a Naval Satellite Operations Center.  Ryba says, “I wanted to be in the 2015 Pin-Ups For Vets Calendar because I’ve seen how much Pin-ups For Vets positively affects Veterans across the globe. The calendars bring a smile to a Veteran’s face, and shows them that there are so many people out there that care and are grateful for their service. Not only does it boost morale, but purchasing a calendar helps raise money for hospital equipment for Veterans and future hospital visits for the Pin-Ups For Vets Ambassadors to personally delivery these calendars with smiles and love.”

Air Force Veteran, Julie Yarnell, who is also featured in the calendar, served on active duty Air Force as an A-10/F-15/U-2 Avionics Specialist on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, AZ and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.  Yarnell explains, “Being a veteran, I found this organization to be my calling because I get to help those who have been where I have and BEYOND. There are few things more satisfying than putting a smile on someone’s face; that is what we do at PUFV, and in great fashion, I might add!”

Calendar model, Jennifer Marshall, is a proud US Navy veteran who served five years.  During her time in, she was stationed on Naval Outlying Field San Nicolas Island and on the nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Although rated as a Logistics Specialist, she also served on the Ships Security Defense Force and the Repair Locker Fire Team. She deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and looks back at her time in the Navy with fond memories. One of the the things she missed the most about the Navy was the sense of service and camaraderie, two things she has since rediscovered during her volunteer effors with Pin-Ups for Vets.  Jennifer says, “I love working with Pin-Ups for Vets because there is nothing better than spending time with fellow veterans and seeing them smile ear to ear. Knowing we have that shared experience only adds to the quality time we spend together during visits. Their service means a lot to me and it is my honor to meet such courageous men and women.”

 “Our calendar models have such fascinating stories to tell. They are truly an amazing group of people,” said Gina Elise. “One of our female Veterans, Vera Wayne, served in both the Navy and U.S. Air Force, and now she is a dedicated volunteer who helps us in our fundraising events and also accompanies us on our personal visits to deliver gifts to ill and injured Vets in VA Hospitals, as part of our 50-State VA Hospital Tour,” said Elise. “We are also thrilled to showcase some of our beautiful Pin-Ups For Vets volunteers in the new calendar,” added Elise.

For those interested in purchasing a calendar for themselves or donating a calendar for a deployed service member that will be shipped in a care package, or donating a calendar for a hospitalized Vet that will be personally delivered on an upcoming VA hospital visit by the pin-up volunteers, please visit www.PinUpsForVets.com and click on the “Order Now” button. Payment by check can be sent to: Pin-Ups For Vets, P.O. Box 33, Claremont, CA 91711

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A One of A Kind Fundraiser with Pin-Ups, Pann’s & Patriots!

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Historic LA Landmark, Panns Restaurant, Joins forces with Award-Winning Nonprofit,

Pin-Ups for Vets, for Classic HomeStyle Cooking that Supports Hospitalized Veterans

Moved by the recent news coming out in the news about Veteran healthcare, Jim Poulos, the owner of Pann’s Restaurant in Los Angeles, knew that he wanted to do something to support America’s hospitalized Veterans.

In an effort to help these heroes, Pann’s Diner will be donating 100% of sales from their Thanksgiving Style Meals served between 11am – 9pm on Wednesday, October 8th to the Award-Winning Nonprofit Organization, Pin-Ups for Vets. In Pin-Ups for Vets signature style the day will be filled with retro fun, classic homestyle cooking, calendar girls, raffle prizes, live entertainment and more.

Jim’s Family is an example of the American Dream, and this fundraiser will support the troops that have given his family the freedom to thrive. Pann’s 56 year history began with George and Rena Panagopoulos’dream of moving to California and having a successful family business. George, a Greek immigrant, enlisted in the US Air Force and was later sent to Italy where he cooked in the field for our troops and Generals during World War II.

By joining us for a meal, Los Angeles can come together as a community to show their support for our nations ill and injured heroes. The goal is to raise in excess of $10,000 for the Pin-Ups for Vets charity that has been working hard since 2006 to support hospitalized Veterans and Deployed Troops.

Founded by the vivacious Gina Elise, Pin-Ups For Vets raises funds to improve Veterans’ healthcare, donates funds to VA hospitals for medical equipment and program expansion, improves quality of life for ill Veterans across the United States through personal bedside visits to deliver gifts and show appreciation, promotes volunteerism at Veterans Hospitals, conducts morale-boosting events for military spouses, and boosts morale for deployed troops through delivery of care packages.

