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supporting those who served
Story by Audrey Poff, Photo by Amy Long

An Evening with Bob Hope, featuring Bob Hope impersonator Bill Johnson, will benefit the Beck PRIDE Center for America’s Wounded Veterans at Arkansas
State University – supporting the services the center offers to those who have served.

Founded in October 2007, the Beck PRIDE Center is a non-profit program housed in the A-State College of Nursing and Health Professions. Designed to supplement VA and other federal and state programs, the center offers a central location on the Jonesboro campus where veterans can have their needs assessed, and provides resources and referrals to meet those needs. The services are provided free to wounded veterans, including those with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Veterans do not have to be a student” to be eligible for the program, said Lynda Nash, director of the Beck PRIDE Center. The mission of the Beck PRIDE Center is “to provide combat wounded veterans with resources for personal rehabilitation, counseling, advocacy, financial assistance, access to the higher education experience and socialization; to provide first class educational programs and services at Arkansas State University; supporting these individuals to achieve their post military service goals.”

The program is designed for U.S. Military personnel (active duty or discharged) serving during present day combat war conflicts; veterans that have emotional, physical and psychological disabilities due to their combat service; and those in need of rehabilitation, career counseling and educational attainment.

PRIDE is an acronym for what the center does: Personal Rehabilitation Individual Development and Education. Although numbers fluctuate, Nash said the center is currently serving some 211 veterans today. She estimated that the Beck PRIDE Center has served well over 500 veterans since it opened.
The average age of the program’s participants is 32.

Geographically, most of the center’s veterans are from Northeast Arkansas but some travel much farther for services. “We have actually had some veterans who come in from out of state,” Nash said. “Some of them find out about us through friends. We had one recently from Oklahoma whose friend told him he needed to come here. Others have come from Tennessee and Mississippi.”
Nash said the center’s staff works to promote its services through advertising, contacts at VA centers and working with groups such as National Guard units returning from overseas. The goal of the upcoming fundraising event is to help the center become self-sufficient.

“We’re looking to the future,” said Nash. “We have a Department of Defense grant but that will be ending in the next two years. We are trying to become self-sustaining so we can continue to serve our veterans.”

Fowler Foods and the A-State College of Nursing and Health Professions will present An Evening with Bob Hope on Sept. 17 at the ASU Fowler Center in Riceland Hall. Johnson has entertained audiences as “Bob” for the actual USO, as well as military groups, festivals, conventions and corporations.

Johnson brings Bob Hope’s life in comedy to life once again in his tribute act. The entertainer appears on stage dressed in a tuxedo, as classic Bob in golf attire, or in military fatigues similar to the ones Hope wore when he entertained the troops. Also performing will be Two on Tap, a creative collaboration of two celebrated musical theater performers, Melissa Giattino and Ron DeStefano. In their unique variety act, the talented duo brings audiences back in time to the era when couples like “Fred and Ginger” and “Mickey and Judy” filled the silver screen with tight vocal harmony and precision tap choreography. Soaring vocals
and spirited dance numbers create a vibrant, modern trip down memory lane for audiences of all ages. The benefit will also include a special performance by the
A-State Jazz Band.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at the A-State Box Office located in the lower red entrance of the Convocation Center or online at astate.edu/tickets. For more information on tickets, call 972-2781. For more information about the event, contact the A-State College of Nursing and Health Professions at 972-3112.