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Brave Hearts Band pays it forward to Idaho veterans

The Brave Hearts Band plays the 1st Friday of each month at the Indian Creek Steakhouse in Caldwell. All of the proceeds go to Brave Hearts Idaho, a charity that helps veterans.

The Brave Hearts Band has heart and a beat. They were put together to help raise money for a charity by the same name that helps Idaho veterans. The band plays each month at The Indian Creek Steakhouse in Caldwell and The Cowboy Church in Emmett. They collect tips and raffle off donations, making around $300 a gig for Brave Hearts Idaho.

CSM Phil Hawkins said, "The heart of Brave Hearts is really to help people who are in financial crisis.”

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They help with $500 grants to cover rent, utilities, gas and grocery money and more. They can’t sustain veterans over a long period of time, but they can help them through the crisis until they can get back on their feet.

“Some of these veterans, they're so ... Appreciative,” explained Noreen Kern, who along with her husband Jim, founded Brave Hearts Idaho.

She remembers one man who was dying after exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam. “This man was terminal. He lived in the Boise area. He was an Idaho resident. Right? But his family was in Georgia. He was going to die. And he wanted to be buried with his family. And we gave him a grant for that ... So, he could go back.”

Hawkins recalls another man from Bonner’s Ferry who had broken his back. “And I'm thinking, this guy just broke his back, lives by himself, how he going to take care of (a chord of wood)? So, I called him up and said, ‘Why don't we fill that propane tank?’ And he said, ‘Can you do that?’ ... Heck yeah, we can do that!"

By the numbers, Brave Hearts has helped 635 vets since 2008. And in the first half of this year, it granted vets $288,446.

Mountain America Credit Union added to the available cash for Brave Hearts Idaho with a $500 Pay It Forward.

Jim Kern, who is a retired minister and Navy vet, exclaimed, “This is amazing to have someone walk up and give you $500. Wow!”

The money won’t stay long in the coffers of Brave Hearts. When asked how the money would be spent, Kern said simply, “We're going to go help a veteran.”

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