2015 marks the organizations 9th Calendar and almost a decade of supporting our American Heroes. Every year the nonprofit is featured in the media for the work they do to make veterans SMILE through over 6,000 in-person bedside visits with hospitalized Veterans nationwide. The organization has been able to donate over $50,000 in rehab equipment to VA Hospitals across the U.S. thanks to the sales of their calendar – which has been featured on:

FOX, ABC, NBC, Queen Latifah Show, Inside Edition, PBS, AOL NEWS, National Examiner, American Forces Network, The  Military Channel, Good Day LA, Gene Simmons Family Jewels TV show, among countless other media outlets.

The Event will he Held at Panns Diner at 6710 LaTijera Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90045 from 11am – 9pm. If you stop by earlier in the day to drop off a donation, Panns will be serving their full breakfast menu.

For More information on Pin-Ups for Vets, please visits www.PinUpsforVets.com 

 

Media is Invited to Attend with Advance Approval. 

Please contact julia@PinUpsforVets.com for Credentials.

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From Petty Officer To Pin-Up

My name is Kelli Serio and I am a United States Navy Veteran. I come from a small town in Oklahoma, called Tahlequah. It took me 18 years to realize that I wanted to live a life of service and adventure. This is when I enlisted in the military.

I can recall a moment when I realized that joining the Navy was my only option. I was always searching for the next best thing after high school and I wanted to be a part of greatness. What better way than to serve my beautiful country while traveling the world?

My meeting with the Navy recruiters wasn’t typical. There was no persuading necessary on their behalf because I knew what I wanted.  I walked in there and asked them how quickly I could go.

At just 18 years old I was off on a new journey with no clue what my future held. I was intrigued.  I entered boot camp, which tested my ability to be good at improvising and making due with I had.  It included a lot of marching, studying, working out and ironing uniforms.

I was appointed “RPOC” instantly on day 2. This stands for “Recruit Chief Petty Officer”. My duties were to run the division and keep them in check while we did drill. It was an honor to march my division into the building to the drum cadence holding the cutlass at graduation.  My parents were so proud.  A year prior to that I was leading my cheerleading squad.

With my graduating class at Great Lakes, IL in 2008.

The Navy gave me a new perspective on life. Being out of my comfort zone was something that I grew used to.  Even today, I like to live my life in the same way, always pushing my limits so I can continue to grow.

I was fortunate enough to get stationed in sunny Southern California at Naval Air Station North Island. The only time I experienced love at first sight was when I stepped off of that airplane on Nov. 1, 2008. Palm trees and beautiful weather were in my reach, and I embraced them with open arms.

A feeling of never-ending bliss came over me. Life had taken on a greater meaning. Until that moment, I wasn’t really living. I was just going through the motions of what society does and what they think is acceptable.

Stepping onboard the USS Ronald Reagan for the first time was intimidating for a small town girl like myself. Adrenaline rushed through my veins, but I adjusted quickly. In no time, I was on my first deployment to the Gulf of Oman in May of 2009. We set sail, completed our missions and even hit some foreign ports on the way home.

On “port aft” bearing taker watch.

I would be lying if I told you that ship life was easy. Living in close quarters with thousands of people for months on end has its ups and downs. In addition, the detachment from the outside world only to be lost in my own thoughts was unsettling at first.

I did anything to take my mind off of negativity. I had fallen off the wagon after a long history of physical fitness but being deployed brought me back to my roots.

I began to use fitness as an outlet for the anxiety I incurred while deployed. The aircraft carrier was well equipped and fully supportive of those who took pride in their health. Luckily, my division was small and more privileged than many others on the ship. We had the freedom to engage in positive activities.

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I took a “selfie” on deployment in 2011 before I realized that’s what it was called!

I was meritoriously advanced a few months after my first deployment. I was a dual-qualified seaman (possessing both air and surface warfare pins), which was uncommon for a junior sailor. It exuded a sense of motivation and drive and it made me proud. I worked hard on the ship so it felt good to be recognized by the captain and other superiors.

Coming home from my first deployment in 2009. You can see my warfare pins as a dual qualified Seaman.

In June of 2010, CVN-76 went on a cruise of a different kind. It was called a RIMPAC.  We sailed around Hawaii and played battle games with different countries. Around that time, I was asked to become a qualified master helmsman. The duties of a master helmsman were tough and tedious. We were the ones partially responsible for the ship’s safety when we pulled in and out of ports, steered during high seas, strait transits and underway replenishments.

It was an honor to not only be one of a few sailors who could do this special skill out of thousands, but to be a female made it much more rewarding. My old navigator trusted me behind the wheel. The look of relief I received from him when I took the helm during tense situations makes me smile even today.

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I ran into the occasional celebrities while on duty. I was sad to have duty on a Sunday but happy that LL COOL J stopped by.

