J.R. Martinez of “Dancing With The Stars” to be Guest of Honor at Army Birthday Ball Friday

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He danced his way into the hearts of millions during last season’s “Dancing With The Stars.” Now former Soldier, J.R. Martinez will be able to enjoy watching hundreds of other Soldiers dance the night away as he is honored at the Civilian Guest of Honor at this year’s Army Birthday Ball on Friday evening, June 1, 2012 at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach.

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (GLAC AUSA), a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. Army, will pay tribute to Veterans of all ages and services at this year’s gala Army Birthday Ball.

“We are honored to have J.R. Martinez as our Civilian Guest of Honor,” said Patti Mente, executive director of the Army Birthday Ball. “His message of survival and triumph has inspired not just our wounded warriors but their families as well.”

“As we gather to say ‘thank you for your service’ there couldn’t be a better representative of those who have served and sacrificed for their country than J.R.,” Mente said.

“Lieutenant General Susan Lawrence, the Army’s Chief Information Officer, will be our Military Guest of Honor,” Mente said.

“Lieutenant General Lawrence is an amazing woman and Soldier,” Mente said. “She is one of the key leaders within the Army… and an inspiration to all women.”

GLAC AUSA will continue its tradition of supporting Soldiers through the “Give A Soldier A Night Off” campaign.

After long deployments, usually stretching for more than a year, local Soldiers are returning to a bleak economy and a challenging job market… so why not give them at least one special night off – a night of celebration and fun? And why not make it a night of “thanks” from the community for their brave service to the country? That’s the premise behind “Give A Soldier A Night Off” campaign.

“Southern California has the single largest population of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the United States,” said Felicia Campbell, vice president, programs, for GLAC AUSA. “However, most of the thousands who have deployed out of here are so-called ‘Citizen Soldiers’ – our California National Guard and Army Reserve – with no active duty base to help support them or their families” said Campbell. “This makes their return from war even more challenging

“We believe that the ‘Give A Soldier A Night Off” campaign provides the perfect opportunity to tell them and their families ‘thank you for your service,’ in a way they will always remember,” said Campbell.

“Give a Soldier A Night Off” is an initiative to sponsor local Soldiers and their spouses to the annual Army Birthday Ball. GLAC AUSA annually provides free tickets to Soldiers and their spouses; in fact, last year more than 200 Soldiers attended the ball.

“We’ve done this not only so we can welcome even more Soldiers to the ball, but also to provide a tangible way for the community to say ‘thank you’ to its local heroes”, Campbell said. “I hear from people all the time who tell me that they want “Support our Troops” to be more than a bumper sticker to them.”

Tickets are $285 per person. Members of the public can make tax-deductible donations of one or more seats, or make contributions of $25, $50, $100 or more to sponsor enlisted Soldiers, non-commissioned officers and junior officers. Donations can be made on line via a secure Pay Pal site at ausa.org/glac.

The Army Birthday Ball is open to the public. Seats can be purchased at the same Pay Pal website.

For more information, visit the website (www.ausa.org/glac) or call Patti Mente about the Ball at 310-764-3336.

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