Local Business Champion Joins Music Legend on International Tour

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John Blanchard joined music legend Willie Nelson on his international tour in Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday evening, March 19, 2008.

This is a military town, Norfolk, VA, and I served here for eight years. We support our own, we believe in the commander in chief and we respect American freedom and ideals. I'm not surprised that Norfolk supports our troops.

John Blanchard, executive director of NASA Education Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and current 2008 McHenry County Economic Development Corporation's Special Recognition Business Champion, joined music legend Willie Nelson on his international tour in Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday evening, March 19, 2008. Mr. Nelson chose to be interviewed for Muster America, a local cable show that is hosted and produced by Blanchard. Muster America airs weekly on Comcast cable every Monday night at 7:30 p.m. CST.

In addition to the interview with Willie Nelson and as a collaborative effort with Stardust Radio (http://www.stardustradio.com), Chatstar and Operation Firing for Effect, national chairman, Gene Simes (http://www.offe2008.org), Blanchard was able to connect his system directly into the entertainers' sound board and successfully provide a live broadcast of Willie Nelson's concert to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan so they could enjoy the live concert. Reportedly several units enjoyed this special present from multi-Grammy winner Willie Nelson and had the opportunity to converse with loved ones during this live feed. Blanchard said, "Bringing this special gift from Willie Nelson to the troops was a huge effort for everyone involved, but a small price to pay to bring enjoyment to our troops." The interview with Willie Nelson solidified his feelings on mandatory funding and veterans care in general. The concert was sold out at the NorVa Theater. Gene Simes was asked by Mr. Nelson to start the concert with him on stage and announce to the audience that the concert was being simulcast to the men and women serving in the best military in the world and fighting for our safety and freedom. After the announcement was made, the crowd erupted into applause, cheers and screams for our service men and women for what appeared to be five minutes. When Mr. Blanchard was asked about the reaction from the crowd, he stated "This is a military town, Norfolk, VA, and I served here for eight years. We support our own, we believe in the commander in chief and we respect American freedom and ideals. I'm not surprised that Norfolk supports our troops." Throughout the concert and with every mention of the deployed troops by Mr. Nelson, the crown continued to erupt in a fanfare of support. John Blanchard, NASA Education and Project Fresh Start continue tirelessly to support our troops, our veterans and the prospect of mandatory funding for VA hospital medical.

Special thanks goes out to Dave Anderson, Mr. Nelson's manager and Bobby Lemon, Sound Engineer for being so accommodating and helpful during the time before the concert, they mirror the warm welcome feeling we received from Willie and all of his staff. What a great group of individuals to befriend.

Muster America focuses on veteran rights and benefits as they are applicable to the men and woman who deserve them. John Blanchard is a strong activist for veteran rights, being an eight-year navy veteran himself (Beirut). There are several entertainment celebrities lined up for Muster America, with Mr. Nelson being the first and perhaps the most outspoken. Blanchard said, "The very fabric of our working class relates to Willie Nelson. He is very kind hearted, soft spoken and the epitome of Americanism. It was a pleasure interviewing and speaking to him, sometimes candidly and becoming friends with his crew and band members. Almost all of his band members have been with him since the beginning, which strongly relates to the military idealism that one signs on for the long haul; which these individuals have done. Most of his band and crew members have been with him 25 plus years, which shows the same loyalty and dedication that our military preserves." Willie Nelson's tour continues on in the U.S. and then in mid April takes off to Europe returning back to the U.S. in mid-June.

NASA Education Corporation is currently in the planning stages of a tribute to all veterans by sponsoring a 3-day Veterans' Festival, slated for fall, 2008. We are seeking local and internationally known entertainers who would like to be a part of the greatest way to acknowledge and celebrate our men and women veterans. Please visit our website http://www.nasaeducation.org for more details.

NASA Education, a Crystal Lake company, has two major programs: Project Fresh Start, a comprehensive workforce and community reintegration program for U.S. veterans who are newly discharged, displaced, disabled, homeless or otherwise in transition, and the semiannual, two-day Stand Down for Veterans, which provided 110 veterans in need with services in October, 2007. The next Stand Down will be on March 31 and April 1 at YMCA Camp Algonquin, 1889 Cary Road, Algonquin, where we expect to welcome 150+ veterans.

For more information about the 2008 Veterans' Festival, Project Fresh Start the Stand Down for Veterans and NASA Education please contact Amy Johnson at 866-338-4968 (866-EDU-4YOU) or amy_johnson@nasaeducation.org.

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