Time went on and eventually our ship was due for another deployment. We departed North Island on Feb. 2, 2011 on what we thought would be a routine cruise. It turned out that it was everything but that.

On March 11, 2011 a tsunami, triggered by the Tōhoku Earthquake, struck the Fukushima nuclear power plants. Soon after the incident, the plant began to release radioactive materials into the atmosphere. Doing what we did best, our ship put a halt on our original mission, and instead, rendered aid to Japan. We spent several weeks off the coast of Japan participating in what was later addressed as “Operation Tomodachi”.

Our relief efforts included giving the Japanese food and water supplies, search and rescue missions, signaling back and forth between ships, communications and many more. As soon as we were cleared to go, we traded positions with another carrier in the Pacific and headed to the Gulf. My supervisor at the time appointed me to send a message to the Japanese ships in Morse code as we departed. What a trip.

Navigating the ship home from my last deployment in 2011.

That deployment ended up being 8 months long. At one point, I never thought it would end. I kept my eye on the prize and eventually made it home. As my time in the Navy grew shorter, reality set in and I had to figure out what my next move was.

Before I served, I was a nursing major. But after years of ‘dressing down’ and not feeling like myself, I longed for a new way to self-express. The arts, or some form of it, were calling my name. One day, on our transit home from that last deployment, I was watching the news in my workspace. That’s when it hit me. I wanted to be a journalist.

I knew I had a story to tell and a new reason to live. I began to obsess over learning everything I could about my future career. That obsession eventually grew into a desire to enter the entertainment industry, too.

I was honorably discharged from the Navy in January of 2012. It was time to move on and fulfill more of my lifelong goals.  I wasted no time in continuing my journalism education and also looking for ways to become an actor in Los Angeles.

In order to be closer to the entertainment capital, I did what most people do and made the big move to “The City of Angels”. Making sudden changes became natural to me after the life I had just lived. Picking up and moving at the drop of a hat was no big deal. I was a thrill seeker.

After several months in Los Angeles, I began to network and meet people very similar to myself. I became part of a group called “Veterans in Film & Television”. This group brings both active duty and prior military together to work towards common goals, much like the military. I couldn’t think of a better group of people to be exposed to than hard-working and dedicated people all striving for success in the same industry as myself.

Kelli with the founders of "Veterans In Film and Television", Mike Dowling and Kyle Hausman-Stokes and some of its members.

With the founders of “Veterans In Film and Television”, Mike Dowling and Kyle Hausman-Stokes, and some of its members.

The opportunities that came to me from this networking group are so big that they consume my life in positive ways everyday. A young lady named, Gina Elise, was casting for her annual pin-up calendar, “Pin-Ups For Vets”. I found out that several of my superiors in “Veterans in Film and Television” were pitching my name to Gina as a potential pin-up model for her newest edition.

One day out of the blue, I got a call from her and this is when my life changed, yet again. I had no idea that one picture in a calendar could change so much. At first, modeling in the calendar seemed fun and glamorous. I love dressing up and looking pretty as much as the next girl.

Proud to be “Miss November” in the 2014 Pin-Ups For Vets Calendar.
Photo by Tim Hunter.

I was cast in the calendar and I set out to do some research about the charity. I wanted to know what my contribution would be. Through my research I discovered the national recognition Gina Elise has received since the start of her journey in 2006. To date, she has donated over $50,000 worth of rehabilitation equipment to different veterans hospitals around the country.

The organization has been featured on several news stations, print publications and has even been honored by Oprah Winfrey. Nine flags have been flown over bases in Iraq and Afghanistan in honor of the charity. Pin-Ups For Vets has also recently received congressional recognition.

After the 2014 calendar was released, this is when the pin-up madness began.  I started working alongside Gina several times a week. I made myself available to her any chance I got. It was addicting and her personality and hunger to support the troops changed me.

Something inside of me clicked after assisting her during several hospital and base visits. I found a positive way to continue serving my country. Who knew that dressing like a 1940s pin-up girl and visiting hospitalized veterans and active duty troops could be so fun and rewarding?  To me there is no better feeling then the looks of gratitude we get while giving gifts to these veterans at their bedsides. The simplicity of making someone smile in such a way taps into my emotions.

On a Pin-Ups For Vets Visit to my former base, NAS North Island in San Diego.  This was the first time I was back on base as a civilian!

On a Pin-Ups For Vets Visit to my former base, NAS North Island in San Diego. This was the first time I was back on base as a civilian!

 Everything I previously described is currently what I’m living. My days are filled with contentment and happiness because I know that I’m living the life I should be. Nothing short of working towards my ultimate goals in life, which is to better the world any way that I can. I have the same mentality as the day I enisted into the military. I’m alive and I’m able, so it ‘s my duty.

