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Kellners's Road To Nashville
WHO ARE WE?
My name is Shawn Kellner. I honorbly served in support of operation Iraqi freedom in Kuwait from 2003-2005. My wife Jen and I are high school sweethearts and we have been together through thick and thin for 18 years and we have been married for 4 years. We have been through everything together, both good and bad. We have had tremendous successes and we have also had tremendous failures but we have gotten through them together because thats what love and marraige are all about. When I got home in 2005, my life fell apart.
Like generations of veterans in my family before me, I chose to try to drink away the war, and the fact that everything that I knew and loved, from before I was activated in the Army reserves and deployed post 9/11 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When I got home everything was so very different. It still is. It is as if time stood still for me 7000 miles away in the desert sun while life back home just kept going. Jen waited for me at ISU. She counted down the days with me. Without me knowing, she even kept both the letters i wrote her and when i got home, she collected the letters she had written me along with many other letters and artwork,ect sent to me while deployed. To be honest, even my family and Jen's family had changed. Bigger than that, the world had changed. I only knew the news of back home from reading Stars and Stripes and occassionally getting to watch CNN in the USO or AFE tent. My friends from the town I grew up in back home had all moved on with their lives. So did my brothers, my parents, and even my beloved grandmother who had contracted dimensia by the time I got home. I knew from the minute that I arrived back at my parents house where I grew up that inside, I was still just the scared 18 year old high school graduate who went and trained to be a combat killer, but ended up in the rear with the gear, with an honorable discharge dd214 stuck to his boots as he ran as fast as he could from the active Army. I went to war an innocent boy, I came home a damaged man, having to figure out the world and who I was one step at a time without any help from the military or the government. The benefits liason that was supposed to distribute transition materials to my unit had caught the flu in minnesota, so when we arrived back to Ft Sheridan our home station, there was no one to greet us but our families. No benefits pamplet, no transition assistance, no VA contacts, no family awareness. Nothing. I as a member of the 847th personnel services battalion detachment 2 can honestly say we were left behind and setup for failure upon returning home For some members the transition came easy. For others like myself, it has been an everyday struggle. A struggle that I choose to accept above all else because I love my family, my friends, and my country. It took 13 years of rebuilding, but I'm proud to say now, that im sober and have been for 10 years now, I have an amazing family including a 15 month son who is a military legacy carrying a torch that burns all the way back to the revolutionary war. We have decided as a family to move to Nashvlle, TN where there is a lower cost of living, and where I can pursue my music since I am a professional musician. We have spent the last 2.5 years designing the Veterans Entertainment Group 501c3. The VEG is the first ever Veterans exclusive non profit entertainment group. It includes the same programs and services natural to a for profit entertainment group however we are not for profit and all donations and other income is spent producing our programming to help veterans, covering our reasonable operations cost, and transportation for veterans to and from our program retreats. After 25 years in the music business, I am elated to have found a way to give meaning and purpose back to songwriting. My hope with this endeavor is that professional recording artists and veterans alike will be able to collaborate like never before in order to create authentic songs with transparent messages that are living history first person accounts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the mouths of those who were there. We have made arrangements to file our compilation releases as living history in the library of congress, the gugenheim museum, and the smithsonian to name a few. The history that we make by recording these compilations will be able to be used in school curriculums, library history displays, lectures, and many other forms of multimedia that teach people about the history of 9/11, operation enduring freedom, operation iraqi freedom, operation inherant resolve, and the continuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria.
So that is where our road to Nashville begins.........
Here is the problem:
First of all, our wonderful management company shifted all September move out dates to the 15th making it nearly impossible for us to secure a place to live by then. Also, although the cost of living in Nashville is substancially cheaper than here in Chicagoland, it is VERY expensive to move my family since I am not able to contribute what I once was due to physical limitations of service connected disablities and other injuries that have stemmed from or been agrevated further by the SCD injuries. This will be the first move we have had where we are completely dependent on family support and hired help(if we can afford it). Both my parents are also disabled. My father as I mentioned before is a Vietnam Era Airforce Veteran. He is retired and disabled. My mother is also disabled suffering from spine issues and chronic nerve damage.
