Tuesday, April 13, 2021

ORANGE COUNTY MUSIC AND DANCE LAUNCHES OPERATION GIG, A NEW PROGRAM TO HELP VETERANS COPE WITH COVID-19 STRESS. OCMD CEO Doug Freeman talks about OPERATION GIG, the unique musical program to be held in Orange County's Great Park. He is joined by Jimmy Perez, one of the musically talented vets in the program, who shares how playing the piano changed his life..

Veterans in particular have been especially hard hit by the rigorous demands of quarantine and the social isolation that goes with it. Beginning in April, Orange County Music and Dance will launch a new program, Operation Gig, to help veterans, their families, and the community, cope with the unprecedented stress and consequences resulting from the current COVID-19 health crisis. Orange County Music and Dance has teamed up with Rock For Vets for the unique musical program, to be held in Orange County's Great Park.

KUCI's host Janeane spoke with OCMD CEO Doug Freeman and Jimmy Perez, one of the vets who will participate in the Operation Gig program!  


Calling all vets…get ready to rock…

Beginning in April, Orange County Music and Dance, (OCMD) will launch Operation Gig a new program designed to help veterans cope with the unprecedented stress and devastating consequences resulting from the current COVID-19 health crisis.

During this challenging time, veterans and their families are experiencing a disproportionate level of stress and risk. Veterans have been especially hard hit by the rigorous demands of quarantine and the social isolation that goes with it.

In response, OCMD has created an important new musical program to help veterans, and the community at large, cope, heal and thrive again. The program is totally free to all participants and provides the rare opportunity to join a band, for those who so desire. Spouses, family members, and children 16 years of age or older, are also allowed and encouraged to participate.

Operation Gig is a program designed specifically for military veterans and those still on active duty. To enhance the eight-week program, OCMD has teamed up with the well- known non-profit Rock For Vets, founded by Frank Mcllquham. Operation Gig features three different options for participation: Learn, which offers eight 60 minute group classes for beginners (no experience necessary) or those who need a refresher; Jam, which includes weekly 90-minute jam sessions for instrumentalists who want to play, while improving their skills and enjoying the companionship of other like-minded musicians; and Band, for experienced players who want to collaborate with others and perform in front of an audience.

The goal is to provide the sense of camaraderie and bring back the ‘esprits de corps’ that’s been missing for so many during lockdown and quarantine.

“As a non-profit performing arts school, part of our mission is transforming lives through music. We know that music heals. Studies show it decreases anxiety and agitation, reduces depression, and provides a safe and enjoyable emotional release. It takes us to another place where pressures are relieved, our minds are cleared, and our bodies relax. Music is a universal language that everyone relates to and we want to use it to help heal the community,” stated Doug Freeman, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OCMD.

“At Rock For Vets we are dedicated to improving the lives of veterans, at-risk youths, and other groups, through music education. Music is one of the best means to recreate the rare bond and solidarity that vets have with each other. We believe these programs can be beneficial not only to vets, but the entire community,” explained RFV founder Mcllquham.

Operation Gig will supply participants with everything they need, (including professional coaches, instruments if necessary, lessons and instruction, and eight, weekly 60-minute classes or 90-minute rehearsal sessions, to be held outdoors at Orange County’s Great Park.) And whether you’re a little bit country--or a little bit rock ’n roll—or a little bit something else--band members are free to play any genre of music they choose, from classic rock, to jazz, blues, country, or anything else. At the culmination of the program, the veteran bands will perform in several outdoor community concerts to be held at various sites within the Great Park.

All appropriate Covid safety measures will be strictly enforced during each class, rehearsal and concert performance.

So if lockdown brought out the secret desire you’ve always had to ‘release your inner rockstar’, play guitar like Van Halen, sing the blues like B.B. King, or belt out a song like a Broadway star, now is your chance. Join us to make some music, make some friends, and just have some fun again, in a safe environment and supportive community. 

 For more information, and to register, please visit www.ocmusicdance.org or e-mail Maranda@ocmusicdance.org, or call (949)-386-8336


Mr. Freeman comes his role as CEO of OC Music and Dance after a long career as a lawyer, businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist. He served in a variety of capacities within the nonprofit field, including Board Chair of the Pacific Symphony, where he is now a Lifetime Trustee, and Board Member now Trustee Emeritus, at the California Institute of the Arts.

During his long career, Doug provided strategic planning and organizational management advice for business, nonprofit, foundation, and family clients throughout the United States. He has received a number of awards and recognition, among them inclusion in the Orange County Business Journal's list of the 500 Most Influential People in Orange County (2016, 2020). In 2019 he was the recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which recognizes individuals whose mission is to generously share their knowledge, compassion, unique talents and, gifts with those less fortunate. Doug is the founder of National Philanthropy Day, proclaimed by Congress, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, and celebrated throughout the United States.

Jimmy Perez is one of the vets who will participate in the program. He spent 10 years in the Army before being discharged for medical reasons. He has undergone extensive therapy for PTSD, but his story, and his life, was changed by a piano.

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