Working with Pin-Ups For Vets not only satisfies my needs of giving back to those who deserve it, but it’s also a learning experience. Gina Elise has let me freely act as a Pin-Ups For Vets Ambassador and assist her with journalism and public relations efforts. She is always there for me when I need to talk, and I’m proud to call her my friend.

So now I’m giving back to a cause I completely endorse, learning to become a better journalist while exposing myself to some of the most genuine and interesting people I have ever encountered. When I reflect on my 24 years of life, I’m amazed at where I stand today. I am one of the lucky ones.

I realize not everyone is born with the same warrior-type mentality that I was blessed with. Something I have learned the hard way is to never settle.  Life is too valuable, short and beautiful to stray down an endless path of nothingness. We must recognize our potential to succeed and not be afraid to act on it.  I have always known that there was a girl inside of me destined for something big.

I currently live in Los Angeles, go to college expense free at a California university, actively give back to the community and get to pursue the entertainment industry.

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Photo by Gary Westby.

The Navy has given me every ounce of pride, happiness and positive thing that I have.  I don’t fear change or the unknown.   Every negative situation will shed light on something positive. The mind is so powerful that if you change your thoughts and outlook, your life will change. All of the pieces will suddenly just fit.   There’s no time to worry about insignificant things or dwell on the past. Living a life ‘wishing’ or ‘hoping’ to accomplish goals is not living at all. When I want something bad enough I make it happen.

Photo by Richard Mellinger.

 I have officially gone from a Petty Officer in the United States Navy to a Pin-Up For Vets Ambassador. There was something missing from my life before I started working with Pin-Ups For Vets. I encourage those who haven’t been active in the community to try it.  You never know where the journey could take you.

My purpose in life is to motivate and help others. Putting a smile on a strangers face means the world to me. I’m thankful for being an American, having the support from the worlds best military, Gina Elise and my pin-up squad (you know who you are).

Here’s to a great future for a non-profit that I have confidence in. We will continue expanding and making a difference together. Thank you for taking me on. I salute you!

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Nonprofit Founder Auctions Designer Handbags Won On Queen Latifah Show To Launch Salute To Hospitalized Vets Week

BAGS on TABLELos Angeles, California – February 10, 2014 – Award-winning national nonprofit organization, Pin-Ups For Vets, based in So. California, is known for the annual fundraiser pin-up calendars they produce to improve Veterans healthcare, but this week, to boost awareness of “National Salute To Veterans Patients” week, Founder and pin-up model, Gina Elise, will be auctioning off the designer handbags she won today on the Queen Latifah Show.
On February 10, TV viewers can tune in to the Queen Latifah Show to watch Pin-Up-In-Chief, Gina Elise, as she races back and forth across the stage to grab designer handbags that have each been filled with alphabet blocks, requiring Elise to successfully unscramble and put together the correct answers to four consecutive questions about actor, Morgan Freeman.

Gina Elise, who has posed in several of the Pin-Ups For Vets fundraiser calendar’s 1940’s-style pin-up photos over the past eight years, knew immediately that those beautiful designer handbags placed in front of her on the stage were meant to be used for the hospitalized Veterans that her charity serves.  Elise said, “I was beyond thrilled to be selected as an audience member to participate in this TV show game challenge, but I made up my mind right there, that if I were to win any of those beautiful handbags, that I would auction them off to raise more funds to allow our organization to continue its mission of supporting VA Hospital therapy programs.”

Elise, who makes her 27th hospital visit at the end of this month, to the ill and injured Vets at a West Virginia VA Hospital, will not only be making personal bedside visits and delivering appreciation gifts to each Veteran, but will also be presenting the hospital with brand new equipment that will improve the healthcare of the Veterans at this VA facility.  “My dedicated volunteer calendar girls and I are on a 50-state VA hospital tour where we have already visited over 5,000 ill and injured Veterans to boost morale and show appreciation.  For our volunteers, everyday is Veterans Day,” says Elise.  “With the auctioning of these stunning designer handbags, I hope that I will be able to draw attention to this important week where we honor to our hospitalized Veterans,” said Elise, whose own grandfather served in the Army during WWII and who was the inspiration for the establishment of this nonprofit organization.

The designer handbags, won by Elise on the Queen Latifah Show, are collectively worth a few thousand dollars, and Elise plans to start the bids on her eBay auction at half the retail price of these purses, with the expectation that the excitement of Queen Latifah’s celebrity, as well as the noble cause of supporting hospitalized Veterans, will bring lots of bidders to this auction.