So, the truth is that the cost and the logistics of this upcoming move September 15th which is 10 days from now, is causing more anxiety and stress than Jen and I can handle. The good news is that we are strong, we have been through way tougher challenges before, and we know this time around 100% of our sacrifice will benefit the greater good. Specifically fellow Veterans and their families.
The newest challenge to our family moving is the addition of our amazing 15 month old wonderchild Andrew ("Shake Yo Booty") Kellner. The responsibility ensuring a successful move and transition has been multipied extensively now that Andrews livlihood is at stake too.
As a family, we truly believe our initiative to get to get to Nashville by September 15th in order to start our new life and to launch the Veterans 501c3 non profit that we have been designing and working on collectively for 13 years.
Our dedication to this endeavor is because we know it is indeed an honorable one. It certainly is reminding my wife Jen and I what family values are and its allowing me to rekindle and teach my son the values and character standards that I learned in the Army all the way to the desert of OIF, my dad learned in the airforce while serving somewhere in south east asia during the vietnam conflict, and as my grandfather learned while invading Saipan on his way to Japan, a journey that was interupted by a friendly fire bullet to the lung that earned him a purple heart. Together Jen, Andrew, Peanut, and I are transitioning from a financially stable one income family with regular income and benefits from a corporate job, to temporarily now being a low income family as we relocate with no guarenteed income and take a complete and utter leap of blind faith so that we can launch Veterans Entertainment Group 501C3 which will inevitibly be the greatest adventure of our lives.
WHAT WE NEED:
1. We need your help coming up with $2500 in the next 10 days so that our move to Nashville can happen. We can keep you involved and informed the entire way about how we find a home, move in, file the non profit, launch Veterans Entertainment Group 501C3. We can offer advice and consultation to others starting a non profit for veterans who are earlier on in the process than we are. The truth is that we just need to get the non profit open and we can finally take in the millions of dollars in private non profit donations that we have lined up from some amazing beautiful people who support the mission we have taken on as an organization.
2. Once the money is figured out, all that left is just us packing up this 2 bedroom apartment.
3. Finding a house to rent in Nashville. I have medium credit and a cosigner. I also have the VA Loan available to me.
4. I need help arranging the logistics of moving all of our stuff from Willowbrook, IL to Nashville, TN
5. I need to find labor that can help with the move since I'm a disabled and cannot lift anything heavy like i use too.
6. I need to secure transportation and a responsible driver for the truck with our stuff in it from Willowbrook to Nashville,
7. We need help getting everything into the house.
8. Together the move in itself will cost aprox 1200 dollars.
As far as the non profit goes:
1. We start with a $1000 dollar in incorporation fee to file an LLC (with pending 501c3 status)
2. Then we file the IRS form 1023 to get 501c3 tax free status which takes 6-12 months to be approved. We have been working for months with our amazing mentor and advisor David, preparing the 1023 amongst other things in preperation for the filing of the non profit.
3. While we are awaiting our 501c3 status approval we have several other partner 501C3 Veterans Service Organizations that are going to help us fundraise seed money and operations cost. We already have ongoing conversations with the publisher Andrew and the Editor in Chief Jason at Rolling Stone about major coverage of this endeavor. It is gonna turn an industry by storm and help many many many veterans.
Friends, My wife Jen, My son Andrew, our dog Peanut, I humbly ask for your support with this new path we have chosen to taken. Nothing in life that has ever been truly great has been given it has been earned. So many people have helped carry me home over the last 13 years. If forest gump ran home, I flew home. I may even have been Gober Pile without a rifle because i left it on the plane and brought my guitar to war. I live for rock and roll, I live for entertainment, I live for my family, and I live to support veterans and honor those that served so many decades before us in so many wars.
Your support of this fundraiser will help my family move from Chicago to Nashville, open up our new Veterans 501c3 called Veterans Entertainment Group, and most importantly itll help us to raise our son right surrounded always by those who took the oath and wore the uniform.
I grew up around my fathers college friends who were all Vietnam Veterans and they taught me alot over the years.
