Pin-Up Calendar Brings
Smiles to Veterans, Troops
All good things start with someone wanting to do something for others. Gina Elise, founder of Pin-Ups for Vets, wanted to cheer up veterans and
active duty military. She does so with one eye on the past and by putting her smile forward.
Elise produces World War II-style pin-up calendars that raise thousands of dollars to improve and expand rehabilitation programs at Veterans
Affairs and military hospitals across the United States. She came up with the idea in 2006 after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, when
she heard stories of veterans not getting proper care and decided to do something about it.
“I had lots of friends who were involved in the arts, so we got together and made the first calendar in 2006. We raised $5,000 and donated
the funds to help purchase state-of-the-art rehab equipment,” she said. “We thought we were done, but people kept asking us when the next calendar was
coming out. Now, six calendars and $50,000 later, Pin-Ups for Vets is making a big difference financially and with morale.”
The outcome of one successful idea is making a difference, in Elise and others’ lives. Elise never thought Pin-Ups would become her career,
but it has, and she is very happy with that. “Traveling, fundraising at events , I am all over the place, and I love it,” she said. In addition to raising money,
Elise travels around the globe to make thousands of personal bedside visits to ill and injured veterans recovering in Veterans Affairs
and military hospitals, in full pin-up style. “I think the best part is getting to see the expressions on the faces of the veterans I visit in the hospital,”
Elise said. “They get bored. I bring friends and we dress head to toe in full 1940s garb — classic dresses and high-heel shoes. They are shocked at first — it’s
a surprise — but we engage them in conversation and have fun.”
Elise’s career choice is not surprising, given her love for the era. “I have always been a fan of the aesthetic — the classy feminine girl
next door combined with the bombshell. It is unique, and people seem to like it,” she said. And it’s not just men who like the calendar: Elise said women like it
for the clothes.
Last year Elise visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with Cooking with the Troops (a nonprofit) and helped cook a gourmet
meal for wounded troops in addition to making visits and bringing calendars. “Often the calendars are dropped by helicopter into very remote areas in combat
zones, and the troops appreciate being remembered so far from home,” Elise
So far Elise has visited 20 states and 32 hospitals, but she hopes to complete a 50-state tour. “I am looking for a sponsor to help make
that happen,” she said. Partnering with organizations like Cooking with the Troops helps bring awareness to the project, and Blake Powers — CEO of Cooking
with the Troops — is happy to work with Elise. “When she does a visit, oh, the smiles,” Powers said. “She lights up a room. It’s an era, and what she is able
to do is nothing short of amazing. We were glad to partner with her.”
Pin-Ups for Vets Did GOOD Today!
Want to cheer up a vet? Purchase a calendar for yourself,
and one for a hospitalized vet!