The bags include designs by: Chloe, Kate Spade, Rebecca Minkoff, and Marc by Marc Jacobs.  eBay link below:

Elise added that, as a bonus, she will include an autographed 2014 Pin-Ups For Vets calendar to the highest bidder of each handbag.  “I hope that as people learn about this exciting auction to honor our hospitalized Veterans, that they will be inspired to contact their local VA Hospital Voluntary Services office and consider donating some time to visit with our ill and injured Veterans.”

Pin-Ups For Vets is an award-winning national nonprofit that supports hospitalized Veterans in all 50 states, VA Hospital rehabilitation programs, deployed troops across the globe, homeless Veterans, military spouses, and female Vets entering the workplace.  The charity has received numerous community service awards and has been honored by the deployed troops who have flown 9 U.S. flags over military bases in honor of the work that the organization has done to improve the lives of America’s service members and Vets.
Email: gina@pinupsforvets.com    

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Pin-Ups for Vets & The Dollface Dames Bring Hollywood Glamour To Fundraising

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WWII Style Fundraising Event to be Held at Historic Post 43 Gains Celebrity Support

Los Angeles, CA – In a town that hosts dozens of charity events every weekend, Pin-Ups for Vets is having a different kind of Fundraiser, in partnership with The Dollface Dames and Do Right! Industries, the nonprofit is throwing a WWII-Style party, open to the public and free for Veterans to attend at the Historic American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood on January 25th.

From the moment guests enter the event, they will be treated to something special. “Our goal is to recreate the magic of the Hollywood Canteen that operated during the 1940’s as a club offering food, dancing and entertainment for servicemen, usually on their way overseas,” says Julia Reed Nichols, Founder of Do Right! Industries and performer with The Dollface Dames. The evening will feature dressed up pin-ups, burlesque dancers, comedy, variety acts, soulful lounge singers, WWII-era celebrity impersonators and raffle-ticket selling “cigarette” girls with items Including Lakers Tickets, $250 in Betty Page Clothing Gift Certificates, and more!   With entertainment & atmosphere around every turn, guests will feel like they stepped into the 1940’s.

Hosted by BD Freeman (VH1 Celebrity Host & Personality and Marine) , the evening will also feature the comedy of The GIs of Comedy (Comedy Central Special airing 2014) and a calendar signing by the models of Pin-Ups for Vets.

Pin-Ups for Vets produces WWII-style pin-up calendars that raise money to support our Troops and Veterans.  With the money they raise the organization provides state-of-the-art rehab equipment to VA hospitals nationwide, ships care packages to support our troops in the combat zone, and they are currently in the middle of a 50-state VA and Military hospital tour where the girls personally deliver our calendars as gifts of appreciation to the ill and injured Veterans at their bedside. The group has been featured on on dozens of news outlets including The Queen Latifah Show, KTLA, Inside Edition and more. Pin-Up Make Up will be provided by Classic Glamour Dolls and “Boss Lady” Ana Vergara.

“The Dollface Dames are thrilled to show their support for the troops and Pin-Ups for Vets”, says CEO of the Dollface Dames Kira Turnage. “Many of us [in the dames], including myself, have family members in the Service and know the sacrifices these men and women make to protect our country. It is nice to be able to show them our appreciation!”

The Dollface Dames are LA’s Theatrical Burlesque Troop. These ladies take burlesque to a whole new level combining theatre, dance, and singing to give you the ultimate enjoyment in every show. With shows all over town these girls have recently been featured in the top 10 Best Troupes for LA Weekly, headlined at Sundance Film Festival Grey Goose Lounge, and performed at some of LA’s Top Venues including the Hollywood Improv. As an added bonus, company costume designer Leandra Watson will be designing dazzling new outfits just for this event as a special surprise for the audience.

In the tradition of the original Hollywood Canteen – this event is garnering attention from celebrities that want to attend the event and show their support of our military men and women. With confirmations coming in every day current celebrities anticipated to attend include Lorenzo Lamas (Leave it to Lamas, Renegade), Bria Murphy (Maxiums Hot 100), Bonnie-Jill Laflin (First & Only Female Scout in the NBA), Leeann Tweeden (Sportscaster), Harvey Walden (VH1 Celebrity Fit Club & Marine),  Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), and Stuart Pankin (The Artist) – just to name a few.

The event starts at 8pm and cost is $20 for Civilians and Free for Veterans. Vintage Attire is encouraged.

Tickets can be found at https://itrulycare.com/events/the-hollywood-cantina-salute-shimmy

For more information on the event please email doright@dorightind.com

MEDIA IS INVITED TO ATTEND THIS EVENT WITH ADVANCE APPROVAL.