One of the marine veterans Paul Kane wrote me nearly once a week the entire time I was deployed. Sometimes it was as simple as a hello. Other times it was a news update about what was happening near the DMZ circa 1969. Paul is just one example of a veteran of a previous war helping a current deployed veteran get through everyday life away from home in harms way.
The biggest assurances I can give you are that the organization we are creating will be designed, organized, and operated with the highest values and character the likes of which I was taught in the US Army at Ft Benning, my Dad was taught in US Airforce basic training at Keeseler Airforce Base, and like my grandfather was taught at Ft Leonardwood and then Ft McCoy, Wisconsin while he too prepared to deploy to harms way.
Believe it or not, during my 3 months of winter training to go to the desert at Ft McCoy I even lived in the same WWII barracks he did. Looking back it was serindipidous to know I was in a way walking in his footsteps. Truly an honor when I think about it. He would go on to take a bullet and be awarded a purple heart as a true hero of WWII.
Family, Friends, Supporters around the world, however we may know each other, My family and I sincerely appreciate your support of this endeavor.
Any contribution of any amount to the fundraiser helps.We are going to move mountains and help a tremendous amount of veterans and their families once we are in Nashville. We believe in absolute transparancy so we are more than willing to show everyone who donates where every penny of the contributions to the fundraiser goes.
Veterans Entertainment Group programming includes: Veterans Day Records, Veterans Day Productions, Veterans Day Media, Veterans Day Films, Honor and Valor, Living History Project, VSO Partnerships, Veterans Outreach and many other endeavors designed to assist and support Veterans and their families after wartime service.
Personally, I have a co-writer writing my memoirs with me about coming home on my 21st birthday when the war truly began, I have a TV show/cartoon that I've written with my best friend and business partner at Dark Barrel Media, Mr. Brian Morgan, which is headed to sizzle and it will be pitched to comedy central adult swim soon. I have a feature film that is passing treatment phase on its way to sizzles so that the full script can be written.
I also am fortunate enough to be working with Producer Lee Miles (Shinedown, Rise Against, Sick Puppies, Puddle of Mudd), Mario @ Sonic Ranch, 3 time Grammy winner James Czeiner, former January Jane/Hypodive/Evan Russel Saffer retired rockstar and co owner of Gramercy Records Cody Darbe, and finally my dear mentors, producer Peter Rafelson (Madonna, Elton John, Stevie Knicks, The Coors, Britney Spears, and Shawn Kellner?) and finally Kelly Milionis who is the music of my heart wherever he may be.
This plan I have created over 13 years is literally already reinventing how people connect to music.
It's posing new questions to artists and producers about what subjects they are writing about and why?
A new generation of consumers is growing tired of the menotenous drones of electronic DJ's and they are returning back to record shops to revisit classic LP's on Vinyl.
There is a music and entertainment revolution happening all around us.
Rock Stars are dead and gone.
Lets face it even bands doing "well" still have to sell millions of something just to eat.
The mirage of sex drugs and rock and roll is gone. Why? That stuff is way too expensive especially when you have to advance the cost of manufacturing your special edition vinyl and ordering new tshirt designs.
Lets go back to appreciating great music that reallly says something. Music with Meaning. It starts with being able to unify behind a cause.
As I've done my best to explain above, this endeavor isnt to benefit me or my family, it isnt about public relations, although we do hope to raise awareness around veterans issues. This project is about giving veterans that are experiencing the effects of war a way to express themselves creatively along artists they idolize. We are creating once in a lifetime opportunities for those who served on the front lines in defense of our way of life against people you will never know about because of them. We can all sleep in peace.
Now it is our turn to give back to them so that someday through comraderie, communication, and creative expression we will all be able to sleep in peace.
So thats what is going on. Jen, Andrew, Peanut, and I are proud to ask for your support with this fundraiser because we know that by Jen and I diving 100% all into this we simply cannot lose. It is definitly the scariest thing we've ever done in our life together, but its also the most modest and humbling and because I know we will have the support needed to make this happen.
Thank You for your time and your consideration,