We’ve all seen the photos from WWII – the slightly naughty, busty dame painted on the nose of a bomber, the beautiful bathing suit clad Miss Betty Grable giving a flirtatious smile over her shoulder, and the saucy drawings by Alberto Vargas, Zoe Mozert, and Gil Elvgren. These images of red lipstick, garters, and curves were as much a part of that era as ration cards and war brides. And several organizations have decided they need to be reborn to help the current generation of servicemembers and veterans. The most prominent of these organizations is Pin Ups for Vets.
Pin Ups for Vets is a non-profit started in 2007 by pin up model Gina Elise in response to news articles discussing underfunded veterans hospitals. Using vintage style pin up photos, Gina Elise created a calendar as a fundraiser with the goal of using the proceeds to raise funds for hospitalized veterans, delivering copies of the calendars to hospitalized veterans, and sending copies of the calendars to deployed servicemembers to help boost morale. What started out as one woman’s desire to honor her grandfather, a WWII veteran, and help drum up donations for veterans’ hospitals has grown into an award-winning non-profit, which has raised more than $50,000 thus far.
It has also drawn some big names in recent years. KISS member Gene Simmons’ long time partner and former Playboy model Shannon Tweed-Simmons, her sister, Tracy Tweed, and her daughter, Sophie Tweed-Simmons all posed for the 2013 calendar. And the new 2014 calendar features a few Post-9/11 veterans, including its first male models – most notably Alex Minsky, a former Marine who lost part of his right leg below the knee in a 2009 IED explosion in Afghanistan and has since found success as an underwear and fitness model.
In addition to the calendar, Gina Elise is currently on a quest to raise the morale of wounded warriots by visiting a veterans’ hospital in each of the 50 states and is also involved in multiple ways to honor vets, including giving one lucky female veteran and another Marine’s spouse “pin up makeovers” for Veterans Day. She also continues to raise money for vet causes and organizations, including participating in the recent Homeward Bound Telethon, which raised money for veterans returning with TBI and PTSD. (Portions of the funds raised by that telethon also went to support other veterans’ organizations such Operation Family Home, which builds mortgage-free homes for severely wounded veterans and surviving spouses, and the Wounded Warrior Project.)
If you’d like to purchase a calendar or other items (Pin Ups for Vets has a pretty neat patch for you patch collectors out there) or just take a look at the vintage style photographs, you can find out more about at: www.pinupsforvets.com or on FB at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pin-ups-for-Vets/158035307600718#!/pinupsforvets
Note: I verified Pin Ups for Vets non-profit status through the IRS and Guidestar.
© 2013, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.