Please emails doright@Dorightind.com for credentials.

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'Tis the Season for Pin-Ups For Vets (by Cheryl)

Pin-Ups For Vets volunteer, Cheryl (hair/makeup by Ana Vergara photo by Leah Adams)

Pin-Ups For Vets volunteer, Cheryl
(hair/makeup by Ana Vergara
photo by Leah Adams)

More often than not, the holiday season becomes a time for reflection and hope that “something” will make life better in the near future. This was certainly true for me during the holidays in 2011. At that point, I was recovering from being hospitalized with kidney failure due to lupus in 2010. I was weak, out of a job, depressed, and bored. I eventually started to recover and decided it was time to do “something” with my life. Since I had always been proud to have family members and friends who served in the military, I knew I wanted to work with Veterans in some way, but I didn’t know what my options were. Because I had been unemployed for over a year, I decided I would try volunteering first. I typed in “military” and “Los Angeles” in Volunteermatch.org and Gina Elise’s Pin-Ups For Vets was the first thing on the list.

Cheryl's dad in 1976 (Fort Monroe, Hampton, VA)

Cheryl’s dad in 1976
(Fort Monroe, Hampton, VA)

Initially, I was hesitant to contact Gina and wondered what the non-profit was all about. Gina explained that the Pin-Ups For Vets calendars were inspired by WWII nose art – painted words and images on planes that were meant to boost morale – and were sold to raise funds for hospitalized Veterans. She said she and her volunteers would dress up in 1940’s-inspired outfits and visit Veterans in the hospital. I was familiar with the era and loved the style, so it sounded good to me. I also knew I could relate to the misery of being “stuck” in a hospital with feelings of isolation, loneliness, annoyance at the countless tests, medications, and procedures. I thought I would help with a few events here and there when my schedule permitted. I did not realize Pin-Ups For Vets would become such a huge part of my life.

"Photo Recon" Cheryl with an L-4 Grasshopper (hair/makeup by Ana Vergara photo by Tim Hunter)

“Photo Recon”
Cheryl with an L-4 Grasshopper
(hair/makeup by Ana Vergara
photo by Tim Hunter)

Even at a young age, I was inspired by the fact that my father was in the military. He will tell you he has regrets that he did not get to do more, train more, or see more during his time in the Army, but I have always been proud that he served this country. I knew that this was not a path that many men or women chose to take, and though everyone had different reasons for joining, I admired the ultimate decision to serve. With health issues, I knew actually joining the military was not an option for me, but volunteering with Pin-Ups For Vets seemed like the best way to express my personal appreciation for these brave men and women.

1. Cheryl with Navy Veteran, George 2. George's Vietnam Veteran pin  3. Cheryl, Gina, and Pin-Ups For Vets volunteers with a hospitalized Veteran

1. Cheryl with Navy Veteran, George
2. George’s Vietnam Veteran pin
3. Cheryl, Gina, and Pin-Ups For Vets volunteers with a hospitalized Veteran

Because of my interest in history, vintage style, and in the issues the military faces today, Pin-Ups For Vets proves to be “perfect” for me. Through the non-profit, I have had opportunities to share all of the things I love, experience unique events, and meet extraordinary people. At a recent visit to a Veterans Home, I bonded with a 99-year-old female WWII Army Nurse Corps Veteran because of my retro-inspired outfit. As a hula dancer, I got to perform for Veterans at a local VA hospital and listen to them reminisce about being stationed in Hawaii. I have had serious conversations with Marines, soldiers, and military spouses struggling with PTSD. During an out-of-state post visit, I got a “tour” of an Apache helicopter by 82nd Airborne soldiers and visited my cousin in the Air Force. I witnessed the pageantry of my first military ball. I braved freezing temperatures with Cadets and Midshipmen at this year’s Army/Navy game. After a hospital visit last year, I was presented with a Navy Veteran’s personal Vietnam Veteran’s pin – a gesture of appreciation that still humbles me today.

1. Pin-Ups For Vets with 82nd Airborne soldiers 2. A soldier identifies airplanes printed on Cheryl's skirt

1. Pin-Ups For Vets with 82nd Airborne soldiers
2. A soldier identifies airplanes printed on Cheryl’s skirt

One of the hardest things for Gina to do is to hand over responsibilities related to her organization to someone else. She has built an organization from the ground up and has gained respect and recognition from the military community. She knows she has a reputation to uphold, so she does her best to choose her volunteers very carefully – hoping they have a genuine interest in helping our Veterans and service members and that they will represent her organization well. I feel very proud to be part of Pin-Ups For Vets and I know Gina trusts and respects my opinion and my passion for helping our military Veterans, active duty service members, and their families.

Marine Corps Ball, 2013 (San Diego, CA)

Marine Corps Ball, 2013 (San Diego, CA)

This holiday season marks the end of a year full of some amazing moments and also some rather devastating events in my life and the lives of my loved ones. My faith has certainly been tested this year, and I am, once again, reflecting and hoping for better things to come. I am thankful I have my friend, Gina, my fellow Pin-Ups For Vets volunteers, and our fans and supporters to help me redirect my focus to helping others, rather than dwelling on things out of my control. I have been fortunate to watch Pin-Ups For Vets grow in the last couple of years and as long as we stay true to the mission of helping our Veterans and service men and women, I know that the future of the organization looks bright.

Cheryl gives a 99-year-old WWII Army Nurse Corps Veteran her mini garrison cap as a 100th birthday present

Cheryl gives a 99-year-old WWII Army Nurse Corps Veteran her mini garrison cap as a 100th birthday present

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Highly Anticipated 2014 Pin-Ups For Vets Calendar Has Many Surprises!

DECEMBER

Photography by Tim Hunter. Hair/MU Classic Glamour Dolls.

September 1, 2013 –A national nonprofit organization, based in Southern California, Pin-Ups For Vets, has always featured 1940’s-style pin-up girls in their popular fundraiser calendars to benefit hospitalized Veterans.  But, their soon-to-be-released 2014 calendar has some added surprises.

The organization’s 8th annual calendar will bring together five handsome Veterans, representing each branch of the military, to pose in a captivating group photo with the charity’s founder and pin-up model, Miss Gina Elise.

Pin-Up-In-Chief, Miss Gina Elise, has posed in several 1940’s style pin-up calendar photos over the past eight years, since she founded this award-winning organization, but this group photo with the Veterans is one that will get people talking, says Elise.  “I have no doubt that people will be looking past my own red sequined dress in this photo to gaze instead upon these handsome and dedicated military service members in their sharp dress uniforms.  That’s where the real star power is!” exclaims Elise.

An old photo of actress Marlene Dietrich surrounded by service members was the inspiration for a modern take on this vintage WWII era photo.  A casting call was announced by the nonprofit organization for any Veterans who would want to pose in the 2014 Pin-Ups For Vets calendar.  After pouring through numerous photo submissions that were sent to the nonprofit, the organization’s volunteers chose one special Veteran from each branch of the military for the group photo that will honor Veterans Day in November.

The Veterans who will appear in this very unique group photo include former Marine Alex Minsky, who has received much media coverage recently, including a guest spot on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Minsky had his leg amputated after surviving an explosion in Afghanistan, but went on to become a successful fitness model.   Also included in the group shot of the Veterans, is former sailor, PJ Walsh.  PJ is a comedian who has toured with Larry, The Cable Guy.  Each of the Veterans has a compelling story about their personal military service.

Not to be outdone by the male Veterans posing in the calendar, Navy Vet Kelli Serio and Army Vet Mylee YC are each featured in two months of the pin-up calendar, striking poses reminiscent of those 1940’s calendar girls, who boosted morale for the troops overseas during WWII.  Each of the female Vets has served tours of duty in the Middle East.  Their photos have already generated a lot of excitement in social media circles.

Rounding out the cast of models in the 2014 Pin-Ups For Vets calendar are popular TV sportscasters and huge troop supporters Leeann Tweeden and Bonnie-Jill Laflin who strike alluring poses in some of the calendar’s most talked-about photos.  Finally, a group shot of the organization’s stunning volunteers, who have given hundreds of hours of service to improve the lives of hospitalized Veterans and deployed Troops, is featured in a patriotic red, white, and blue-themed photo for the month of December.

Pin-Ups For Vets is an award-winning national nonprofit that supports hospitalized Veterans in all 50 states, VA Hospital rehabilitation programs, deployed troops across the globe, homeless Veterans, military spouses, and female Vets entering the workplace.  The organization has received numerous community service awards and has been honored by Oprah Winfrey, as well as the deployed troops, who have flown 9 U.S. flags over military bases in honor of the work that the organization has done to improve the lives of America’s service members.  Please visit www.PinUpsForVets.com to learn more.

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Pin-Ups For Vets Unites Sailor & Marine

Troy and Alex 1

Alex & Troy

Red Carpet

Marine, Alex Minsky, on the Red Carpet at the ESPY’s in a suit custom designed by Sailor, Troy McSwain.

Pin-Up In Chief, Gina Elise, is founder of Pin-Ups For Vets, an award-winning nonprofit that produces a yearly pin-up fundraiser calendar, to support hospitalized Vets, VA Hospitals, deployed troops, homeless Vets, and military spouses. 

Elise believes in the power of fate and that those who cross your path in life are put there for a reason.  In 2012, Elise was selected as a social entrepreneur finalist at the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards event sponsored by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at California State University San Bernardino.  It was at that event, that Elise met another local entrepreneur finalist, Troy McSwain, who had founded a business to design custom clothing for athletes, entertainers, and those in the media.  Elise tucked away McSwain’s business card into her sizeable rolodex, not quite knowing when or if she would contact him in the future.

That opportunity to contact businessman McSwain came just one year later when wounded  Marine Veteran, Alex Minsky, reached out to Elise to find out if she knew anyone who could help him find a suit for the July 18 ESPY Awards Show in Los Angeles.   Minsky, who had overcome a severe head injury, burns, and a leg amputation, had become an overnight celebrity when a photographer spotted his finely chiseled body in a gym.  The subsequent photos taken of Minsky and uploaded onto the internet went viral.  An underwear company approached him to model their line of underwear. After making the rounds of the biggest talk shows on TV and appearing in popular magazines, Elise contacted Minsky to do an interview with her on a web series that she co-hosts called, “Release Authority”.   As a result of all of his continuing media exposure, Minsky landed a sweet invite to the ESPY Awards.  And he needed a suit right away to walk the red carpet with his Dad.  He reached out to Gina Elise for help. 

Elise went into her card file of contacts to find Troy McSwain’s phone number to see if he would make her new friend, Alex Minsky, a custom suit that he could wear on the red carpet.  Minsky’s story touched Navy Veteran, McSwain, who immediately drove from the Inland Empire to meet Minsky at his home in Orange County.  McSwain took the measurements and proceeded to  design a beautiful custom suit that Minsky wore  at the ESPY’s on July 18. 

McSwain decided to make this suit as a gift to Minksy who had overcome so much.  McSwain, too, had also overcome a lot.  He had grown up in a depressed urban community with little knowledge of starting a business.  He also had to overcome many challenges in his life, much like Minsky. 

When Elise later asked Navy Veteran McSwain, why he decided to reach out and make this generous gesture to Marine Veteran Minsky, he answered: “There are a few reasons that drove me to make the suit for Alex.  Everything seemed to be in alignment for us to meet.  His story is much like mine.  For the past few years my designer business was dead and flat. I had just decided to proceed to re-invent myself and my business, with the aid of my two sons to carry on the torch. So in a way, Alex’s strong will to get better and change his life was inspiring to me to not give up. The last few years I have been selling cars, and my son was just filling orders from previous clients, but now I am on a new mission!” 

With another “mission accomplished” for her beloved Veterans, Pin-Ups For Vets  Pin-Up In Chief, Gina Elise moves on to begin work to produce her organization’s 8th annual pin-up fundraiser calendar that will be sold in 2014 to benefit hospitalized Veterans and deployed troops.

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Ears! OPEN. Camera! CLICK.

Attention all male Veterans! Have you ever wanted to be in a Pin-Ups for Vets calendar photo with Gina Elise? Well, keep reading because this might be your chance!

The Pin-Ups for Vets team is in pre-production mode for our 2014 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar! That means that we are busy with planning, scheduling, and finding inspiration for each month’s photo. During one of our many brainstorming sessions, we came up with a fun idea to include…YOU!

One of the months in our 2014 calendar will be a group photo of Gina Elise and one Veteran from each military branch. You’re invited to be a part of it!

To qualify, you must submit:

* Your full name

* EITHER a video entry OR written entry of why you would like to be featured in the calendar’s service member group photo

* Two clear photos of yourself (1 headshot, 1 full bodyshot)

* Please e-mail all of the above to: submissions@pinupsforvets.com
* DEADLINE is 11 PM PST, WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2013.

*** IMPORTANT: You must provide your own transportation around Southern California and be available for the entire day of the photo shoot. (Photo shoot date TBD)***

Thanks for your submissions! We can’t wait to see them all! XOXO

"You ought to be in pictures!"

“You ought to be in pictures!”

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Autographed Artwork from Cartoonist Chris Muir of Day by Day Comic Strip

A huge thank you to Cartoonist Chris Muir of the Day By Day web strip, who has created a signed piece for award-winning nonprofit organization, Pin-Ups For Vets,  to auction off to benefit hospitalized Veterans & deployed troops!  This piece, featuring Day By Day‘s character, “Sam”, is printed on canvas & measures 22 inches wide by 16 inches tall, with a 3 inch white boarder framing the art.  Piece is also signed by Gina Elise, founder of Pin-Ups For Vets.  Check our the eBay auction here: eBay auction for Pin-Ups For Vets

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